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Listener Spotlight: "After brain surgery... I discovered NA!"

Mags is a BWAB listener, artist and business owner. Thanks for sharing your story with us ❤️

NA beer story

Why do I drink NA?

Mags NA beer

I've been a lifelong craft beer drinker and last year, in the middle of the pandemic, I learned I needed brain surgery for a benign tumor (meningioma) at the base of my skull. It was pressing on my brain stem and growing so it needed to come out. A few weeks before surgery (today is actually my one year craniversary, as we call it! craniotomy = brain surgery) I stopped drinking alcohol, just to feel like I was in the best possible shape going in to such a major surgery.


But to be honest, alcohol had been having a pretty awful effect on me for years. Even after only one beer, the next day I'd feel low energy, sometimes headachy, my joints would hurt - it wouldn't be what folks usually think of as a full-on hangover but it was a version of it. If I had 2 or 3 beers, generally my limit for the past decade or so, I'd have to stay in bed the next day and get absolutely nothing done. So I had already been feeling like drinking wasn't worth it anymore. And I wasn't getting the same benefits out of it I used to either - it usually just made me sleepy and depressed and not very much fun to be around, which is kind of the opposite of the intended outcome as a social lubricant.


So after brain surgery, I was gonna give it a few months into my recovery before I drank again, to give my brain/body time to heal. And that's when I discovered NA! I guess because I was talking about the fact that I wasn't drinking on my Facebook posts, I started getting the targeted ads from athletic on FB and I decided to try it. I got a six of Upside Dawn and All Out Stout. My first tastes made me feel like Upside Dawn was too hoppy for me - I never liked hoppy beers. I was always an amber or darker beer drinker. All Out Stout tasted good to me, but I wasn't sure I'd keep drinking the Upside Dawn. But Upside Dawn definitely tasted like beer to me, so it did scratch the itch. Eventually I found the two major NA Facebook groups and then I started learning about all the other NA beers and that was it.


I got on a mission to try as many as possible! I think by the time I finally got tired of logging them all on my blog in the spring I had tried over 70 different NA beers! (It's probably more now, I just haven't kept up with the blog.)


What type of NA beer do I like?

Mikkeller NA beer

Well amusingly enough, now that it's been almost 11 months of drinking NA, the very first one that I tried has become my go-to old faithful, Upside Dawn by Athletic Brewing Company. I quite like their Cerveza Athletica as well, and of course the All Out Stout. They are probably my favorite brewery just for the consistency and ease of ordering. I joined the subscription club and that makes it so simple. We do have a Total Wine store here in New Orleans (in the suburbs) but I hate driving out there so at least this way I can get my faves shipped to my door. I also really like Wellbeing Brewery's Hellraiser Amber, Victory Wheat and their recent Liquid Rain IPA, which didn't taste much like an IPA to me but was delicious. Sad that it's gone now. I have learned though that I can now drink most NA IPAs - many of them don't hit me as bitter as IPAs with alcohol. I still don't prefer high IBU beers, though. I'm REALLY looking forward to the Guinness NA being available in the states, as Guinness was definitely one of my favorite beers to get when out at a bar.


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