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  • Jessica Harris

Sultana's Guilt

I just got back from a relaxing trip to the Cabin and while it was another amazing trip I am feeling a little guilt and hypocrisy. Guilt is the emotion we feel when we have behaved in a way that we perceive to be hurtful to others or as a moral lapse especially because it is done consciously. Hypocrisy is the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform.

NO… I didn’t break my streak I am still going strong at 169 days. So why do I feel the guilt and hypocrisy? Well, it comes from a couple of hours at our favorite dive bar, Sultana, and a couple bottles of Kaliber Non-Alcoholic beer by the big brewer Guinness.

Near Beer

Non-Alcoholic Beer (AKA Near Beer) has the same taste as regular beer but has a different effect. It contains small amounts of alcohol- up to 0.5 percent by volume in the U.S. A bottle begins the process the just like a normal beer and goes through the full process, from making a mash, boiling the wort, adding hops, and even fermenting. But before it is bottled, canned, or kegged the alcohol is taken out. The beer is boiled again or goes through a reverse osmosis process until the alcohol is filtered down to 0.5 percent ABV. The result is typically a flat beer because there is no CO2 byproduct from yeast metabolizing sugar into alcohol so the final step includes injecting the brew with CO2 during bottling.

It would take like roughly 10 near beers to equal just one regular beer so I would have to guzzle around 30 near beers just feel buzz. I think I can confidently say I am still living alcohol-free. However, drinking Non-Alcoholic Beer (AKA Near Beer) somehow feels like I breaking my streak because I gave in to the social temptation of having a drink in a bar. In the last 169 days I have made it a goal to change my lifestyle and substitute healthy activities for drinking. However, sitting around drinking a near beer, with favorite people, in one of my favorite places, is maintaining my old lifestyle not developing a new one.

Why did I suddenly have the desire to have the beer at the bar façade? I wasn’t trying to trick anyone into thinking I was drinking. So what was it about the beer that I wanted? For me, I think it was about trying to recreate an environment that I romanticized as a symbol of fun, relaxation and family memories.

The World Famous Sultana

Sultana is a local hangout in Williams, Arizona. The bar opened in 1912 and boasts the record of holding the longest continuous liquor license in the state of Arizona. It used to be a speakeasy during Prohibition. This 100-year old bar is filled with deer skulls, stuffed mountain lions, corn hole, shuffle board, pool, and lingering locals. There is no food offered and no doors on the male toilet stalls. Back in 2012, we stumbled into this dark bar with a dirty wood floor and began creating years of family memories. I have danced with both of my girls to some of my favorite country songs and danced with Rick many times to Jamey Johnson’s song In Color. I have watched the girls play make believe on the old stage, learn how to throw darts and bean bags, play card games, and attempt to grab stuffed animals from a claw machine in the back. We have spent lots of money playing songs on the electronic tunes machine and I have ordered many tasty bloody mary’s and countless beers. We have brought other families with us to Sultana, including a huge group for Rick’s 40th birthday, to share the magic of the old country bar. I’ve never really left Sultana drunk, but I have left feeling a happy buzz many times!

For some reason I felt like I couldn’t socialize the same way I used to at Sultana without a beer in my hand. Sultana=dive bar= beer. Deep down, I knew this wasn’t true but something in my subconscious still held on to the image. I know that I can choose to socialize away from booze in Wiliams, AZ like going to a coffee shop, shopping, or touring the train depot but personally I really do still like hanging out in a dirty dive bar! I guess the good news is that they stock some big brands of beer that have invested in the alcohol-free market. The bad news is that the payoff isn’t that exciting. As a matter of fact, drinking a couple of near beers made me feel like shit. I was immediately gassy and I got a bad headache.

Hypocrite or Confused?

In some ways I feel like a hypocrite. I feel like I contradicted my stated beliefs or feelings about my goal because I have spent 169 days typing blog posts about goals, streaks, lifestyle changes, paradigm shifts, and determination. On the other hand, I don’t feel like hypocrite because choosing a non-alcoholic beer isn’t much different than switching to decaf coffee, choosing glutan free bread over regular bread, or ordering a fancy mocktail. It is interesting because I usually take a bunch of pictures at Sultana but I didn’t this time around. Possibly because I feared what others might think if they saw beer on our table- even though it was non-alcoholic beer. There was one picture taken of our family had the Kaliber bottle on the table and I made sure it was cropped out before I shared the photo on social media because it looks like the real thing. However, when we were at the Royal Palms recently we were drinking Mocktail Mules in highball glasses that looked like the real thing and I didn’t care. Why would I feel guilt and hypocrisy with beer but not with mocktail?

Am I winning?

I am almost half way through my yearlong challenge and I am starting to question my progress and personal transformation. If I am doing this yearlong challenge because I want to avoid the negative effects of alcohol content and all the harmful effects it can have on our bodies then I would say I am succeeding because I have not drank alcohol in 169 days. That is a big WIN! However, if it is because I want to challenge the idea that social drinking isn’t as necessary as I think? Well, maybe I not quite “winning” in that area. I think I probably need to still work on that.

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