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First Beer After Baby | A Nine-Month Dilemma

First Beer After Baby | A Nine-Month Dilemma
Danielle Engel

It was a warm spring day and as I listened to some Lake Street Dive it seemed like as good a time as any to take a pregnancy test. My husband and I had just started trying to have a baby, so I was keeping my expectations low. I stood there dreaming about my latest curbside pickup from Temescal Brewing, popping one open in my quarantine safe backyard and soaking in some sun. Three minutes later, there it was. A big beautiful positive. A positive pregnancy test brings with it a hurtling roller coaster of emotions, even when expecting and hoping for it like I was. The first wave was part holy shit part happy tears, and the second came with a twinge of sadness that I wouldn’t be crushing a can of craft for at least nine months.

In the early months of morning sickness, I couldn’t help but long for a crushable cucumber Kölsch, so refreshing and stomach-calming. As the summer heat rolled in I found myself dreaming of all the crispy Pilsners and BBQs that were being missed. Was there a year I didn’t pull a basic Becky and hop on the Pumpkin beer train since I had turned 21? Oh, the spiced gourdy goodness. The holiday season always kicks off when Celebration Ale from Sierra Nevada Brewing hits the shelves, and it meant splitting some delicious Barrel-Aged Stouts and that wrapping presents and decorating were around the corner. However, this year, growing a human took precedence over my love of craft beer. Thankfully, there has been a recent push for more non-alcoholic options in the craft beer industry and there are quite a few options that almost come close in taste and work in a cravings pinch.

Deciding what my first sips of delicious crafted goodness after a nine-month break would be a daunting task. I wanted something flavorful but didn’t want to go overboard with alcohol content. Would I go with a standby classic? Force my husband to have a 14% beer so I could have a taster glass full? It certainly needed to be memorable. I rifled through my growing cellar (just because I wasn’t drinking didn’t mean I couldn’t buy beer, right?) and found the perfect beer: á la Table, an oak-aged table beer coming in at a whopping 2.5% from Side Project Brewing. It checked all my boxes: special, low ABV and delicious. I would find a quiet moment after we brought the baby home to cap off my celebration of meeting the newest member of our family and my induction into motherhood. I knew being a new parent would be hard, but I would be able to find a few minutes for myself, wouldn’t I?

Boy, was I wrong. I have never known that kind of tired in my life. In the few moments between the baby crying, eating and changing diapers, I had very little time to myself. With it I had to make hard decisions like: Do I wash bottles, eat or try and get maybe 20 minutes of sleep? That peaceful, quiet moment of pouring a delicious beer for myself would have to wait. Instead, I slowly rocked a swaddled one week old on my propped knees and sipped a Pilsner I had found stashed in the back of my fridge while my husband fed me sushi. I could only drink half of it before I got sleepy. It was a surprisingly perfect moment.

1-week-old Zollie Engel

It actually took two months before I would pop that special Side Project beer so that I could truly savor it, and it was worth it. My husband ran me a bath and took over bedtime so that I could have a relaxing moment to myself. Greeted by a soft sour, funky, lemon peel nose that leads to deliciously acidic sips, this beer was inviting. With some ripe peach, crisp apple and notes of water cracker it had aged well in my cellar. Now we are almost four months into this crazy parenthood journey, and this past weekend I celebrated my first Mother’s Day by opening another delicious craft beer and toasting to all the moms I know. This parenting thing is tough, thrilling, rewarding, exhausting. And we all deserve a drink for that.

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