This year, like an increasing number of people across the UK, I decided to give Dry January a go and give up alcohol for the month. I hadn’t actually given this much thought at all but Martin said he was going to do it and asked if I wanted to join in. I didn’t consider my drinking to be a problem but I was certainly drinking more than the recommended limit each week. I was therefore interested to see how easy or difficult I found a month of abstinence to be.
Martin offered to do an online order for a range of low ABV beers (for our purposes we classes anything up to 0.5% as alcohol free) for us to try during the month. So armed with a fridge full of Becks Blue, Nanny State, Big Drop Stout and many more we began our month of sobriety.
I wouldn’t never have said that I drank excessively but I certainly enjoy a beer with my dinner most evenings. The range of unbeers (as I came to call them) close at hand meant that every time I fancied a beer I could still have one. This meant that I wasn’t fighting to change the habit so much as tricking my brain into thinking everything was business as usual. Crucially many of the low alcohol beers now available are actually very tasty, highlights for me being those by Big Drop (a brewery dedicated to alcohol free beer) and Brewdog’s Nanny State.
About a week into January I had my first real test when I went out on a Saturday night with a non-dry mate. I was determined not to change my social activities because of this experiment and I figured if I could spend a few hours in a pub without resisting regular beer then I’d need to have a word with myself! I was pleasantly surprised to find the evening flew by and didn’t really feel any different to a normal night out. The only real difference was that the first pub we went to seemed to be unaware that decent AF beer was now an option. They had only two options, neither inspiring, and hadn’t even bothered to put them in the fridge. Thankfully the second place we went (The Tap on Derwent Street in Derby) was much more accommodating. They still only had two unbeers on offer but both were carefully selected German imports and very tasty. At the end of the night I walked home about twice as fast as usual and resisted buying a kebab. I felt a bit like I had super-powers.
The rest of the month continued in the same fashion and I found staying ‘dry’ very easy. Until, that is, my stock of unbeers was depleted. After a couple of days I was really craving a hoppy treat. I thought I was going to crack. But I bought a pack of Becks Blue and downed a couple with my meal and found that my thirst was quenched. It turns out that I might well be addicted to beer, but it really doesn’t matter to me that much if there’s alcohol in it or not. So does this mean I’m going T-Total? It does not. Like I say, I like beer. There are some great AF beers out there but most pubs only stock one or two (one place I went in Birmingham didn’t stock any because “They’re all shit!”) so unfortunately there’s a way to go. I drink beer because I like the taste and I like trying new things. I’m now planning to alternate between beer and unbeer on a night out though. And for home drinking I’m very happy to stick with unbeer as my default.
“We don’t have any alcohol free beers because they’re all shit!”An idiot who obviously didn’t want my money
The other thing that happened was that I lost 2.5kg without changing what I ate or doing any additional exercise. That was a pleasant surprise.
If you’re interested in trying unbeers for yourself then the Dry January site has a great reviews section to get you inspired.
Having just about completed a month off the booze I’m inspired to try giving up some other things for the rest of the year. I’ll write about that in the next few days.
PS. I stole the photo at the top from Martin. Sorry Martin.