As a big fan of not judging people on their life choices, (ok, as a big fan of trying really hard at not judging people) this month’s column will be all about a mixture of Tryanuary and Dryanuary.
Social media opinions may be divided but there’s definitely a lot to be said about reassessing how much we all drink at times, although science would seem to suggest that a month’s abstinence does little to address our habits for the rest of the year, at least charities benefit from it.
And for those wanting to carry on regardless, it is worth noting that moderation in drinking and at least two nights off a week seems to be the best practice according to health care practitioners.
So, for those keeping a weather eye on their health but still want something tasty, the good news is that alcohol-free options are going to be a growing sector in the coming years and there are already some good ones available. The Germans have been making very drinkable ones for years, possibly helped by the fact that the country’s style of wheat beers are naturally quite sweet, so if you’re already a fan then Paulaner or Erdinger are good choices.
If you’re more of a malt fan, then the Budels has a good medium-bodied heft to it and for the hop heads amongst you, then the vandeStreek Playground IPA is your friend.
Pack | 16 beers
Does alcohol-free beer have to be tasteless? Not anymore! Our latest pack has eight different pairs of delicious non-alcoholic beers. Perfect for after exercise, if it is your turn to drive or if you are simply taking a break.
For the Tryanuary camp, well, the world is your oyster stout! I’m going to start by saying, if you haven’t tried De Molen brewery before, then you are missing out on a right treat and my first recommendation is Bommen & Granaten, a delicious but punchy 11.9% barley wine that’s like drinking liquid fruit cake with a teeny hint of marzipan.
Although many will have tried Jaipur, Thornbridge is so much more than that and makes some stunning lagers, fantastic dark beers like Raven and a delightful strawberry blonde ale called I Love You Will You Marry Me (a bit presumptuous of any beer, but we’ll gloss over that!). It’s not often I like strawberry beers, (a fact I’ve now discovered is down to the fact that some brewers don’t use de-seeded pulp and fermentation of those creates a plastic note that I find very objectionable) but this little beauty is absolutely on-song.
If you’ve always turned your nose up at lagers, can I suggest you put aside your prejudices and give the Gipsy Hill Superfan a pop.
This super-fragrant dry-hopped lager is a revelation to those who equate this style of beer with bland, pasteurised mega-brands but, in reality, it is a great skill to make good lager and I can’t recommend this herbal heartthrob with its dried orange zest overtones enough.
Pack | 12 beers
From lighter, hoppy wheat beer to an intense espresso stout and everything in-between: this is the perfect pack to discover the diversity of beer from the Lowlands and to try new things. It's also a great pack for trying a beer tasting session!
And, in case you are trying out Veganuary, why not try Jopenbier, which has been declared vegan-friendly by the Netherlands authority on the subject.
The Koyt Gruitbier really is a voyage into something different and it’s to be recommended, but generally I like very much with some subtle cheese, like Wensleydale. The reason for this is there aren’t any hops used in its creation, but instead there are flavourings like liquorice and laurel and produces a kind of sweet Christmas-cake and Calpol kind of note, that is really delicious with the cheese.
And, with the Veganuary takers amongst you in mind, this month’s recipe can be made to be vegan, so please enjoy!
Low & No Alcohol | 0.5% | 33cl
White & Wheat | 0.5% | 33cl
India Pale Ale | 0.5% | 33cl
Barley Wine | 11.9% | 33cl
India Pale Ale | 5.9% | 33cl
Fruit & Flavoured | 4.7% | 33cl
Lager & Pils | 4.8% | 33cl
Strong Dark Ale | 8.5% | 33cl
White & Wheat | 5.3% | 33cl
White & Wheat | 5.5% | 50cl