January. It’s cold, wet and pretty miserable. It’s also weeks until payday and after the excess of Christmas, you probably resemble something akin to jelly in a sock. But before you leap into a month of denial and weird, fad diets remember that eating 13 grapefruits a day and working out for 4 hours before breakfast isn’t going to make you look like Gigi Hadid, you’ll just be hungry and sad.
Whilst I admire the dedication of those going plant-based for Veganuary and those who are simply packing the booze in for a month and going dry, both of these feel a little too puritanical for my more gluttonous tastes.
Instead, I’m giving Tryanuary a go. “Oh god, not another made up word that’s hard to say”, I hear you cry. Well yes, but this one encourages you to drink beer!
What is Tryanuary and why should I get involved?
Award-winning landlady and Cardiff’s Tryanuary champion, Binki Rees, explains, “I’ve grown up in pubs and have seen first hand the decline in good pubs over the last 20 years. For me the pub is the centre of a community, so to support Tryanuary through local independents supports not only local economy but the community as well. January is historically a difficult time for the hospitality trade so to boost trade at this time of year is very helpful. There are also many fantastic local breweries now producing some awesome beer. I support these not only for the beer taste and local economy but for its environmental impact, less air miles and transportation required.” She adds, “January can be depressing enough without giving up booze too!!”
But I got pissed all over Christmas, surely my liver needs a rest?
“We certainly aren’t trying to derail anyone from kicking off the year full of enthusiasm for leading healthier lifestyles, nor are we trying to encourage people to drink more.”, explains Tom, the brains behind the Tryanuary and Craft Beer Hour Twitter feeds, “In fact quite the opposite – ‘drink less but drink better’ is a phrase we hear regularly in the community”.
Okay, I’m on board. How do I get involved?
Tom recommends hitting your local bottle shop, “At first the range might feel overwhelming, but the proprietor of a great bottle shop will ask if you need any help. Your answer should be yes! They’ll want you to come back, so they’ll more than likely really care about helping you find some beers that are easy on the palate.”
Indeed, as someone still finding her way with what beers I like, my local bottle shop, Discount Supermarket, known to many as The Magic Beer Shop in Cardiff, has become a treasure trove to explore. It’s owner Ali is super-friendly and always happy to help people find a style to suit them, “People will be amazed at the different styles of beer that have emerged, or re-emerged, in craft beer in the last few years so there’s so much out there for people to try that they haven’t had before.”
No bottle shops near you, fear not says Binki, your local craft beer pub is also a good place to get involved, “As a landlady I used to love being able to pick the right beer for the right customer. Another bonus of local, community pubs is that you get to know your customers and what flavours they like. Turning people from generic lager drinkers to real ale drinkers was very satisfying!”
There are also events running up and down the country, from tap takeovers to meet the brewer sessions, all listed on the Tryanuary website, with different regions highlighted throughout the month.
So what are the experts drinking this month?
Binki “Look out for local Rival Brewing Co, they are Cardiff’s newest brewery. A father and son team with a love of good beer, they will be the ones to watch (drink!) this year.”
Tom “Unquestionably one of the UK’s most progressive breweries for beers brewed using wild fermentation methods is Little Earth Project in Suffolk. If you’re interested in the environment, sustainability and organic produce, then Little Earth tick lots of boxes. For instance, they don’t take any water from the mains – instead they have a 60m bore whole outside the brewery from which they source 100% of the water for the brewery and adjacent pub. Also, their ingredients are organic and locally grown and all of the yeast they use in their beers is taken from the skins of pressed apples grown on their own farm. They also grow all their own malt and hops.”
Ali “We have the lovely Roath Brewery beers in store, a great brewery and who make fresh beers locally to us.”
And me? I’m a big fan of the gose explosion that’s happening at the moment as I love sour beers more than anything, except possibly cheese. Howling Hops make a fab Cherry Gose that manages to be fruity, sweet, tart and salty at all once.