January is here once again. Or should we call it Dryanuary? Or Tryanuary? It's a pretty grim month whatever you call it so I certainly won't be making it any grimmer by giving up alcohol. I did have the idea of just giving up drinking at home for the month but that soon went out of the window even though I am trying to get to the pub more than usual.
You can click here to read my post on Dryanuary from last year and my views haven't changed at all really and with the month nearly half gone I am hating January as much as ever. It is hard to find the enthusiasm for anything really and I include drinking in that too. This post has even taken me over a week to compose. Pubs are noticeably quieter and the days are short, dark and damp. Once the days begin to be visibly lighter my mood will lift though which usually happens towards the end of the month.
One bright spark this year to lift the mood is the Tryanuary campaign. This year many independent retailers, brewers and pubs have given their support to this campaign to encourage an alternative to Dryanuary. The list of backers behind this excellent campaign can be seen here. The idea is to encourage drinkers to try something new this month such as a new beer from a local brewer, or visiting a new bar or bottle shop and sharing this discovery online via the #tryanuary Twitter hashtag or via Facebook. Social media is awash with self-righteous people telling everyone how wonderful they are by inflicting misery upon themselves by not drinking for a month. This campaign is redressing the balance and my Twitter feed has seen many #tryanuary tweets which makes it easier to ignore the puritans.
Being an active CAMRA member, January is not a good month to abstain from alcohol anyway. I have pubs to survey prior to the Good Beer Guide 2016 selection that takes place in February. Or Pubruary as I think it should be called. This means that I have not yet tried any new pubs for Tryanuary but I am off to London tonight (The Cask Pub & Kitchen in Pimlico) which is my first visit to this establishment. I will be sure to tweet about this using the #tryanuary hashtag.
Last week I had to pop to the Dean Ale and Cider House at West Dean, a hamlet on the road between Chichester and Midhurst. This pub is superb and the beer selection has taken a leap recently following the appointment of a new manager who has joined from my former local, The Inglenook Hotel at Pagham. When I was there I tried a pint of Tiny Rebel Hank (4.0% ABV). This light pale ale is full of zesty citrus notes and it was well worth trying. At the Inglenook the guest beer strengths rarely fell below 5.0% ABV and often exceeded 6.0% ABV. He is having to modify the ale selection here and he is sticking to between 4-5% ABV. However, he is using the same first class breweries via the same distributor and for those wanting something a bit stronger they also stock Dark Star Revelation on keg.
So what else have I been trying in this very trying month? When it comes to cask ale not much really. The CAMRA social gave me some Dark Star American Pale (4.7% ABV) which is always worth drinking but there was nothing new for me to try. My local had something new for me in the form of Mr Grundys No Mans Land (4.5% ABV) which was a malty bitter with a lightly spiced hoppiness to it. The Brooksteed Alehouse gave me my first taste of the Listers Special Bitter (4.6% ABV) which is another malty ale with strong caramel flavours. Nick then kindly put on some Alechemy Daylight Strobbery (6.3% ABV) for me which is a strong milk stout with strawberry notes which I wasn't sure about from the description. It was actually rather pleasant and there was a tartness from the strawberries rather than it being too sweet. Not bad at all.
Tonight I am looking forward to trying a few new beers in London so #tryanuary is now kicking off for me. I hope it is for you too.