It might still feel like 2020 in some ways — OK, a lot of ways — but 2021 has indeed arrived, and for many people the dawn of a new year means setting resolutions for a cleaner, healthier life. The most temperate (and trendy) goal is Dry January, the widely popular month-long practice of abstaining from alcohol.
There’s a good chance someone you know (it could even be you) is pledging sobriety for the first 31 days of 2021. According to the London-based nonprofit that started the now-global challenge through a campaign to combat unhealthy drinking in 2013, more than 6 million people said they would become teetotalers this month, up from 3.9 million last year. The dramatic increase is not at all surprising, as data suggests alcohol consumption has risen sharply during the coronavirus pandemic.
Interestingly, the burgeoning segment of nonalcoholic beverages also continues to thrive amid today’s duress and uncertainty. In the first six months of the pandemic, sales of non-alcoholic beer increased by almost 40 percent, according to Nielsen, pointing to the legitimacy in the growing momentum of the sober-curious movement.
Depending on who you ask, having a Dry January this year could be extremely difficult, pretty easy, or somewhere between. Whatever you’re doing, we’re not here to judge. But we wondered: Are brewers participating? Here’s what we learned after asking 15.
Keep reading for details about all the recommended drinks!
“I definitely cut back after the holidays, and totally support Dry January, if it’s truly healthy for the person doing it. Me, I’m mostly alternating between low fills of our IPA and pils on the weekend. And for weeknight dinners I’m having an ice-cold Heineken 0.0, straight from the bottle. It is, by far, the most beer-like nonalcoholic beer I’ve tried, and it’s exactly what I want in the occasion: crisp, cold lager.” —Kyle Kohlmorgen, Founder and Head Brewer, Wellspent Brewing Company, St. Louis
“Scottish Blend tea. I’m not joking.” —Keir Hamilton, Brewer, Alewife Brewing Company, Sunnyside, N.Y.
“Local businesses, from breweries and bottle shops to bars and restaurants, are struggling right now, so I’m supporting them anyway I can. In lieu of Dry January I’ll be continuing to purchase beer from some of my favorite small businesses and I encourage everyone else to do the same. I’ll be saving the sobriety for more stable times and drinking saisons like Väsen’s Mierka until then.” —Brian Mandeville, Head Brewer, Fine Creek Brewing Company, Powhatan, Va.
”I have to be honest: I’m usually the first to tell trend-followers to get bent. But considering last year made me want to dive into a pool of strong Mai Tai, I decided to give Dry January a Mai-try. As with any vice, you give one and grab another. So I started drinking the glorious solution of my people, imported Mexican Coke. Why? Because it’s tasty as hell.“ —Javi Gonzalez, Brewer, Pacific Plate Brewing Company, Monrovia, Calif.
“I was planning on doing it, actually for the first time, and then an insurrection mounted against the Capitol and I realized it just wasn’t the right time for that.” —Candace Holmes, Brewer, Bearded Iris Brewing, Nashville
“My wife and I are both doing it, partly because she tested positive for Covid on Saturday and I a few days later, after first showing negative. Crazy. So we’ve been quarantining with a lot of La Croix.“ —Todd DiMatteo, Co-owner and Brewer, Good Word Brewing & Public House, Duluth, Ga.
“I’ve been drinking lots of water and coffee this month. We’ve also been experimenting with dry-hopping nonalcoholic seltzers with and without fruit purees, so I’m fortunate to enjoy those during and after my shifts.” —Eric Berg, Packaging, The Bronx Brewery, Bronx, N.Y.
“I really appreciate Dry January and any attempt to be a bit more mindful about sobriety and what we consume. This year obviously is a bit different, but in the past it’s been cool to see people drinking nonalcoholic options in social settings, proving even us awkward introverts don’t always need to be half buzzed to have a good time out. At the brewery we’ve been experimenting with these awesome little drinks we call Soft Seltzers. They’re fermented with a mixed culture we’ve cultivated, less than 0.5 percent ABV, bone dry, have some cool funky and refreshing herb and fruit flavors, and that seltzer-like carb and drinkability. I find most kombuchas and other fermented sodas either too sweet or too aggressively sour and gross. The Soft Seltzers are much more ethereal and delicious. Lately I’ve been crushing bottles of one with ginger and holy basil out of some clear bottles that, after a bit of time in the sun, gets a saison-ish, funky skunk character. They make me so happy.” —Gerard Olson, Owner, Forest & Main Brewing Company, Ambler, Pa.
“Whiskey and Diet Coke. I’m doing a beer-only Dry January because your boy gained that Covid-30 (pounds, that is) and it’s time to see my toes again.” —Tyler Smith, Founder, Kitsune Brewing Company, Phoenix,
“Despite brewing beer for a living, I don’t drink much, so the idea of participating in Dry January never even occurs to me.” —Jacob Mitchell, Head Brewer, Craft Brewing Company, Lake Elsinore, Calif.
“Local breweries need all the help they can get this winter, so I won’t go dry and instead wiIl pick up beers from our friends in our Gowanus neighborhood. For one, pretty excited to grab Antithesis, Wild East’s new West Coast-style IPA.” —Alex Biedermann, Brewer, Strong Rope Brewery, Brooklyn
“With all that’s gone on this past year, Dry January isn’t really in the cards for me. At work, my coworkers and I basically drink whatever lager is close to finished at the time. As soon as that’s packaged, we move on to the next one, and so on and so forth. I think it probably has something to do with the exclusivity of it. And maybe the convenience. Anyway, it feels like our little secret. And when I get home I’m usually drinking gin or Scotch. The weekends I save for a special bottle of whatever mixed-fermentation ale I can get my hands on.” —Savannah Roberts, Brewer, Triple Crossing Beer (Fulton), Richmond, Va.
“Lagunitas’ Hop Water is actually pretty fantastic. But these days it’s a shit-ton of seltzer, pretty much. Maybe mix in some lime and bitters if I’m feeling fancy.” —Bob Oso, Brewer, Austin Beerworks, Austin, Texas
“I think a major problem I, and maybe others, have is that I associate beer with fun and good feelings. And so I start to reach for a beer because of the way I’m hoping it makes me feel versus just enjoying the way it tastes. This month, I’ve been getting into trying different hot teas and creating a cozy, enjoyable atmosphere to retrain my brain into realizing I don’t need alcohol to have a good time.” —Jillian Farrell, Brewer, Grand Canyon Brewing + Distillery, Flagstaff, Ariz.
“With a lot of breweries struggling from the pandemic, I’ll have some beers this month. It’s to support the local industry via buying and drinking beers from my peers, and because I enjoy drinking some every now and then. Maybe I’ll just do a double-DRY-hopped January, instead.” —Linus De Paoli, Owner and Brewer, Kitzingen Brewery, Wyoming, Mich.