Had another Dry January this year.
Last year a group of us participated in Dry January together. The motivation was to (in a small way) support our friend who was pregnant and giving drinking up for a much longer period. This time around there was less of a concrete reason, but the same group was in just the same.
It was another easy go of it. Last year I had a brain fart and drank while out with my brothers, but this time around there were no slip ups. No drinking without thinking this year.
One activity I have enjoyed through the two years of pandemic is getting out for a round of golf with friends, picking up the sport again after all our bike events were cancelled. Since we are out of doors the entire time, the risks are much lower. It has been a bit of a savior of sanity. About the only real thing I missed related to this Dry January was the post round beer and debrief.
One big difference this time around is the ever increasing non-alcoholic (NA) choices. Cutting back on alcohol is having a bit of a moment. A few years ago your choice was basically O'Douls, which is a non-alcoholic version of a style of beer I don't care for in its "real" version. Now much like how the explosion of microbreweries brought increased variety and quality to regular beer, more and more companies have sprung up to produce interesting non-alcoholic beer.
Non-alcoholic wine has been around for quite some time, but from what I had heard, it has been pretty terrible in the past. Now there are more choices for wine substitutes as well, but I didn't try any this year so I can't vouch for their improvement.
However, one of the options I enjoyed the most was the Hoppy Refresher from Lagunitas. It is basically a hop flavored seltzer and was actually created for the Lagunitas employees. One of the perks of working for a brewery is free beer, but that doesn't work out so well when you are on the clock. The company created this to hand out instead, and it was such a hit they started selling it to the public.
The hop seltzer is its own thing, not trying to pretend to be beer. Often a substitute that isn't trying too hard at replication is actually more interesting. For example, I would much rather have a Garden Burger than an Impossible Burger. The Hoppy Refresher even has this great, non-Surgeon General warning.
One new addition to the lineup this year was gin substitutes. I do love me a gin and tonic, and I have found a couple of NA substitutes that are quite enjoyable in a mocktail. One odd thing is that the non-alcoholic versions are more expensive than the real thing, sometimes almost double the price. Clean(ish) living isn't cheap.
Were there any lessons or morals to the story in not drinking for a month? Not really. No epiphanies were had, I didn't lose a bunch of weight, and I didn't feel more rested in the mornings. As with previous Dry Januarys I have participated in, it was mostly concrete goal to start the year, and a check against habits running in the background. You can't change habits you don't pay attention to, and over all it is just good to pay attention.
There was one clear benefit this year. When I was mostly separated from friends in January, it was nice sharing this common goal with the group. We'd check in through text or through video on Marco Polo, swap stories and drink suggestions. It was good excuse to reach out. I kept us connected in a different way during a month that is statistically the most depressing.
Will I do it again? Probably. But there are plans this weekend to see friends and enjoy an adult beverage together. In person.