Feeling bloated, broke and battered by the festive party season? Join the club... Christmas is well and truly over and now all there is to look forward to is a cold, dark and dry January.
All around the country, people are hitting the halfway mark in their January detoxes and getting to grips with their New Year’s resolutions. But where does this leave the struggling pubs and bars desperate to keep drinkers from the clutches of the Dry January campaign?
Now entering its fourth year, Tryanuary is a nationwide campaign to encourage support for the beer industry throughout January. The brainchild of Mancunian beer blogger, Andy Heggs, and brewery owners Stuart Swann and Shane Swindells, Tryanuary was created to encourage beer fans to support independent breweries, pubs, bars and other retailers during what can be a challenging month for the industry.
Since its inception in 2015, the campaign has garnered huge support. Spearheading this year’s campaign is Tom Stapley, who is best known for Craft Beer Hour, a weekly gathering on Twitter that embraces all aspects of the industry and showcases many independent brewers. Tom’s vision to enable the continued growth of the campaign involves co-ordinating a nationwide team, each championing the beer on offer in their local area.
“A campaign like this needs local people to galvanise local businesses,” said Tom
“It needs people all over the country to celebrate the beer on their doorstep and share that with the nation through the different mediums of Tryanuary.”
Following an overwhelmingly successful recruitment drive for volunteers, for the first time, in 2018, the campaign will be advocated by a team of one hundred beer lovers and enthusiasts who will have exclusive access to the Tryanuary social media profiles.
Also new for 2018 is the introduction of Beer Days. Every day the spotlight is put on a different region celebrating the best of the beer landscape across the UK and Ireland.
The campaign’s volunteers each take a turn to promote their area, bringing a valuable source of local knowledge to the campaign’s front line. Although the campaign will be driven using the wide reaches of social media, the ultimate aim is to inspire people to show support for their local enterprises.
“There are all sorts of businesses to think about who suffer as a result of ‘Dry January’,” says Gareth Jones, who operates Mold micropub The Alehouse alongside his wife Rebecca.
“This is a way of continuing people’s interest in beer after they may have gone overboard in December and spent a lot of cash.”
This January will be Gareth’s second in charge at The Alehouse and he says the impact of ‘Dry January’ has become more and more noticeable.
“We’ve been open for almost two years now and you can definitely see a dip when it comes to January,” he says.
“What Tryanuary encourages is for people to try new beers and beers from places they may not have been to before. Locally and nationally there are events going on all through January and each day sees a different area highlighted by the bars and breweries taking part.”
Gareth has been using the #tryanuary hashtag on Twitter all month and he is also planning an event on Thursday, January 18, with Salopian, an award-winning brewery based in Shrewsbury.
“On the night we will have six of their cask beers on and two of their keg beers,” explains Gareth.
“The brewer will be here to take questions and have a bit of a chat about the history of Salopian. We have had several ‘meet the brewer’ events in the last year or so and they have all proved to be very popular.
“If you travel around the country you will see different styles of beer as brewers tend to cater for what their local customers want. Sometimes that can mean dark ales and sometimes it can mean pale. Even the local water supply can make a
big difference to the taste.
“You notice sometimes when a brewery is taken over because they make this fantastic beer and then they move the operation to another part of the country and the taste of the beer completely changes.”
Husband and wife team Rebecca and Gareth opened the Mold Alehouse just 18 months ago after Gareth left his job with the Royal Mail where he had worked for 21 years.
The couple opened the new venture on Earl Road early in 2016 and have seen it become a popular destination for real ale lovers who flock to the ground floor of the Grade II listed Earl Chambers in a space familiar to locals as the old Flintshire Chronicle office.
To cap a fine year for Gareth, The Alehouse recently came third in Welsh CAMRA’s Pub of the Year contest, finishing behind The Druid Inn in Goginan, Ceredigion and the New Inn in Bwlch, Powys.
“It’s been a crazy year,” laughs Gareth.
“We never expected to win any awards. First we won the local pub of the year and then we were put forward to the North Wales pub of the year, which we then won and then we came third overall in Wales. We just never would have dreamt anything like it.
“We’ve probably peaked too early!”
Locally, Gareth predicts the real ale scene is going from strength to strength with more and more people willing to try something different especially in Mold where he credits the food festival and Novemberfest with bringing in more people to the town.
“We are so lucky to have the microbreweries we have on our doorstep,” he adds.
“They continue to make new beers, keep things fresh and make my job really easy because I’ve got fantastic local beers to sell.”
l For more information, including details of how to get involved, visit www.tryanuary.com or contact Tom on firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 07921 470 803.