Lessons Learned from a “Deferred January”

Lessons Learned from a “Deferred January”

by Mark E. Lasbury for Indiana On Tap

Well I’m glad that’s over.

My gut tells me that January, 2021 was about 1000 days long, and I swear I haven’t ever seen so many beer Facebook posts talking about interesting beers that I was not trying. Just like all you see are houses for sale when you’re house hunting, craving a beer means that you’ll see beer everywhere.

Overall, I think the experience was horrible – except for part about getting to support the breweries even if I wasn’t drinking. But it did reinforce how much certain aspects about beer mean to me. It was easy to not have a beer, but what I missed was experiencing craft beer – talking about what you are trying, describing the smells and flavors, asking a brewer what accounted for some certain aspect of the beer or a server about what’s going on in their life. Theoretical beer experiences just aren’t the same – it’s impossible to discuss the state of the world at the bar with beerslingers and patrons when you’re drinking a soda.

This is how my January went, but I used blood instead of Sharpie. image credit: thrillist

As a worked my way through January, two aspects that I particularly disliked were explaining what I was doing and why, and seeing that look in beerslingers’ and brewers’ eyes when I ordered a Diet Coke. I tended to visit more brewpubs in January so I could nosh a bit of food while I did some work. It felt awkward (on my part, the breweries couldn’t have been nicer) to sit down in a taproom and NOT drink a beer – beer is what they do.

I felt obligated to let my server know that I would be getting a gift card, some merchandise, or some package beer when I left, just so they knew I was going to be a worthwhile customer. But in the cases where I didn’t explain myself up front, I was still impressed that even though I was spending a lot of time and little money (it appeared), the servers were always attentive and congenial.

Physically, I didn’t notice much of a difference during January. I have no idea if I lost any weight; at least it wasn’t enough to notice. The proponents of a Dry January rely on data saying that people who do a sober month sleep better, have more energy, lose weight and improve blood sugars and BP – but I don’t trust people that don’t drink.

I find it ironic that they have “higher bank balance” pointing toward the gut, because you choosing not to drink is a gut punch to breweries, especially in January. image credit: Daily Mail

As a result of the deferred part of this January, Walter and I accumulated a lot of beer and beer merchandise. Fifteen gift cards – strange, I was halfway through the month before it dawned on me that gift cards could be used for draft beer later, not just food or merch. We ended up with lots of merchandise, but mostly what we ended up with was beer – tons of beer. Ok, so I did some math and we really only accumulated about 175 pounds of beer (not including the glass and aluminum), but that’s still a lot for one month.

We decided to do a share to get rid of it, since most of it wouldn’t age that well, and it’s more than Walter and I can drink in a timely fashion. We have invited some friends to help us out and I predict we’ll all go through it in just a few hours. It will be fun, but what it represents is more important – we found ways to support Indiana craft breweries and retailers even if we weren’t drinking at the time. In my case, I spent just as much on breweries in January as I do every other month.

We ended up with 20 good meals, fifteen gift cards for future use or gifts, four brewery shirts, some stickers and glasses, four new growlers filled, two new howlers filled, 20 crowlers, eight six packs, 12 four packs, and five bombers of beer. I was able to visit every part of the state and support breweries in each region, including Fort Wayne, Terre Haute, South Bend, the Indianapolis area, Muncie, Lafayette, New Albany, Crown Point, and Bloomington. I feel good about supporting many breweries during a month that is normally very slow, and doubly so with Covid.

Just part of the beer Walter and I accumulated during a deferred January. Click for a larger image, how many breweries can you pick out? image credit: Walter

My conclusions for the month are as follows:

1) I went 31 days without any alcohol, so I’m definitely not an alcoholic. I had no detox symptoms and it didn’t require any treatment to accomplish it. However, I suppose I could still be a problem drinker.

2) My dry month did start me drinking Diet Coke again, but I know that will stop as soon as I return to my normal taproom behavior.

3) So many people congratulated me when they heard I was doing a Dry January. I don’t get that…..at all. It’s not good or bad, it’s not noteworthy, it’s not crowd following or novel, it just is.

4) Beer is much more of a social activity than it is a physical activity for me.

5) Indiana producers are behind the curve in producing non-alcoholic beers. All but one I found were from out of state, and therefore didn’t partake, but I have to say that I do like the Hop Tea from Ellison Brewing.

6) I learned that I use UnTappd for much more than logging beers. Writing about beer and moving taking Indiana On Tap’s ticketing platform national has necessitated searching UnTappd’s databases often.

7) My appreciation of Indiana servers, which was high, has only grown.

8) Brewers and servers can talk about much more than beer. When you’re on a Dry January, you can’t talk about the beer you’re NOT drinking.

9) I suppose I’m a better person for doing this just because it is something else I have experienced and now have some new appreciations….. but I won’t be doing it again.

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