It was New Year’s Eve (my birthday) and as I was making my way through the 5 10%+ beers the Buxton Tap House had on that night the other half made a suggestion. “Why don’t you only drink beer 6% or below in January as your Tryanuary challenge?” Through the fog of imperial stouts I agreed and drank a farewell Tsar Bomba.
Tryanuary is a great concept, a big fuck you to the deluded dry crowd who think they are somehow healing themselves and gaining some sort of smug enlightenment by not drinking for the whole of January. It doesn’t help you, you go back to drinking how you usually do in February, and sometimes more to compensate. Just learn moderation and stop being so extreme you dicks. Tryanuary is also about trying new things so for me this means a lot of pale ales. I don’t usually drink pale ales that much, preferring dark beers or sours. It’s also about visiting new places, extending your beer love money to new faces and generally supporting the beer industry.
I started on New Year’s Day in Buxton. We visited some pubs we hadn’t been in and I drank a few beers which I usually avoid and describe as “old man beers”, mainly bitters and red ales. Tribute Extra was one that stood out to me. I was quite taken aback by how much I liked it. I also had this in a great little micropub in Buxton called Ale Stop. They only have three taps but they are pretty good and have a fantastic bottle selection. They had beers from Torrside and Tempest on whilst we were there.
Some examples of the beers that Ale Stop have had
Back in London I popped into Hop Burns & Black for drinks for a friend’s birthday, I searched the shelves for something under 6% I hadn’t had and came across Wild’s Epic Saison in the bin ends box. It’s the last one so surely I need to rescue it! And so I did and I was rewarded handsomely, how have I not had this before? I suppose it got overshadowed by Wild’s more exotic sounding offerings (winey beast, bibble, ninkasi, sleeping lemons etc). I will definitely be having this again, tryanuary success!
Going through my Untappd I can see I’ve had quite a lot of flavoured beers. Not sure if this is the in thing, I’ve seen all sorts of weird abominations (Jester King’s – Snorkel, an oyster mushroom and sea salt farmhouse sour) is this going to get a bit silly?
I’ve had To ol’s Releaf Me which is a refreshing blonde brewed with keffir lime leaves. Black Market’s Blackberry Berliner. Thornbridge’s Charlie Brown (Peanut butter Brown Ale) needed more peanut butter but their strawberry pale (I love you will you marry me) was spot on and reminiscent of Campinos. My favourite was Lindeman’s Pecheresse at only 2.5% I could drink it all night. I have a major sweet tooth so this suited me down to the ground.
I’ve tried a few things I would definitely never go for. Such as Weird Beard’s Faithless Spreadsheet Ninja. I’m not a pilsner or a sorachi ace fan but, I have to hand it to them, this was fantastic. I have another bottle waiting in the fridge already.
But , as they say, you win some you lose some. I tried a can of Adnam’s Crystal Rye IPA after spotting it in Morrison’s and, although it was perfectly drinkable, me and crystal are just not going to ever get on.
I also picked up a Theakstons Distillers Cask which reminded me of Innis & Gunn but without the sweet sickly taste. For 79p it was worth it and I’m sure it would go lovely in a cake.
Beer of Tryuanuary for me though is Mad Hatter’s Brunch Club. It’s a pale ale at 5.4% but the flavour hit is ridiculous. The word juicy banger gets banded around a lot but this certainly deserves it. I just need somewhere local to stock it now. It’s borderline whether I prefer this over Magic Rock’s Cannonball. Shock, horror.
I’ve not done too well on the visiting new places front mainly due to moving house halfway through. My new location is Peckham and I’ve not been to The Hope before so I popped in there for a Sunday roast and a pint of Brick’s Peckham Rye. They have a great selection of beers on cask, keg and in bottle. The Sunday roast was fantastic with a choice of beef, pork, lamb, duck, chicken or a veggie.
I also managed to pop into The Beer Shop in Nunhead for a bottle of Cloudwater Ardbeg. I didn’t get to sit in and drink but I’ll be returning on Friday.
I also went along to The Bottle Shop for the Crafty Beer Girls monthly meet up. There were 17 of us when I left, a great turn out and fun to drink and chat beer with girls for a change. Plus the cakes provided were scrumptious. If you are a woman who works in beer in London get yourself along. They have a Twitter and a Facebook group you can join.
My challenge was all going well until 23 January. For this was the day I was reunited with my one true beer love, Noa Pecan Mud Cake. The Bottle Shop thwarted my challenge by having it on tap but the other half said I’d done well and that if I was going to fail it should be on my favourite beer. So fail I did and it was a glorious failure as it was the barrel aged version!
Tryanuary has taught me a few things. I’ve learnt to like lighter beers, I’ve learnt to pair them with food. I’ve also learnt that a good bitter can be a great warming friend on a cold day.
Next year when you’re feeling guilty about all the food and drink you’ve had just sit and think about all the food and drink you haven’t had. Get out there and get trying. You might like what you find.