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Drinking Up in Dry January

If you’re committed to, or even just considering, dry January – but equally not interested in becoming a complete hermit – here's how to enjoy drinking in bars without the booze.

Each year, as the Christmas slug starts to wear us all down and the endless glasses of wine and port start to stack up, January starts to look like an appealing month to reform our lives. New year, new you. 

Having a reset can be a great way to get us back on track, and drinking mindfully rather than swigging back alcohol without noticing the glasses talling up. However Dry January is a bit like a crash diet, for drinkers, and one which has little long-lasting health benefits. 

"Going really hard and then having a few weeks off will not help at all. Retox/Detox doesn’t work because our bodies only deal with what they have at this moment. Being good in a week’s time won’t help the choices you make today because by then your body has already dealt with the toxins,” says nutritionist Libby Limon.

So you're far more likely to successfully cut down on drinking, and feel healthier, if you take a few days off a week. That said, if you're committed to dry January, there are some amazing booze-free products out there to stop you sipping on bottles of sugary coke when meeting up with friends. Here's our top picks:

BOOZE-FREE BREWS

BrewDog Nanny State

This ‘non-alcoholic’ from the darlings of the UK craft scene doesn’t disappoint. Brewed with 5 different varieties of hops including, Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, Columbus, and Simcoe, and 8 different specialty malts, BrewDog’s Nanny State tastes so close to the real thing that you might find yourself craving a pint well after dry January has come to an end. At 0.5% ABV, which is the legal limit to be considered ‘alcohol free’ in many parts of Europe, including Germany (although not the UK), this light amber colored pale ale is hoppy and strangely moreish, and a definite game changer in the under 0.5% category.  

Schneider Weisse Mein Alkoholfrei

Brewed with top fermenting Obergaeriger yeast, this offering from Bavaria’s oldest wheat beer brewery will have you fooled. Much like the boozier original, Schneider Weisse Mein Alkoholfrei – meaning non-alcoholic for those who don’t speak German – is satisfying and refreshing, albeit slightly sweeter, with notes of banana bread on the palate. At only 20 calories per 100ml, this light alternative to a Hefeweizen is a pleasing exchange for drinking yet another sparkling water with lime down the pub.

Rothaus Non-Alcoholic Tannenzäpfle

Another alcohol-free offering from our beer-loving European cousins, this golden colored pilsner from the Black Forest is a surprisingly good example of the style. Easy-drinking and slightly skunky on the nose, there is even some mild bitterness present thanks to the use of aromatic hops from the regions of Tettnang and Hallertau in Germany. Rothaus Non-alcoholic Tannenzäpfle is marketed as an isotonic beverage, which means it should contain the same levels of sugar and salt present in the human body, and while we can’t confirm the validity of this assertion, we’ll take one of these over a Lucozade after a workout any day!

BOOZE-FREE SPIRIT

Seedlip

While sounding like a contradiction of terms, a non-alcohlic distilled spirit is exactly what Seedlip is. It’s a clear liquid made with botanicals, just as gin is. It’s slightly tannic, bitter even, with plenty of large flavours – lacking only that big punchy alcohol percentage. It’s delicious served long with tonic, short with olive brine or substituted into many gin-based cocktails. 

BOOZE-FREE WINE

Weinkonig Riesling

Yup, they even make alohcol-free wine. This tasty riesling is a genuine dry riesling from Rheinhessen which has an elegant, light citrus flavour of lemon and lime and tangy apple with a touch of minerality. After proper ageing, the alcohol is gently filtered from the wine. The wine is put through a special vacuum and is heated to 28 degrees. At this low temperature the alcohol evaporates as a gas. The gas is cooled and drops as colourless and tasteless liquid into a reservoir. When the alcohol is below the 0.5% level, the wine is classified as dealcoholised wine. This unique process does not disturb the complex flavours created during grape fermentation.

Win Tempranillo

Previously known as Eminasin Tempranillo, this is a young Spanish wine from Valbueno de Duero in the Castile-Leon region. It's fresher on the palate but with a more rounded mouth feel and the same intoxicating aromas of summer fruits and a hint of licorice, vanilla and sweet tannins with a clear cardinal red colour.

Carl Jung Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Chardonnay

An excellent medium-dry alcohol free sparkling wine from the chardonnay grape that shines with food. Carl Jung select quality wines and then remove the alcohol using a natural process of vacuum extraction at low temperature (under 30°C). This method does not cause thermal breakdown since the processing temperatures are no higher than those in fermentation. Because this process takes only a few minutes, the delicate ingredients of the wine are preserved intact (tannins, anthocyanins and trace elements).