Dry January

Real ale campaigners embrace alcohol free beer

Christine Humphreys
by Christine Humphreys
Published: December 13, 2023
Man drinking pint of real ale - hopefully alcohol-free!
BEER buffs battling to save British pubs are adopting a strategy embracing alcohol-free alternatives to keep tap room tills ringing.
News outlets are reporting that the campaign group CAMRA is appealing to people taking part in Dry January not to abandon their local boozer.
According to the reports, the organisation that has championed the cause for ‘real ale’ for more than half a century is now open to seeing ale houses packed with people enjoying a zero-point pint.
Brewers, licensees and pub chains have often been fierce critics of the public health initiative aimed to persuade drinkers to take a break after the excesses of the festive season.

Millions take the pledge

They complain that the economy suffers, livelihoods are threatened and pubs risk going bust when millions of people take the pledge to stay sober for 31 days.
The CAMERA appeal, penned by Neville Grundy, an organiser of one of the groups local branches in north west England, suggests the attitude from the largely hostile hospitality industry is softening.
Rather than giving the pub a wide berth, Mr Grundy invites drinkers to support their local by sampling the vast variety of non-alcohol beers that have flooded the market in recent years.
Mr Grundy says that while the holiday season is a boon for business, there is a sudden collapse in trade once the new year arrives.

Quality and choice

He says: “At that point, perhaps after some seasonal excesses, many people decide to go 'on the wagon' for a month or two. Nothing wrong with this, but for our pubs and bars it can be a matter of 'after the feast, the famine'. 
“Perhaps a more nuanced approach, rather than the black-and-white options of either indulgence or total abstention, may provide an approach that is more satisfactory both for our pubs and for drinkers.”
He points out that the quality and choice of non-alcoholic drinks has never been better with many brewers producing de-alcoholised versions of their popular beers and some pubs even having such beers on tap.
Mr Grundy concludes: “Such options allow you to have a drink, support your local and at the same time cut your alcohol intake. This is worth considering rather than completely boycotting pubs for a month or two. 
“There are also other reduced or zero alcohol drinks, such as spirits, so that being on the wagon doesn't have to mean the misery of avoiding your local and your friends.”
Christine Humphreys

About The Author

Christine Humphreys
Chris Humphreys is the co-founder of The Alcohol-Free Shop and She was a journalist for more years than she cares to remember. Ex-wife of an alcoholic, enthusiastic amateur musician and a passionate dog lover.