I suspect that those who’ve made the New Year’s resolution to observe Dry January and abstain for the first month of the year are not reading this story right now. To quote Mae West, “I generally avoid temptation unless I can’t resist it.”
For breweries, bars, and beer distributors the term Dry January does not directly refer to the act of temperance. Nope, it simply refers to the fact that for any number of reasons January is the slowest sales month of the year. By a longshot. For those in the booze biz, January is always brutal. They dread it, they plan for it, and they suffer through it every year.
Not Guilt Trippin’
Yes, it’s a good thing for a person to step back every so often and evaluate their relationship with alcohol. When I suggest that this year there should not be a Dry January for the health of the industry, my goal is not to guilt anyone into continuing to drink alcohol if they don’t want to. If I’m capable of doing that… uh, maybe you really do need to evaluate. Be healthy and happy, live long and prosper.
I do question the timing. Why January? Perhaps the ritual of the New Year’s resolution exerts its own kind of guilt. Why not Dry May, when you are trying to regain your beach body? Why not Dry September, when you are recovering from all that summer fun? The month leading up to Thanksgiving and the holiday season seems natural, so why not Dry November? What about Lent?
The Driest January on Record
This year, Dry January is an existential threat for many of the breweries and bars you love. Given everything else happening in the world right now, with bars and brewery taprooms shut down for anything but outdoor seating, January of 2021 threatens to be drier than any January that ever came before. Many businesses are already teetering on the brink and even a typical January just might prove more than they can endure. This one? Oye!
Whatever January looks like for you personally, even if you’ve decided to teetotal your way through the month, I have some ideas about how you can help your local brewery, bar, and bottleshop get through this January.
Suck it up, Buttercup!
Stats show that the majority of people who will read this story live in the Pacific Northwest. If you don’t have a Gortex jacket and a warm parka, you’re doing it wrong. Many breweries and bars have adapted to the circumstances by adding outdoor seating, so there are still plenty of options for you to get out there and slurp some pints. You are not some delicate little flower, so suck it up!
If your precious little fingers get cold, bring some gloves. Just think about what so many businesses are going through and it makes your suffering seem paltry.
Buy More Than Beer
If your ears get cold in the beer garden, maybe that brewery has a nice beanie you can buy. You know you’ll be back again, so why not buy a gift card to use next autumn. Uncle Ted likes beer, and his birthday is coming up. Maybe it’s time for you to throw away some of those old T-shirts and hoodies and replace them with new brewery gear.
Consider it your own COVID-relief program. My point is obvious. Breweries and bars invest in merchandise. It is paid for and is just sitting there on the shelf waiting to be turned back into cash.
Brewery Stimulus Program
Far be it from me to tell anyone how they should spend their money, but if a certain amount of money recently fell into your lap, say $600 per tax-paying individual, perhaps sharing some of the love with a local brewery, bar, bottleshop, or other small, locally owned business isn’t a bad idea. Economic stimulus, right?
Of course, take care of yourself first. Use that money exactly as you need. Period! But if you plan to reinvest that money into the economy, I hope you’ll consider my suggestion. Best Buy, Home Depot, and American Airlines do not need that money so desperately as your local beer-focused business.
January and the Cellar Dwellers
Even if you’ve hopped on the wagon for January 2021, you can still find ways to support your local brewery or bottleshop. In addition to what I’ve mentioned above, consider stocking the cellar. Big, dark beers quite often appreciate a few months or more in a corner of your basement or garage.
Buy them now and find a cool, quiet, dark place to store those big and beautiful beers. You’ll have something special to share with family and friends when we get back to normal. Say, for Thanksgiving.
How nice will it be to celebrate the end of Dry November with a big, robust bottle of bourbon barrel stout?