New Year, but no Dry January for me. Cheers!
Doing the daily Facebook check this morning, I notice lots of my friends are taking part in the Alcohol Concern Dry January Challenge. They’re doing pretty well with it too, so kudos to them.
Don’t worry – I’m not thinking of doing it myself. I know I’m not an alcoholic, because I don’t go to meetings. What’s more, I only ever drink if there’s an ‘a’ in the day. That posed a problem when I started to learn Spanish, because only Martes and Saboado actually sport that first letter of the alphabet, so rather than restrict my drinking to Tuesdays and Saturdays, I remain stubbornly monolingual on the days of the week, drinking purposes for the use of. But I digress.
What prompted this post was our granddaughter’s fiance’s pleasure at finding another alcohol free cider. While some people might say that drinking alcohol free versions of your favourite tipple is missing the point, I don’t see it as a problem. There’s only so much water and Coke you can drink, and unless you go for diet versions, you’re going to take in way too much in the way of sugar and calories with soft drinks. Alcohol free beers and ciders are a good alternative, and if you’d rather not tell your mates you’re on a dry run because they’ll try to talk you out of it, it’s not so obvious.
The problem with alcohol free drinks in the UK is two-fold: There isn’t a very good choice, and they’re much more expensive than ‘real’ beers. That’s Rip Off Britain at its best again, because the brewers claim it’s more expensive to produce alcohol free beers, as the alcohol has to be removed after brewing.
One question: if that’s the case, why isn’t alcohol free beer more expensive in Spain? Here, every beer brand has an alcohol free equivalent, even the supermarket own brands, and while the quality and taste varies, the alcohol free version is the same price as the standard beer. So, if Spanish brewers can do that on every brand and charge the same price, why do UK brewers feel the need to charge a premium on the few beers for which they produce an alcohol free or low alcohol equivalent?
Back in the day, the only UK alcohol free beer was Kaliber, and it was disgusting. No way did it taste remotely like lager. These days, the quality is better – Becks and Cobra are as good as the standard versions – but it’s still more expensive, unless the supermarkets put on a special offer, and even then there is usually just one alcohol free version on offer, compared to several regular beers.
Here is Spain, there is sure to be an alcohol free version of your favourite tipple. Tony loves German wheat beer, and there is an alcohol free version of that. He’s doing his own version of Dry January – each year, he takes a break from alcohol between New Year and his birthday on 23 January. This year, after a rather liquid Christmas, he started the dry run on on 27 December. So, I’ve stocked up on alcohol free wheat beers, and San Miguels, Amstels and Bucklers.
Those are his favourite brands, and unlike the UK supermarkets, Consum has 3 or 4 alcohol free beers on promotion each month. Some of them – like San Miguel and Buckler – are completely alcohol free. Others, including Amstel and the wheat beer, have a small amount of alcohol, typically between 0.5 and 0.9%. While that’s not totally alcohol free, it’s a big improvement on the usual 5% or thereabouts for Spanish beers.
Not all alcohol free beers are created equal, so if you’re thinking of a dry run, it’s worth trying the different ones. Just buy a couple of cans if it’s a new one for you. Tony doesn’t like Skol or Finkbrau, Lidl’s own brand. He thinks that both have a ‘chemical’ taste, and Skol gives him a headache. Of course, somebody else may be fine with that, so I wouldn’t recommend anything.
However, when you do find a brand you like, it’s worth stocking up when they’re on offer, because there are some great savings to be made. Last month, San Miguel was 39 cents instead of 54 at Consum, and Franziskaner wheat beer was €1 instead of €1.35.
So, are you having a Dry January? How is it going? And what’s your take on Spanish alcohol free beers? Personally, I’m not a fan. To me, they all have a strange taste. If I’m on a dry run, I prefer a shandy.