Sober October

Erdinger Alkoholfrei in The Black Cat

You’ve probably heard of Sober October by now, a charity fundraising drive by Macmillan cancer support, encouraging people to lay off the bevvy for a whole month.

With this and “Dryuary” in January (such a bad brand name), I’ve noticed plenty of complaints from pubs, offies and breweries about these occasional alcohol-free drives which put a small dent in their bottom line. To them I say this: quit moaning and embrace it!

Pubs should have a wider selection of low- or no-alcohol bottles than usual, or even on tap (that’d be a first). Take part in the proceedings, raise some money for charity, put on a festival, even. Customers who’re signed up for a dry month shouldn’t feel they have to sit at home avoiding the pub. Make them feel welcome, encourage them to your pub and keep their business. Personally, I can easily handle a month without beer, but not a month without the pub, so whoever had the best booze-free beers would get my custom.

Offies should put deals on, having pre-selected some of the more palatable brews, selling small cases with accompanying live tastings on Twitter. I imagine online offies see a large spike in traffic and sales of low ABV beers in October and January, don’t let them get away with it so easily!

And so to breweries. I know it’s hard to make tasty low alcohol beers, but there are some very talented brewers out there who love a challange. Where are the “craft” sub-1% beers? I can think of only a few. Mikkeller’s “Drink’in The Snow” seems to have been well received, though I haven’t tried it, and Brewdog’s Nanny State is relatively good when compared to the typical offerings. Where are all the rest?

The Scottish general public has a part to play here too. Why does drinking low-alcohol beer have a stigma attached to it? In Germany, drivers and pregnant women happily knock back a host of brews by reputable breweries. We seem to be stuck in the 80s and automatically think of Kaliber, a foul drink bad enough to put anyone off for life. Drop this daft mentality, and if you’re a Sober Octoberer, demand interesting alcohol-free beer from your local, or take your business elsewhere for a month.

So, it’s a bit late, but I’m joining in and taking a while off the booze, as of yesterday. In that time I’m going to explore the world of sub-1% beer and I expect to find a few relatively tasty options, and get some idea of which pubs and offies in Edinburgh cater to this admittedly small share of the market. If you’re a pub landlord or offy manager and stock sub-1% beers, leave a comment below and I’ll try to make a trip before the month’s out.



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