It’s July and my year without beer – a whole year without any alcohol is over 50% complete! When I started this journey back in January I was unsure how I would deal with a number of social occasions and joked about 10 lagers I wouldn’t be drinking in 2012. Each of these beers featured heavily in 2011 and it was hard for me to imagine being in some of those situations without the beer of choice. I think at the 50% mark of my year without beer it is time to revisit this list…
During 2011 I found myself doing a fair amount of international travel for work, including a number of visits to the Netherlands where each trip would include some Amstel. According to Wikipedia, the Amstel brewery produces 36 million litres per year. Well, hopefully this year they have produced a few less as my trips to Holland have been completely without beer, or any other booze. Initially I think the locals found it a bit strange when sealing business deals. This typically involves them suggesting we go for a beer. I have no problem with this, but chose to drink water or mint tea as I toast the deal. At least they’ve now had six months to get used to me! The other thing that has been great on my trips to the Netherlands has been the discovery of the Juicy Details juice bar at Schiphol airport. Fresh wheatgrass shots are definitely better than the food to be found in most airports.
Another place I found myself visiting for work in 2011 was Brazil and I have been back a couple of times so far this year. Last year I was particularly taken with Brahma Chope (draft beer) and the local cocktail, Caipirinha. This year I have found something even better - Cupuaçu. Cupuaçu is a local fruit that I tried in Belem in the Amazon region of Brazil. I only tried it because it is a local speciality that next you don’t even find in other parts of Brazil, but have done so and really enjoyed it I also discovered it is classed as a natural “super food”. I tried Cupuaçu cooked with fish, served as a desert and also as a delicious juice. The thing I have learned you must do in Brazil when ordering a juice is to ask for it without sugar. If you don’t then they will always add some as it appears most Brazilians have a very sweet tooth!
Now this was a tough one to decide when making my list, Chang or Singha? Ever since going to Thailand with my wife back in 2004 I have been deeply in love with Thai food and Thai beer, but this year Thai food has been an alcohol free event. Actually I have very much enjoyed a few Thai meals in 2012 and have typically washed these down with either water, jasmine tea or on one occasion a mocktail (alcohol free cocktail). The mocktail was absolutely delicious, even if I can no longer remember what was in it. My wife showed her support for my year without beer during this meal by accompanying her meal with a bottle or two of Chang!
My first major non-drinking challenge of 2012 was curry without Kingfisher. It was the first time in about 20 years I have just been out for a curry without having any beer! The two colleagues I was with were happily slurping their pints whilst I happily sipped my bottle of water. Since then I’ve been out for quite a few curries without beer, including something I would have thought completely unthinkable at the start of January – a stag weekend without beer (or any other alcohol). Many stag weekends I’ve been on have included beer with breakfast! It was interesting to see the waiters face in the Indian restaurant when we ordered 8 beers and a bottle of water!
Kirin Ichiban is one the most popular beers in Japan and until starting my year without beer was definitely my favourite drink to have when visiting a Wagamama noodle bar. I am a fan of Wagamama and this has not changed during my booze free year. If anything, my love of Wagamama has increased now that I have discovered their delicious raw juice. Wagamama’s “Raw Juice” is made from freshly juiced carrot, cucumber, tomato, orange and apple and is an all-round high-nutrient drink. The staff did think I was a bit weird when I ordered just a raw juice at Heathrow Terminal 5 for breakfast, but it is important to remember that fresh juices are a meal not just a drink!
Moretti is probably my favourite Italian lager, although I did discover another great one in July 2011 (Castello) when Jamie’s Italian opened in Cheltenham (UK). We have been to Jamie’s a few times this year, where the food has always been really tasty. Trips to Jamie’s have been accompanied with another new favourite drinking of mine, sparkling water with a nice big chunk of lime. I am sure this will not appear to the beer drinkers out there, but it is definitely working for me during my booze free year.
Guess what? I haven’t drunk any Red Stripe during my year without beer. I’ve been a fan of Red Stripe for years and every time I taste it takes me straight to the West Indies (as does Carib and Piton). Crystal Lime rum is another drink that puts me straight back on to a beautiful Caribbean beach, but I made sure I finished my bottle of that on New Years Eve. Thinking about it though, pineapple also takes me straight to that ‘sunshine’ feeling and I’ve gone through LOADS of pineapples this year, both eating them and including them in juices and smoothies.
Another great sunshine beer and I actually still have a whole case of this in my garage that I didn’t get round to finishing before starting my booze free year. I am kind of surprised that my wife hasn’t drunk it yet but I suspect this is due to the lack of sunshine we’ve had so far this year. Once summer kicks in properly I am sure it will get opened and disappear.
Let’s just say that Miss Stella and I are continuing with our trial separation. I’m not filling for divorce yet, but who knows what will happen at the end of the year…
If you love Chinese food and happen to be in Cheltenham (UK) then you should visit 288 Bar & Wok. I gave this recommendation when I made my list in January and I am still making it now. Prior to this year I don’t think I ever visited 288 Bar & Wok without a pint or two of Sun Lik, but I can now recommend their jasmine tea too!
Year Without Beer
I am spending all 366 days of this leap year alcohol free in an attempt to raise money for charity. If you want to show some love them please donate to my year without beer and give your support to one of these fantastic causes:
- To donate to Cancer Research UK please click here to visit my just giving page or donate by text – send AYWB66 and the amount to 70070. For example, texting “AYWB66 £5″ will donate £5.
- To donate to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust please click here to visit my just giving page or donate by text – send AYWB55 and the amount to 70070. For example, texting “AYWB55 £5″ will donate £5.