Beer Is Our Happy Place | Mashtun and Meow: Sheffield Beer Blog

Monday, 7 January 2019

Beer Is Our Happy Place

Why we aren't doing Dry January


To all those abstaining, reducing, limiting or quietly enjoying your alcohol intake, during this month we wish you well. We aren't writing this as an admonition, a lecture, a criticism, or as a way to undermine the decision. We appreciate your choice, and wish you well, from the sideline, or rather from a pub lounge, snug or otherwise.

Really we want to say why aren't doing Dry January, a "Dryathlon" and woe betide becoming "Dryathletes."

Just over a year ago, we went booze free for a full month. We made the decision together, around one of Jim's lowest points in his life. A stretch of emptiness and unhappiness, sleepless nights, that led into early shifts in the brewery. A period of too much whisky, which went hand in hand with bad sleep, the cycle of abuse of his body, the wearing down of mind careering to burnout, then..... Chester Bennington.

The death of a childhood icon is hard enough, but when it's self caused, after a period of self abuse despite being surrounded by his family. The situation was too close to home, and it hurt. It Hurt.

Looking back it's a turning point for that wave of unhappiness... there were still lows, but there was a maybe an exit of the quagmire, and we wondered if that could come with sobriety. We set a date, November 2017, postponed (from July) primarily due to the over full calendar of beer fests, events, birthdays and more events.

Perhaps the month would push toward clearer, happier minds. Maybe some good sleep, maybe better skin, shift some weight and have a few more quid to take towards Christmas. So, through tired and teary eyes, a kickstarter was set up, and a little hope glimmered.

The month itself was a long one, without fanfare we plodded through the days, still hoping for clarity, both of mind and skin. a lighter step, through fewer hangovers and a little weight loss? But as the month passed alcohol was replaced by cheese, and the positivity of pub companionship was replaced by boredom and restless isolation. (in no way a reflection on our friends, who were all very supportive, but a general feeling of self-inflicted inadequacy). None of the enthusiastic promises that campaigners for sobriety chime were delivered.

While we did head out occasionally, the lack of appealing choice that wasn't a saccharine pint of fizz was pretty much non existent. For those of us (which is both of us) who like the bitterness found in beer, or the dryness in a red wine, essentially the only thing to drink was tonic. While periodically we would stumble across a good Root Beer it wasn't in our usual haunts. Laura turned to tea in abundance.

And so, after a month of abstemiousness, which came to an abrupt end with the work Christmas outing on December 1st (what could possibly go wrong? Ask the Beer O'Clock Show Crimbo Crawl lot...), we had raised a massive £1000 for CALM (a charity which works to raise awareness of and make moves to combat male suicide - please do look them up if you aren't already aware of them). A humbling amount of money and overall worth it to give up something we genuinely enjoy for the cause. But we didn't feel a sense of achievement. We weren't worthy of any sort of accolade. We just stopped drinking, and largely stopped enjoying ourselves.

What this month off did give us was a reassurance that our drinking habits aren't doing us any harm. Rather they offer us an outlet for enjoyment, for shared experiences, and job satisfaction. By the end we just really clearly appreciated what we had missed - yes, the flavour, but more importantly the pubs and people and comradeship.

We are mindful of our drinking choices - always have been, but even more so following the month off. Whilst we do drink alcohol most days, often this will be one carefully selected bottle or can of beer which we'll share and enjoy. Quality over quantity is a much used mantra but it's something we like to apply to our lifestyles, not only in terms of alcohol but also in the food that we eat and the clothes that we wear. We support local businesses, we buy ethically sourced products wherever we can.

The pub is an institution, a community asset, and across the nation we are in danger of losing our locals and we will use them all year round. We'd like to at this point direct you to a campaign which we believe shares these values - Tryanuary. In championing local beers and venues, Tryanuary supports the beer industry during a month which can be particularly difficult.

Maybe this is less about the January thing and more about our love of the pub, and of what else it can bring apart from "just" a pint. They are our happy place, and if you haven't already found yours, there is a window seat, booth or corner with a beer mat waiting for you to fill it. Go and discover yours.

Cheers,
Jim and Laura

*Written in part in the pub - Pour, to be precise. We had a lovely time.

Happy Place
PS - Jim's doing ok. While there are still some times of darkness, there is much that is light. There's no magic solution, no "off" button on the brain, but we still see the decisions described above to be part of an acceptance, a self-awareness and a realisation that it's good to be open and most of all to TALK.

If any of you read this and need a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, or a pal to have a pint with, please don't keep quiet. We're both here, and we're listening.

Pps - our fundraising page is still active, justgiving.com/mashtunandmeow if anyone would like to support the work of CALM. 

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