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At Castle Rock, we are celebrating the New Year the right way: not by banishing all the things we enjoy, but by embracing them! Support your local Castle Rock pub this January with #TryJanuary, #Canuary, and #Ginuary.

New Year, New You! Here we go again…

What if January wasn’t a month hinged on messages that we aren’t good enough?

The messages plastered across the media every New Year tell us that we aren’t good enough, that our authentic selves aren’t up to par, and that life is a tick list of things we must accomplish to find happiness and self-worth. These messages tell us that the year we just lived wasn’t memorable, and that – if we don’t set and meet new goals – this year will be more of the same.

But what if we ignored all that and stopped burdening ourselves with unrealistic goals? Let’s say this January we don’t try to become shiny pod people, but instead bask in our individuality. Instead of quivering with guilt over what we consumed at Christmas, why don’t we fondly remember a month where we threw caution to the wind and had a bloody good time? And instead of hibernating at home and cutting ourselves off from socialising, maybe we could just continue to live our lives like it’s any other month of the year…

In the pub industry, January is infamous for being the toughest time of year. The aftermath of Christmas and the onslaught of the New Year resolutions means footfall drops considerably. The British pub continues to be under serious threat, we all know of closures taking place at the old boozer down the road, or the new pub in our village that opened and closed within a year. As Alcohol Concern’s ‘Dry January’ campaign puts pubs at risk, at Castle Rock we are celebrating the great British pub with #TryJanuary, #Canuary, and #Ginuary. Use it, or lose it!

Plus, there are plenty of events to get you off the sofa and out socialising again. Click here to see what’s on in January.

#TryJanuary

Have a month of experimenting with food and drink, and turn the dreariness of Jan into something fun. We’re creatures of habit, by nature, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have an adventure occasionally. Let’s branch out a bit, try something new and challenge our taste buds. Look out for special products and promotions in our pubs, and click here to find out about Castle Rock beers gracing our bars this January…

#Canuary

We suppose there are two meanings to take from the hashtag #Canuary. Firstly, a slightly corny ‘yes you can!’ carpe diem concept. Secondly, canned beer! Discover World Beers has brought an amazing selection of canned beer to Castle Rock bars, from favourites like Beavertown’s Gamma Ray, to Oskar Blues’ Ten FIDY. Yes, you Canuary! Keep an eye on our social media feeds and follow @DiscoverWBeers for updates.

#Ginuary

From the refreshing G&T to a Bees Knees (gin, honey and lemon – the cure for the common cold?), there are plenty of ways to enjoy Ginuary. For us, it’s a Sloe on the rocks please. Head over to the Kean’s Head to enjoy a selection of over 50 gins…

 

Last January Castle Rock’s Liv Auckland wrote about how non-drinkers can also be regular pub visitors, while millions went dry for January and stopped frequenting their local. We decided to share it again, in the hopes of inspiring those who have ‘gone dry’ to gather their friends and hit their local. But first… if you are set on going dry,  here are her suggestions on drinks for non-drinkers…

I love a good pint of pop as much as the next person, but it can get pretty dull always ordering draught cola at your local. If you’re going dry for January, or you’re simply “not much of a drinker” then fear no more! There are plenty of tasty, alcohol-free beverages to enjoy in Castle Rock pubs.

Bitburger Drive 0.05%

If you miss kicking back with a beer at the end of the day, Bitburger Drive is a must-try. Brewed exactly the same way as the full strength Bitburger Pilsner, the alcohol is removed only when the beer has matured completely, allowing it to retain all the qualities of the real deal. Technically at 0.05% alcohol, Bitburger Drive is considered to be alkoholfrei.

Cornish Orchards Juices and Sparkling Soft Drinks

These well-loved cider makers also produce pure, fresh pressed juices and sparkling soft drinks made with fresh Cornish water from their own spring (fancy!). My favourite is the ‘Orange and Lemon Sparkle’ which basically tastes like a far better, far more refreshing, far more grown-up bottle of Fanta.

Fentimans Botanically Brewed Beverages 

It’s virtually impossible to pick a top choice from the Fentimans range of soft drinks. Their extensive range includes boldly-flavoured favourites like Ginger Beer alongside more delicate combinations like Lime & Jasmine. For me, what I go for depends on the weather, what I’m eating, and my mood. All however, feel like a proper treat.

Last but by no means least

A really good coffee shouldn’t be seen as fuel for the working day, but as an opportunity to take a time out and relax. The majority of Castle Rock pubs stock Stewarts Coffee, roasted just around the corner from us at Trent Bridge, and it’s super tasty, sustainable stuff. Plus, I no longer have qualms about ordering a cuppa when I’m at a party or event, and sip away happily despite the confused glances.

 

Liv Auckland

Here we are again. January has rolled on round while we were busy looking the other way.

I was talking to some friends last night about the ‘New Year, new you’ mentality. We agreed there is something magical in the idea that millions of people across the world stop for a moment and decide to make a change in their lives. Some of us begin the year with truly heartfelt goals; of being kinder, more generous, braver. Most of us begin the year with goals of eating better, exercising more, learning something new. And many of us start the year by deciding to ‘go dry’.

Alcohol Concern’s annual Dry January campaign jumps right on the superior bandwagon, with their website spouting ‘take the challenge, banish the booze and feel like a new you!’ With over two million people signing up the campaign last year, and when former customers decide to avoid pubs altogether, those of us in the industry look on aghast. It is in fact possible to frequent and enjoy pubs, whether you drink alcohol or not. (Although let’s be realistic here: if one feels they need to make changes to their drinking habits, these changes should have longevity. It’s no surprise that the end of Dry January means a successful night for pubs and bars – making up for lost time, I suppose…)

I don’t really drink alcohol. I used to, especially as a teenager and a student. One day drinking simply wasn’t something I wanted to do. On paper, it’s strange to say ‘I work for a brewery and I don’t drink’. But I can also say that every day I learn something new. I also enjoy tasting our beers more now than ever before, and continue to enjoy exploring the aroma, the taste and the feel of a beer. It helps that my other half is Castle Rock’s world beer buyer, meaning there’s a passionate beer geek at hand to offer insight and wisdom.

And despite not drinking, I love pubs. Yes, I kind of should, for the sake of my job, but that’s not why I do. My childhood memories are peppered with the happiness of sitting in a sunny beer garden with my family, drinking lemonade and lime, and tucking into a bowl of chips. I remember grown-up spaces filled with cigarette smoke. I remember the forbidden land of our village local, where my dad spent an evening once a week with his friends, and lapping up the moment I stepped up over the threshold with my shiny ID at eighteen.

The summer before starting university I got a job in a pub. It was a lovely little place, nestled away in the West Sussex countryside with a river on one side and a camp site on the other. The couple who ran it were like cartoon characters. I adored them. My first shift, I walked up to the front door to find them howling with laughter as they tried to vacuum up a spider. I remember how excited I was to pull my first pint. Evenings were filled with laughter and music from the jukebox, before heading to bed with aching feet. During the day, the pub closed for a couple of hours. While my bosses headed to their apartment on the first floor, I would eat lunch and watch the telly. On the sunnier days, I’d read in the beer garden and soak up some rays. Once I bumped into a regular, who took me on a tour of the riverbank and showed me around his colourful little houseboat. On my last shift, a group of customers overheard me talking about heading off to uni, and handed me an envelope filled with notes and coins. I returned to work at the pub the next summer, but my former bosses had moved up North, and the new managers were abrasive. People do make a pub.

After visiting Nottingham Trent’s Clifton Campus, my mum and I took a drive into the city. We were in search of food, and came across the Canalhouse. It turns out that first day in Nottingham eventually led to me staying here instead of returning South, to working at Castle Rock, and to meeting my partner and friends.

As a group of English students new to West Bridgford, my friends and I selected the Stratford Haven as our local for the coming academic year. It was chosen immediately on spotting the Shakespearian logo. When living in the Lace Market, the Kean’s Head was always the best choice. It’s an ideal place to hide away; to be near everything but away from the bustle…a true sanctuary. Now, the Poppy and Pint is suited to my more conservative waking hours, and my love of cake.

The Canalhouse was and always will be my firm favourite. As a student, I’d gather the troops and we’d sit for whole afternoons, drinking coffee and workshopping screenplays. Nearing the end of my degree, I got a job there. It was intense. It’s no exaggeration that you must possess, or very quickly develop, certain characteristics to work in a busy pub. If you’ve been to the Canalhouse at Waterfront festival or mid-heatwave, you’ll know what I mean. Skill, speed, loyalty, and a good sense of humour are essential. At the end of the night we’d collapse on the sofas for a drink before heading home, and on those sofas we talked about every subject you can imagine.

You see, this is what pubs are: hubs. A good public house is a home. Great pubs sit at the heart of communities. Strangers build friendships in pubs. Pubs house communication and debate. People fall in love in pubs. The coffee is cheaper and just as good (if not better) than coffee from a chain, and pubs are generally quieter than Starbucks on a weekday afternoon. The Wi-Fi is just as free. The food is cooked by people with passion, who look after you by feeding you. If there’s music, it’s being selected for you by the bar staff, or being played live by a local musician. You can spend an hour drinking a glass of soda and nobody will hurry you along. And the people who work so hard, who work such long hours, who often dedicate their lives to creating a great pub, need us to appreciate these great things.

While Dry January dries up socialising, so do hours for staff. Many kitchen and bar staff find themselves trying to negotiate with their closest friends, deciding who will get the most hours that week. People go in search of full-time jobs, handing in their notice when the clock strikes a New Year. Those with the potential to have a career in the industry disperse into the reliability of national corporations. I stuck out January and I’m glad I did, because it passed and eventually I ended up here: A non-drinker who loves pubs and works for a brewery.

You can do both – be a non-drinker and a regular pub visitor. And if you love your local, you should do both.