• Written by Olivia Auckland
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January can be a tough month, for many people and for many reasons. It’s a month-long hangover of post-Christmas blues, unhappy bank balances, tight waistbands and navigating icy pavements. Some people subscribe to the “New Year New You” mentality. They tackle new health and fitness regimes, take another crack at the children’s book they started writing in the nineties, or vow to get up an hour earlier for a yoga session before work. Some of us, many of us it seems, recoil from the cold bleakness of January and go into hibernation. Sofa, cuppa, remote, sorted.

While all this takes place, businesses suffer, and pubs are no exception. January is infamous for being the toughest month of the year for pubs. Sometimes it’s so tough that it takes months for pubs to recover. Some of them never do. In addition to the super-speed pro-activity or sloth-like hunkering down, we face Dry January. This charity-led, well-meaning attempt to get people off the booze for a month has grown in its success over past years, and publicans like ourselves have watched on aghast.

Firstly, we are big believers in moderation. Drinking responsibly, in moderation, is surely better for your mental and physical health than eleven months of over-drinking broken by a one-month abstinence. We can confirm, from the front line, that dry Januarys are often followed by a celebratory alcohol binge on February 1st. Secondly, when thousands of people choose to “go dry”, it damages our pubs, pubs that are already under threat and continuing to close at an alarming rate.

Pubs aren’t just about great beer or spirits or wines (although those things certainly help to make a pub great). Pubs create jobs and contribute to the economy. In many cases, they provide life-long careers. Pubs boost the tourism industry of Britain. Most importantly, pubs are social hubs. They provide a space where you can get away from it all – for a coffee and a read, for a date, for a meeting, for food with the family, for spending time with friends.

If you want to take a break from alcohol this January, please do! We’re in no way saying you shouldn’t do what you feel is right for you. But we do humbly ask that you continue to visit your Castle Rock local – or any local if we’re not nearby! You don’t need to be drinking to benefit from spending a few hours socialising down the pub.

Throughout January, Castle Rock pubs have offers on soft drinks as well as other non-alcoholic drinks, so you get to save a bit of money, fulfil your Dry January obligations, and perk yourself up with a night among other human beings! Enjoy alcohol-free cocktails, alcohol-free beer, botanical soft drinks and locally roasted coffee alongside good food and good conversation.

Not only are we catering for those who choose to abstain, but we’re encouraging our customers to see January as a month of exploration and trying new things. ‘Try January’ in other words.  If you’ve enjoyed fruity bottled ciders in the past for example, our new edition of the Castle Rock Quarter includes suggestions for fruity real ciders. Gin comes to the forefront with #Ginuary, as does the small but mighty canned beer with #Canuary. Look out for offers and promotions in our pubs, plus new, interesting, experimental and exciting food and drinks.

If you go for moderation not abstinence, share your discoveries with the hashtags #TryJanuary, #Tryanuary and #GoPub to reach out to like-minded beverage and food adventurers!

Whatever you choose to do, let’s quash the January blues and roll into 2018 with a positive outlook, one of trying new things and exploring new territories.

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