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Chances are if you’re on social media, you’ve heard of “Dry January,” the trend of giving up alcohol for the first month of the year. According to some Colorado residents, the challenge isn’t new, but it is worth a try.
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Kara Rowland, a 39-year-old Denver resident, is on her third year of the challenge. She has family at home in D.C. taking on the challenge with her, but as far as her local Colorado group goes, she’s doing it alone.
“Out here it really is a solo effort,” Rowland said. “You can’t go a block here, especially in downtown Denver, without hitting a brewery.”
It’s not just the city that experiences the alcohol-heavy social culture. Steve Indrehus is the director of brewing operations at Tommyknocker Brewery in Idaho Springs. He said alcohol was a big part of older generations, like his.
Others continue to sound off on social media, explaining their reasons for going sober all year long, and saying the social landscape in society doesn’t exactly make it easy.
Indrehus thinks now however, he’s starting to see a shift.
“The younger generations aren’t leaning on alcohol as hard for social interaction,” he said.
“Dry January” is a phenomenon Indrehus has seen grow over the years, even beyond the month.
“The non-alcoholic category is entering our culture and becoming a stable part of our culture,” he said.
Tommyknockers has ventured into the category, offering a NA version of its most popular beer, the Blood Orange IPA.
Indrehus himself is participating in “Dry January,” explaining that he can already see a difference in his focus and sleep. He said he also likes the aspect of leaving his comfort zone.
“I like uncomfortable, challenging things,” he said.
Indrehus said there are some misconceptions about NA beer, mainly in that people expect it to be cheaper. He explained that it's actually the opposite.
“Most people would think NA beer would be less expensive because it doesn’t have alcohol, but it's actually more expensive,” he said.
Essentially, brewers like the team at Tommyknockers have to go through the process of making beer but then take the alcohol out, which takes more time, labor and money.
Rowland, a self-proclaimed craft beer enthusiast, has been exploring NA options during the month.
“I went to dinner with a friend last Saturday and the restaurant had some NA options,” she said. “There’s some, if I gave it to you, you would not know it's a NA beer.”
Besides taking the month to get perspective of her drinking habits, Rowland said she’s also seen positive effects on her body.
“I think having zero alcohol improves your sleep,” she said.
She also noticed a renewed glow in her complexion.
“Maybe it's a placebo effect, but I look in the mirror and I swear my skin looks a little better,” she said.
Dr. Manan Shah, ENT and Chief Medical Officer at Wyndly, said the improvements in sleep are just one real side effect of “Dry January.” He explained that better sleep is one of the biggest benefits he sees from giving up alcohol.
“Alcohol affects your sleep, even if you only have one or two drinks, your sleep will markedly improve if you drop alcohol,” he said.
Shah added that dropping the drink can also help decrease your risk of cancer, improve sex drive, help weight loss and support a healthy immune system.
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