Last Rites Before #DryJanuary

In Beer Reviews by Ryan

As the days ticked down on 2018 I made the decision to take the plunge and give up all alcohol for the month of January. The reasons were many: I probably indulged a bit more this year in the days leading up to Christmas and through New Year’s Eve than years past, I could stand to lose about 20 pounds, and, frankly I just wanted to take a break. 2018, it seems, was a year in which the craft beer community finally took a long, hard look at the health consequences of over-consumption, which can impact beer nerds, brewery employees and beer writers alike.

There have been plenty of articles extolling the virtues of #DryJanuary, a movement started a couple of years ago in the UK. Studies have shown you get better sleep, you have more energy and — perhaps most importantly of all — you give your liver a breather.

Admittedly, my beer consumption has steadily declined over the years. What was 2-3 beers a night has dwindled to maybe one every other night and a couple on the weekends. Having young kids and the looming threat of someone needing something or wetting something at any given hour of the night tends to do that.

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But this post isn’t about Dry January and why I’m doing it. It’s actually about what beer I drank to close out 2018 and why. You see, I wanted to ensure I closed out the year and began my 31 days of sobriety without regrets. I approached finding that last six pack like a search for a “Desert Island Beer,” but instead of finding a beer I could drink everyday for the rest of my life I was looking for a beer I could savor over a few days.

“You don’t have to spend a lot of time studying this one, and that’s the beauty of it. Sure, you could get lost in its depth, but you don’t have too.”

That beer was Pilsner Urquell.

Over the past year I’ve found myself gravitating back to beers I haven’t had in years or a decade, even. Beers like Rogue Dead Guy, Great Lakes Elliot Ness, Bell’s Porter and most recently Pilsner Urquell. Instead of taking a chance on that new hazy IPA, a new Brut IPA or [insert pastry stout name here] I wanted to go back to beers I knew were good, and I found I appreciated them much more this time through.

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Arguably the dean of pilsners, Pilsner Urquell was crushable before it was a word. It askews its American counterparts by not being overly hoppy. It’s crisp, yet creamy, and gives off a nose of fluffy biscuits and floral hops. The palate is greeted with spicy and floral hops, subdued but noticeable, followed by biscuit malt for balance and crisp, clean finish.

You don’t have to spend a lot of time studying this one, and that’s the beauty of it. Sure, you could get lost in its depth, but you don’t have too. It took a more than 100 year old beer to remind just how much I like a more restrained pilsner.

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I spent New Year’s Eve at one of my local breweries, enjoying a nicely spiced winter warmer, a balanced double IPA and an acceptable attempt at a copper lager (it’s nearly impossible to top Metro’s Dyamo).

We called it quits before midnight.

When I got home, I was thisclose to cracking open the last of two Pilsner Urquells. But, it was after midnight, so I didn’t. So now I have those two bottles to greet me at the finish line of #DryJanuary.

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About the Author



Equal parts beer nerd and policy geek, Ryan is now the curator of the Guys Drinking Beer cellar. The skills he once used to dig through the annals of state government as a political reporter are now put to use offering unique takes on barrel-aged stouts, years-old barleywines and 10 + year verticals.

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