In the words of the great Jon Bon Jovi; "Woah! We're half way there." Yep, since the last episode I've passed the mid-point of this year off drinking. The biggest lesson I've learnt from my sober six months is that the habit of beer drinking can easily be separated from alcohol. As Fergus from Adnams told us, the beer in an alcohol-free product is THE SAME BEER that's in the regular product. There are some additive differences, but in terms of taste... it's come from the same source.
This is huge. We've talked about pubs quite a lot, and we both love their atmosphere, the friendship, meeting-place, as our Irish friends would call it; the craic. Being able to keep this in my life, but massively reducing the alcohol intake is key to the 2021+ version of me. I know this is hard for some people to comprehend, but I can completely see a future where people meet in pubs to drink AF lager as a group... just think about the recent shift from cigarettes to vape - yes, it took legislative change and a MASSIVE advertising push, but the tobacco lobby seem to have realised that they'd rather have their customer-base vaping than giving up... well perhaps booze is the next frontier?
The big challenge? Convincing people that AF beers are good drinks. Enter Adam from Sober Sauce... he's set a company that looks to provide mixed taster boxes of AF beer to those thinking of joining 'my' team. In this episode Adam explains that he's targeting Matt as much as he's targeting me. And if I heard correctly... he might just have convinced Matt that there's a non-alcoholic future for him!
Enjoy the episode... and as a bonus you can find below a video of an interview I recorded with Adrian Chiles at the weekend as part of Club Soda's HUGE festival of mindful drinking. Over four days speakers from around the globe shared their experiences, tips, and products to like-minded drinkers, and those looking to be a bit more moderate. It was great fun, and I'm hoping to get Adrian on our podcast soon...
Firstly an apology: we've been talking a LOT about pubs in recent episodes. They say; "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone" and since mid-March we've been unable to meet in the place where we've held court since we've known each other.
Apparently a quarter of us have felt lonely during the lockdown. Of course we've lacked interaction with colleagues, but socially... it's the pub I've missed the most.
So excuse us one further episode on pubs and then we PROMISE we're moving on... but last week, we went back to the pub where this podcast was born for the first time in months, to enjoy a drink, some food, and a chat with friends. And for an hour or so... everything was okay in the world.
One more thing before we get into the podcast... I've been asked a fair bit to recommend my favourite AF beers from 6 months of trial and error. So I've put together this top five, but over the next few episodes we'll be discussing the options, and tasting a few new lagers for good measure.
Enjoy the podcast.
Meet Fergus. He's the Head Brewer at Adnams in Suffolk, and he's the guest on this week's podcast.
A lot has happened since the last episode:
Boris has announced that pubs will reopen on 4th July
Matt & I gave 'drinking in the park' a go
And the results of the drinking survey are in.
Thanks to everyone who took time to fill in the survey - if you haven't had your say yet then you still can we'll leave the survey up while I delve a little deeper into the numbers. You can find it here
What a joy this episode is! We're sat in the beer garden of the Rose & Crown (our local) chatting to Chris the landlord. For much of the last couple of months that's been a pipe dream, but on the day London officially registered ZERO coronavirus deaths, and the front doors of the pub once again open (albeit for take-aways only) it seemed the right time to reflect on the past couple of months.
This podcast is an an exploration of what drinking means to us, and and in much the same way that you'd talk about churches quite a bit in a podcast about religion, we talk about pubs a lot.
So what's next for pubs? When can we expect to sit inside, order a pint of (non-alcoholic) beer and chat?
Chris reveals all... and Matt is very happy to be 'home'!
Vera Lynn was RIGHT!
Matt and I DID meet again in Tooting Common, and thanks to the magic of shotgun microphone technology we stood 2m apart, drank beer (non-alcoholic obvs!) and ate pork-scratchings. Just like the old days. Sort of.
On this episode we've also spoken to Laura Willoughby MBE - the founder of Club Soda the mindful drinking movement. It's one of the first support groups that was recommended to me when I started on this project, so it's great to hear her very personal story, and get the benefit of a decade of good advice.
As if that's not enough we're also launching our very first drinking survey - we're very excited about this, it's a chance for us to gauge YOUR attitudes to drink. As we enter the second trimester of this experiment we'd love to include you in the conversation. So take the survey, it won't take more than five minutes, and we'll announce the results in a future episode. Don't worry, it's completely anonymous.
Firstly... thanks for listening to the podcast! We're enjoying making it, and frankly Geoff would be back on the booze if it weren't for this!
We'd love to know what you drink, your attitudes to drinking, and how the current lockdown is affecting your usual consumption.
It's an anonymous survey - but we would like to know which country you're listening in. It's to our continued surprise that the show is being so well received around the globe. Again; thank you.
Click the button below to start the survey. It shouldn't take any more than five minutes to answer these questions, that's about as long as it usually takes to get served at the Rose & Crown. Aaaah... pubs!
Matt & Geoff
Wet & Dry.
Excitingly this COULD be the last of our remotely recorded podcasts! Sort of... we won't be meeting guests anytime soon, but as of 24 hours ago we CAN meet up in the park and record our chat at opposite ends of a park bench. Never have I been so excited about sitting on a park bench.
On this episode is Chris Maples, former UK MD of Spotify, a friend of Matt's and someone who's been off booze for two years. This is a great chance to find out what my future non-drinking self COULD look like.
It's a fascinating chat, and Chris is a BRILLIANT guest.
Enjoy... and remember to stay alert!
When we first sat down and started to plan this podcast there was a name we both wanted on the show. Bruce Daisley. Bruce wrote a book called The Joy of Work, presents a podcast called Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat and until recently was the European VP of Twitter. He's also a really good friend of Matt's.
I've seen Bruce give talks about workplace culture, he's incredibly engaging, so I probably shouldn't have been surprised when he delivered a compelling argument for why I should quit my year-long experiment.
But I'm not giving up yet...
... or am I?
We knew it was coming... this is the first of what will probably be a few episodes recorded separately.
It's weird isn't it. First I took away the alcohol from our friendship, then coronavirus took the pubs and now we can't even meet face to face.
On a serious note, it's a tough time, and there will be MANY people drinking more than usual. In the grand scheme of things this is unlikely to be any more than a footnote in the COVID-19 story, but for us it's become part of our year-long experiment.
The dynamic has shifted completely. I've suffered from anxiety in the past, and usually that's been accompanied by periods of heavier drinking. Matt on the other hand, doesn't drink at home, and with everyone confined to quarters... that policy is being tested to its limits.
So we've reached out to a friendly face: Chris - the landlord at The Rose & Crown - our local. He's joining us (via video call!) to chat about how pubs have dealt with having to close, his hopes for the MASSIVE party at the end of this, and why we'll all be ordering a spiced rum & tonic the next time we're stood at the bar.
Enjoy the episode, stay safe, and cheers!
We didn't release a podcast last week. Like everyone else we were adapting to the new world created by the spread of Covid-19. So much has changed, so quickly. It seems like only days since we were sat in a pub chatting to CAMRA about how great pubs are... and now we're not allowed inside them.
In this episode Matt and I try to make sense of this, and discuss some of the news stories you've been sharing with us.
Matt's also kind enough to bring up my recent professional success... one of my other projects (a cricket podcast for The Guardian called The Spin) won Sports Podcast of the Year at the Publishers Podcast Awards. Here I am with presenter Emma John picking up the award.
How times have changed.
Stay well, and wash your hands.
Geoff & Matt
Geoff turned 40 recently, and decided to have a dry year*. Matt is worried that this will make Geoff a really boring friend.