CHICAGO - Have you heard about "Dry January"?
More and more people are doing it every year — giving up alcohol for the month to get a healthy start to the new year.
And now, an increasing number of Chicago businesses and breweries are catering to that crowd with a surprising mix of liquors, wine and beer — all made without booze.
When you’re a brewery named Temperance, a beer minus the booze only makes sense.
"Yes, it was the beer we were made to make!" said Temperance owner Josh Gilbert.
Gilbert said he noticed a sharp dropoff in business a year ago, when many of his customers decided to take part in Dry January. So this year, the Evanston brewery has a new beer on tap for the month, called "Near Tears." And it checks in with an alcohol level of just 0.3%.
"And they’re all enjoying it," Gilbert said. "We’re proud of the fact it has a little more body than you might expect, a little more flavor than you might expect in a non-alcohol beer. And people are enjoying that."
Temperance is one of several Chicago area craft breweries rolling out low or no-alcohol beers this month — beers that are notoriously difficult to make well.
"We use all the normal grain and hops," Gilbert explained. "We just soak the grains in much colder water for about two hours. And then we use a special yeast that is designed for low and no alcohol beers."
But it’s not just beer that’s going booze-less. Quenjana Adams showed us some of the dozens of non-alcoholic wines that are featured in her new West Town pop-up store, called Prazbar.
"People are really surprised to see non-alcoholic Merlot, non-alcoholic champagne, non-alcoholic Riesling and all of that," Adams said. "So it’s a true exploration for everybody."
The store opened just a week ago and will continue until March. And already, Adams is having trouble keeping enough non-alcoholic wine in stock.
"There were two customers this past week who are doing Dry January who say they were just stuck at beer," Adams said. "So when they walked by and saw there was a wine shop, they were surprised and came in."
Adams said if she has enough success with the pop-up store, she may try to open the first non-alcoholic wine bar in the city year-round.
"And hopefully one day become one of the first non-alcoholic wine bars, just tailored to the category of wine."