Worried about missing out on alfresco drinks because you’ve ditched the booze? The good news is there’s no need for any FOMO … you can still join in and enjoy any occasion this summer. This blog post gives you the low-down on alcohol-free drinks and lists some of the best booze-free versions on the market.
Summer has finally arrived, and the sunshine is making a welcome appearance. Let’s raise an alcohol-free glass to picnics, barbecues and socialising with friends, especially once lockdown restrictions ease further.
Just because you’ve given up booze doesn’t mean you have to skip the fun times. The alcohol-free market is booming and is expected to rise by 34% by 2024. There’s a new generation of teetotallers who still want to party but don’t want the damaging health effects that alcohol brings with it. Attitudes are rapidly shifting, and with new studies showing that even small amounts of alcohol can harm the brain, it’s no wonder that more and more people are opting to drink alcohol-free alternatives.
Before we go any further, it’s important to point out that it’s advised to steer clear of alcohol-free beers and drinks if you’re a recovering alcoholic or feel they may trigger you. Some varieties still contain very low traces of alcohol (see below for UK specifications) and therefore not advised for those who think they may be provoked back towards drinking.
What’s the difference between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks?
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Alcoholic drinks contain alcohol, and non-alcoholic drinks don’t. Well, yes and no. According to Drinkaware UK, there are 4 categories used on drinks labels :
- Alcohol-free beer = no more than 0.05% ABV
- De-alcoholised beer = no more than 0.5% ABV
- Low-alcohol beer = no more than 1.2% ABV
- Alcoholic beer = contains more than 1.2% ABV
If you don’t drink, you need to search for alcohol-free or de-alcoholised versions. Anything above 0.5% should really be avoided.
Are alcohol-free drinks more expensive?
There are mixed responses to this question. Some alcohol-free alternatives can be pricey, indeed the same cost as their alcoholic equivalents. However, you can also buy decent alcohol-free wines at a fraction of the cost of an alcoholic bottle. Take Sainsbury’s own sparkling wine. It comes in at just under £3 a bottle, whereas a bottle of Prosecco will set you back anything from £7 upwards.
The reasoning behind non-alcoholic beers and spirits being more expensive boils down to costs of production remaining the same if not slightly higher. It’s a complex process that takes years to get right. They’re often made with quality ingredients by artisan brands who put their life and soul into the creation.
My best advice is to shop around and decide for yourself which you think are value for money.
Which are the best alcohol-free drinks for summer?
Whatever your favourite tipple, there’s bound to be an alcohol-free version available. Here’s a small selection of some of the best beers, ciders, wines and kombuchas.
Alcohol-free beers and ciders
Alcohol-free beers have come a long way from the bog-standard Kaliber. No more sipping on syrupy sweet water. Instead, the recent versions taste more like their traditional alcoholic counterparts. And it’s not just lager. There’s a range of alcohol-free beers now available, from pale ales and wheat beers to dark stouts. In addition, there’s a myriad of craft breweries all brewing AF. And recently, bigger breweries such as Heinekin, Guinness and Budweiser have jumped on the wagon.
If you’re gluten-free as well as alcohol-free, it can be tricky to find a beer. But Free Damm has ensured their alcohol-free beer is less than 20ppm gluten, which means it can be labelled as gluten-free. Heineken also classifies their alcohol-free beer as under 20ppm. However, all non-alcoholic beers do contain barley or malt, so if you are diagnosed with celiac disease, it’s always best to avoid all of them.
Damm is best known for their alcoholic lager “Estrella”, and they launched this AF version in 2018. As their website suggests, Free Damm has a “clean, intense aroma…a delicate taste…with just the right amount of bitterness.” A refreshing AF beer for a summer’s day.
If you enjoy a more intense flavour to your beer, then DropBear offers a great range. Their Bonfire Stout is also suitable for vegans as, unlike other AF stouts, it doesn’t contain lactose.
It’s a heavy indulgent alcohol-free beer with a roasted coffee and smoked malt flavour, but despite that, it only contains 69 calories per bottle.
Channel 4’s Sunday Morning Brunch featured this cider on their show, and for good reason. Firstly, it comes with a unicorn on the bottle, what’s not to like! But better than that, it has a fantastic zingy taste. Crisp and dry, it gets nothing but rave reviews. Definitely one to try on a hot summer’s day. It’s also gluten-free and vegan.
If you like a cider with fruit apple flavours, you’ll enjoy Weston’s version of alcohol-free cider. They mature their apples in old oak vats before pressing. As a result, it has a medium to sweet taste with no added artificial sweeteners, colours or flavourings. At only 81calories per bottle, it’s the perfect drink to unwind with.
Alcohol-free sparkling wine
Want to enjoy a glass of fizz without the fuzzy head? There are plenty of sparkling and non-sparkling alcohol-free wines on the market. The whites and rose tend to be the best. Reds are often still too sweet, in my opinion. These three sparkly superstars get the seal of approval and make a great alcohol-free alternative when you fancy a glass of bubbles.
At a fraction of the price of a bottle of Prosecco, this sparkling wine is a fantastic alternative. It has plenty of fizz, and the bubbles explode on your tongue like champagne. Unlike some alcohol-free wines, it’s not too sweet but has a crisp and sharp taste with floral and apple notes. Serve chilled and enjoy.
If you prefer a rose, Freixenet offers a gorgeous sparkling AF rose. With hints of raspberries and strawberries, it’s a touch of summer sunshine in a glass. There’s a touch of acidity that tingles in the mouth as the bubbles fizz on the tongue. Freixenet’s been working on their alcohol-free wines since 2011, and they perfected their rose in 2016. It’s well worth a try.
Organic, vegan, halal and alcohol-free, this company has been leading the shift towards alcohol-free drinking. They offer a white and a rose, and both have a low sugar content – almost half the sugar content of other alcohol-free sparkling wines. It’s made from the same grapes as champagne and has a light, crisp and dry finish.
Alternative alcohol-free drinks
If you’d rather stay clear from any form of alcoholic-free drinks that try to imitate actual alcohol, this is the section for you. There are many other options out there that don’t fit into the sickly sweet fruit juices, carbonated drinks, or squashes often used for soft drinks. Try one of these alternatives for a grown-up drink without the booze.
Made from fermented tea, kombucha is fast becoming one of the most popular soft drinks for adults. It contains less sugar than regular soft drinks, and the fermentation process brings added health benefits. It has a slight fizz, a sour-ish taste, and each brand has a unique flavour profile.
Genie Kombucha, an ethical and sustainable UK company, stocks various flavours, including citrus, apple and ginger.
If you’d rather a non-flavoured drink, try Real Kombucha. Their drinks are hand-crafted in the Chiltern Hills and are served in many of the UK’s Michelin-starred restaurants. All you taste is pure fermented tea made from high-end, loose-leaf teas, handpicked from small tea gardens in China and India. With fabulous reviews from The Times, The Guardian, and the BBC, amongst others, this is definitely one to try.
Gimber has packed a punch in the alcohol-free world as a “concentrate with the best organic ginger, lemon, herbs and spices to make your tastebuds tango.” Add a drop of this to sparkling water for a refreshing summer drink. Or keep it for those colder nights for a warming ginger toddy.
That’s a small selection of alcohol-free drinks and alternatives available. There are many more that are easily found by searching one of the alcohol-free drinks businesses online. If you have a favourite AF tipple that I haven’t mentioned, please drop me a line via email or on LinkedIn so I can try it out for myself.
Are non-alcoholic drinks bad for you?
It’s important to note that if you suffer from any liver disease or are pregnant, it’s still advisable to avoid drinks that contain traces of alcohol. Even alcohol-free drinks still contain minute amounts of alcohol. In addition, there are still age-related restrictions on alcohol-free drinks, meaning you shouldn’t serve them to anybody under the age of 18.
They can often also contain high sugar levels, so little rather than often would be my advice for anyone enjoying alcohol-free drinks.
Want to break free from alcohol?
If you’re struggling with problems related to alcohol, I offer a 12 week 1:1 coaching programme to help you overcome any obstacles holding you back and map a new way forward. After 12 weeks, you’ll have activated a new level of self-belief, using your new superpower to make empowered choices feeling alive, excited and free.
Or, if you would like to have a chat about bespoke 1:1 time, this is also possible. So book a call and start your journey towards a happier and healthier you.