Make Mine Alco-Free: Alcoholic-free drinks
With the non-alcoholic market blowing up, now is a better time than ever to get drinking without getting drunk
"Why would anyone want to drink an alcoholic drink without any alcohol?" I hear some cheeky shit at the back yell. The answer is: because after two half-pints of Coke on a night out, you’ve had your sugar intake for about a week, and may fancy ingesting something other than fizzy liquid glucose. For those who thirst for alcoholic drinks without the alcohol, here are some of the best alcohol-free options out there for those wanting something a little bit different.
Alco-free beer is currently at the top of the non-drinker’s food chain, with plenty of guzzleable goodness available in most mainstream supermarchés. Probably the most recognisable beer is Heineken’s 0.0% lager, which, unsurprisingly considering its zero-alcohol content, is pretty bland, reflected in its cheap price.
Brewdog are pretty good at coming up with batshit beer titles (see Albino Squid Assassin and Dead Pony Club for example), and the aptly-named Nanny State is up there with the best of them, and with a great story behind the beer too. After alcohol regulators criticised the company’s tendency to release hella-high ABV drinks, Brewdog responded by bringing out Nanny State, a 0.5% IPA, as a piece of high-level shithousery. What’s better is that it's actually a bangin’ IPA alternative, and is available almost everywhere now too. Another slurp of Brewdog goodness is Punk AF, a non-alcoholic version of the standard Punk IPA, and a 0.5% Raspberry Blitz, a sour beer that’s… well, just that.
If you can get hold of it, Big Drop Brewing Co.’s stout is almost as good as the real thing – with chocolatey, coffee-ish hits of smoothness, like a creamy, boozy milkshake with neither the booze nor the milk. Others to note are the 0.5% version of Adnams’ Ghost Ship – made by simply filtering the alcohol out of the regular batch – and Erdinger’s Alkoholfrei, a go-to for those craving a wheat beer.
Alcohol-free wine may not be as commercially big as beer, but there are still some brands worth having a glass of. Eisberg Wine has a decent range, with a crisp Sauvignon, bitter-sweet Chardonnay, floral Rosé, ruby rich Cabernet Sauvignon and a couple of sparkling bottles too. A warning to all veggies though, these guys aren’t for you – they contain traces of fish (authentically replicating the filtering process of many regular wines by the way), which is a bit of a bummer. On the note of fizzy piss though, Nosecco – about as subtle as a fire alarm with that name – is capable of filling the gap for whatever inkling you may have for a tall, ice cold glass of Prosecco.
The most popular cider brand in the alco-free world is Kopparberg mixed fruit cider, and it has now hit most supermarket shelves. Think full-fat sugary fruit abomination minus the quality of getting you slightly tipsy, and you’ve hit the nail on the head. With students and Strongbow Dark Fruits being a fairly common stereotype, this is the closest alco-avoiders can get to that level of purple sickly-sweetness.
The prices ramp up as we move onto spirits, but at least that’s reflective of regular, alcohol-included drinks, right? The high-hailed big daddy of the spirit market currently is Seedlip, most notably their Grove 42, a floral gin alternative that combines citrus and spice into something nice. But at either £12.99 or (*gulp*) £26.99 a bottle, you may wish to stock up on M&S low-alcohol gin and tonic can combos, or Teetotal’s G+T instead if you fancy the gin taste without the bitter aftertaste of Seedlip’s price.