It’s February, the festive season is well and truly over, and life begins to settle back into some sort of routine. But it’s also a time when our New Year’s resolutions may begin to fall by the wayside, and our motivation can take a bit of a slump. If you’ve done Dry January, it can be tempting to reward yourself with a bit of a blowout, and old habits can come flooding back. But perhaps we could look at Dry January as a step towards changing our long term relationship with alcohol. Rather than opening the floodgates and reviving old drinking habits, why not try some of these low and alcohol-free alternatives, and use them to keep up that Dry January motivation. Whether you’re aiming to stay dry, or taking a more mindful approach to drinking, we’ve got some great suggestions for you.
Non-alcoholic and lower alcohol beers
Big Drop Stout (0.5%)
Big Drop’s Stout is a real game changer when it comes to low alcohol beer. They’ve even snapped up the Silver medal in the World Beer Awards in the Stout and Porter category, competing against full-strength counterparts. There is the residual sweetness one would expect from a milk stout, with some cacao nib and vanilla too. Roasted malts provide a rich bitter coffee note to this medium-bodied pour. This is available from good bottle shops, and online from Dry Drinker where you will get a special 5% Club Soda discount using the code CLUBSODAVIP at checkout.
Heineken 0.0 (0.05%)
Heineken launched their first non alcoholic beer in Europe in 2017, and we’ve been pretty impressed. The flavour is authentic, and the branding fits the other beers in their range, so it doesn’t feel like you’re being treated differently when choosing not to drink. You have a little light sweet fruit note from the malt, and a little biscuit too. But that classic grassy flavour you expect when drinking a lager is still present, this is very nicely balanced. And it’s easy to pick up, you can grab this from your local Tesco, and several other supermarkets. And at just 69 calories per bottle, you don’t have to worry about derailing any diet plans.
Black Isle Goldfinch (Lower ABV 3.5%)
The goal with a session IPA is to take all those big hops flavours that you would expect from a full strength IPA (usually sitting around 6-7.5%) and pack it into a beer of a much lower strength. Black Isle Goldfinch is a great example of this. It weighs in at just 3.5%, is amber in colour with a creamy head and a malty tangerine aroma. Strong malt flavours with nicely balanced bitterness, and some floral and citrus notes. And if that’s not enough, it’s also gluten free, so a great choice for any celiacs who are looking for some flavoursome beer! Available direct from the brewery.
Non-alcoholic and lower alcohol wines
Win 12 (0.2%)
This Spanish Tempranillo hails from the Castile-Leon region. This has been aged in oak for 12 months, which helps to give some of those rich, woody aromas. You’ve also got ripe red fruit notes, some herbaceous notes, and a little spice from the oak. This is of medium intensity, and the tanin is nicely balanced with a good acidity. More of those jammy fruit flavours on the taste, this really is a very well-rounded red. One of the best non alcoholic wines we’ve found! Get it online from the Alcohol-Free Shop.
Morouj Chardonnay (0.0%)
It can be difficult to find that crisp, dry finish on non alcoholic wines, but that maturity of flavour is definitely achieved in Morouj Chardonnay. A good balance of sweetness and acidity, with some soft round hints of vanilla. This is one to remind you of warmer weather, it pairs very nicely with white meat and light fish dishes, but is also perfect for those times when you want to relax with a glass of something refreshing after a long day. Available online from DryDrinker (don’t forget CLUBSODAVIP at the checkout for 5% off!).
Rude Mechanicals – Suck It And See (Lower ABV 8%)
This comes from a group of rogue winemakers who collaborate to make some fantastic wines under the Rude Mechanicals label, as well as making wine under their own individual names. This cheeky Frizzante is a blend of two grapes, Gewurztraminer and Frontignac. This is truly a treat, there are soft tropical flavours of lychee, pineapple and mango, as well as a little lime juice acidity and a very subtle hint of honey. This is lightly sparkling, perfect for toasting a special occasion. It’s on the sweeter end of the scale, we love opening a bottle to share over some aromatic Thai food. You can find it online at Chester Beer & Wine.
Mixers and other ideas
London Essence Co
The range of tonics and sodas from London Essence Co are absolutely fantastic, both for mixing and as stand alone botanical drinks. The tonics are all delicate and mature in flavour, and are also low in calories. If you do want to mix them with a little gin or vermouth this works perfectly too, check out their ‘Classic Serves’ for inspiration. Available in many supermarkets, including Tesco.
Holy Lama Spice Drops
These Spice Drops are fantastic for adding a depth of flavour to hot or cold drinks, and you can even use them in your cooking as well. One of our favourites is the cinnamon, which you could use to make spiced tea. You can add this to a smoothie, or use it in your baking too. The spices are cold pressed and then passed through an extraction vessel. The whole process results in a highly concentrated oil, so you only need 1-2 drops to add a real punch of intense flavour. They’re also perfect for jazzing up your morning coffee, we love starting the day with these!
Vinegar based drinks are making a huge impact on the alcohol free market, and it’s easy to see why. Nonsuch Shrubs use a blend of fruit juices, lightly sparkling water and cyder vinegar to create a modern take on the ancient art of drinking vinegars. We love the Sour Cherry & Mint, the flavour here is intense, with the tartness of the cherry and a zing of refreshing mint. The acidity of the vinegar means that you want to take your time to enjoy this, it’s a real slow-supping treat. Available online at Borough Wines.
Ok, so this one isn’t a drink, but it’s a product we’ve really enjoyed using over the last couple of months. The T2 Jug-a-lot makes it easy to create delicious iced tea. You can add your favourite fruit to your brew as well, so you can get really creative with mixing different flavours together. Perfect for adding a sense of occasion when you’ve got a friend popping round for a cuppa.
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