Monday, 6 October 2014

Sober for October: 3 Alcohol Free Alternatives

Hands up who’s going Sober for October?

Well, the first weekend has passed – phew – and if you resisted those 5 o’clock gins on Friday after work, and you’re still smugly tee-total, then well done! You’re a bigger person than I am. Let’s not get cocky though, there’s still many more days left in the month. So to make sure that the Berocca stays firmly in the drawer and not a drop passes your lips, I have a few alcohol-free alternatives for you. 

Although I’m not partaking in this fundraiser for Macmillan, I’m not adverse to a mocktail, and I will happily settle for a soft drink, but an alcohol-free alcohol-styled beverage? This is new territory for me. In my head, if I’m not going to drink, I’ll go for something that’s completely different; a fiery ginger beer (my go-to), juice, or maybe just a hot drink (thankfully, most pubs serve a decent cup of coffee now).

In my cynicism, 0% booze screams sugar and substitution, and I’d never think to part with my pennies for it, but for the purposes of ‘Sober for October’, I’ve given three a go. These are by no means the 'Top 3 alcohol-free alternatives'; they’re just a selection of the readily available drinks which you can purchase in your local supermarket.

Kopparberg Alcohol Free Pear Cider

We’re all familiar with Kopparberg aren’t we? Well, according to the Swedish producers, this is the first alcohol-free pear cider; delivering the same great taste just without the alcohol. The appearance of the bottle is so similar to the regular version, you’d be forgiven for picking this up when you were actually after the boozy one instead; and as for its contents, they’re very close too.

Kopparberg is a fiendishly fruity sweet cider, and I think that the alcohol in the original offsets some of that sweetness. Without that percentage, it’s just like Pear Drops in fizzy drink form; if you’re a fruit cider fan and are missing the taste, then I’m sure you’ll love this. For me, one’s enough.

You can pick up a bottle of Kopparberg Alcohol Free Pear Cider (500ml) from Sainsbury’s for £1.10. Tesco and Morrissons also stock it for £1.29, and there’s a Kopparberg Alcohol Free Mixed Fruit Cider at all these places too.

Eisberg Alcohol Free Wine – Riesling Italico

Sure, I’ve heard of low alcohol wine, but I’ve never even considered an alcohol free version. “Made from quality wine with the alcohol removed.” This sounded interesting.

Eisberg tell us that their German grapes are specially selected from specific vineyards due to their ability to maintain the true taste of the grape variety after the alcohol has been removed. Using some sort of wizardry, or the anti-Jesus (turning wine into water), the result is a low calorie, booze free drink that tries to encapsulate as much of the original character and flavours of the wine as possible.

There are a number of other wines available – Rosé, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay – but I opted for the ‘off-dry’ Riesling Italico. “A fresh, aromatic non-alcoholic white, with honeyed aromas of rosy apples, zesty lemons and juicy melons”... Sounded much better than the others on the shelf, which were all branded ‘sweet’.

The wine has an odd grassy petrol-like aroma, but thankfully this isn’t translated into the taste. It does what it say on the tin; I can get an apple-y tang, a citrus hit and a tropical melon flavour, but this is definitely not wine, or maybe just not the kind of wine I like to drink. I’d be interested to know what Eisberg’s other varieties are like.

You can pick up Eisberg Riesling (75cl) for £3.69 at Waitrose. All the other major supermarkets seem to stock the Eisberg range too, for a similar price.

Soft Brew – Lemon

“A non-alcoholic drink born in a brewery.” Soft Brew doesn’t brand itself as an alcohol free beer – you’ll find it amongst the adult fizzy drinks and mixers, not in the booze aisle – it’s a British soft drink for beer lovers.

Containing no additives or preservatives, fruit has been gently mixed with hops and malt to make an intriguing, entirely natural product. Available in three different flavours – lemon, lime & elderflower and apple (which has won 2 Great Taste Gold awards) – I plumped for the lemon.

Unscrewing the cap you get a waft of beer, and on the initial pour it even has a bit of a head. There’s a definite lemon sherbet aroma with subtle hops on the nose, then in the taste it has a shandy-like, lager and lime kind of vibe going on. It’s sparkling, but not overly so, citrusy and somewhat tropical (a beery Lilt my chap said), and certainly refreshing. Not being mega sweet, I could easily see myself drinking more than one of these.

The full range of Soft Brew (275ml) can be picked up from Sainsbury’s for £1.20.

I think the moral of this story is: if you don’t go in expecting them to taste like your fave tipples, alcohol-free ain’t that bad. So, for whatever reason you’re going sober, there are plenty of alternatives out there keep you entertained; stay strong and don’t fall off the wagon!

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