Whatever the reason behind your dry July, there’s no denying the growing awareness of booze-free drink options beyond the sweet mocktail.
Having tried many, many variations of alcohol-free beer, wine and spirits what you’ll notice most is the radically different mouth-feel. They just don't have the same weight in the mouth that alcoholic versions do - you can't alter basic chemistry. That said, here are some tried and true recommendations with a cheese pairing to enjoy.
Sobah Pepperberry IPA
Thanks to the hoppy IPA base and the spice of Australian Native pepperberries, this IPA has great depth of flavour. Apparently it is rich in antioxidants and vegan friendly but what really counts is that it's a great sub in that actually tastes like craft beer.
Cheese match – a classic French brie such as Rouzaire Fougerus
Brunswick Aces Spades Sapiir
Similar to a London Dry gin, this is infused with a range of botanicals including green cardamom, lemon myrtle and Tasmanian pepperberry.
Make an old school G&T with Fever-Tree tonic and some fresh citrus peel from the backyard pots. A large ice cube in fancy glass and things are looking better already.
Cheese match – double down on the fragrant Mediterranean vibes with some Fleur du Maquis
This stout brings together all the delightful roasty, toasty flavours of malt with a backbone of bitter chocolate/coffee. As seems to be the case with alcohol-free beer, the head dissipates quickly but don't worry there is plenty of flavour to keep you entertained.
Cheese match – a rich creamy blue cheese such as Bleu d'Auvergne
Lyre’s American Malt
Whiskey is great, there's no denying that and this is a fair approximation of it. The vanilla and herbal notes provide a welcome addition to winter drinking. Mixed with a nice dry ginger ale, it’s easy drinking or make a Mint Julep if you're feeling particularly fancy.
Cheese match – L'Amuse Signature Gouda
Here's the bad news - it's a no. Wine needs some acidity and most de-alcoholised wines are too soft, and occasionally even too sweet. Tannins not only give wine bitterness but also body. Of the handful tried none worked.
Many of the alcohol-free options are sparkling and that's probably something to do with carbonation's influence on the mouthfeel.
If you do find a good wine, let us know. We'd love to add it to our recommendations.
It's good to know that alcohol need no longer be a default position.
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