ARE YOU SOBER CURIOUS?
Whatever the reason, 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.
Made here in marvellous Melbourne, these are not mere soft drinks but carefully crafted non-alcoholic lightly sparkling beverages for the discerning palate. This non-carbonated infusion brings to mind those almost salty wines and sherries that are a perfect umami-laden aperitif. Roasted peppers, tomatoes, basil, celery seed, coriander seed and the right amount of salt makes this zero percent beverage a real winner.
Goes well with - Give us a few plump olives, some cured meat and a wedge of hard cheese and we’re happy campers.
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.
Goes well with - a classic French Camembert such as Le Conquérant Camembert
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.
Goes well with - 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.
Goes well with - a rich creamy blue cheese such as Roquefort, Bleu d'Auvergne
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.
Goes well with - L'Amuse Signature Gouda
Many of the alcohol-free options are sparkling which tend to fare better which is probably something to do with carbonation's influence on the mouthfeel. Some brands are sweeter than others but give a few a try and see which you like best.
Goes well with - Rich, white mould cheeses such as Brillat Savarin or Le Dauphin Double Crème
Here's the bad news - it's generally 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 really worked. 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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