Australians have a reputation for loving booze. But according to a recent DrinkWise study, more of us are saying no to alcoholic drinks.
In 2017, 20 per cent of Australians abstained from drinking alcohol, marking an increase of nine per cent from the previous decade.
There are plenty of reasons not to drink. You might not like the taste, be on a health kick, are pregnant or breastfeeding, have a health condition that’s worsened by alcohol intake, or are on medication that negatively interacts with booze.
Drinking alcohol may also go against your belief system. Given that just over two million people living in Australia have a religion other than Christianity, which permits alcohol consumption, it’s clear not that everyone in diverse Australia wants to ‘cheers’ with a glass of booze in-hand.
So what do you drink when you can’t consume alcohol and don’t just want to sip on water, soft drinks or juice all night long? Here are a few options.
“Alcohol-free drinks have zero alcohol and non-alcoholic can have up to half a per cent of alcohol which is pretty negligible."
Non-alcoholic beer and wine
Trevor Schofield runs Alcofree, an Australian online stockist that sells non-alcoholic and alcohol-free beverages to the general public, restaurants and bars.
“Alcohol-free drinks have zero alcohol and non-alcoholic can have up to half a per cent of alcohol which is pretty negligible,” explains Schofield.
He explains that non-alcoholic (NA) wines are produced in the same way that regular wine is created. “Although it may not be matured as long, so the alcohol content doesn’t go too high. But it still goes through the fermentation process, but then it goes through an additional process to remove the alcohol from the wine.”
NA or alcohol-free wines come in the same range of varietals as we’re used to (sparkling wine, Tempranillo, merlot, shiraz, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and more). But the good news is because the alcohol has been removed, they are lower in total calories than alcoholic wines.
The NA beers (IPAs, lagers and ales) sold online are made by a range of big international brands including Becks, Asahi and Heineken, as well as other European names. “These beers are just as hoppy and just as bitter as the equivalent alcoholic version. Most people are hard-pressed to tell the difference between the two types beers of same brand because the bubbles in both have the same mouth-feel.”
Distilled non-alcoholic spirits
Alcofree also sells NA spirits like whiskey, rum and vermouth.
Schofield says although they don’t have the same burn as their alcoholic varieties, they boast a similar taste and scent, and blend well with mixers.
The NA distilled spirit launched in the UK three years ago, is now available in some bottle shops, restaurants and bars across Australia.
There’s two flavours of Seedlip and neither have any additives or sweeteners: Garden 109 offering a herbaceous taste of peas, hay, spearmint, rosemary and thyme; and Spice 94 with wood, spice and citrus flavours, made with all spice, cardamom, oak, lemon, grapefruit, cascarilla.
Brunswick Aces is a new brand of NA Australian botanical spirits inspired by gin sold online and at select Victorian establishments.
Hand-blended and bottled in Brunswick, Melbourne, the botanical spirits are made without alcohol, have a lower sugar content than alcoholic gin and contain only one per cent of preservatives.
The company’s marketing director, Stephen Lawrence says the idea was to provide people with an alcohol-free option that has the “interesting, complex, adult flavours of a spirit”.
“The taste is essentially what you get with gin,” says Lawrence. “But instead of alcohol, it’s deeply flavoured with botanicals… and there’s a beautiful aroma on the nose.”
The product is currently available in two flavours: Spades, boasting notes of lime, pink grapefruit, cardamom, parsley, clove, lemon myrtle, coriander and a pinch of salt; and Hearts offering juniper, wattleseed, cassia, clove, star anise, ginger, sage and pink grapefruit.
Lawrence tells SBS that more varieties are on their way. The company is also planning to expand its list of stockists interstate and overseas soon.