If you’ve been curious about all this chatter around non-alcoholic wine, beer and spirits, there’s no time like right now to start exploring the vast selection of alcohol-free drinks available to Aussies everywhere. According to research published by DrinkWise in 2017, the number of Australians choosing to go alcohol-free has increased by 11% since 2007. That's a lot of off-the-wagon Aussies choosing to ditch the booze.
The drinking culture is in decline in Australia
A 2018 U.S. report from Berenberg Research found that drinking has seriously declined in the same age group (teens to early 20s) over generations. Gen Z is drinking over 20% less than Millennials, who in turn drank less than Baby Boomers and Gen Xers.
So the popularity of drinking is taking a slow and steady nose-dive...but why?
According to research, young people can’t afford the downtime that comes with being hungover, they can’t afford the rising prices of getting drunk (drinks, food, an uber home, etc.), and they can’t afford to risk their reputations because their drunken antics can potentially be uploaded to social media in an instant.
The truth is, alcohol is no longer a prerequisite for being cool. Girls who used to go out every weekend and get plastered on shots and cocktails are now sipping mocktails at the newest alcohol-free bar. Guys who would forgo the gym for a huge night on the town are now getting up early to mountain bike on the weekend and opting for non-alcoholic beer for the wellbeing benefits.
Getting well vs getting wasted
Instead of getting wasted, lots of people have chosen to glow up. The global health and wellness industry has blown up to the tune of $4.2 trillion, and plenty of people are choosing acai bowls and collagen coffee over a life filled with late nights and bar fights. I founded Nourished Life in 2012 (the toxin-free health & beauty) and for me Sans Drinks is the next step in my wellness journey.
Gone are the days of worshipping sloppy socialites. Some of the most admired influencers right now are business titans and fitness mavens, and they are encouraging a whole host of people to choose personal growth over partying.
There’s also a whole host of celebrities coming forward and talking about all the benefits of getting sober. The stereotype that sobriety is lame is no longer cool - now it’s impressive and something to be admired.
The benefits of drinking non-alcoholic drinks
If you want to join the movement, the great news is that there are about to be more non-alcoholic wine, beer and spirits on the market than ever before. Bon Appétit estimates that the demand for alcohol-free beverages could grow by almost a third in just the next three years. However, there’s still the odd time the sober curious get asked, “what’s the point of having a non-alcoholic drink?”
Besides tasting delicious and giving you something to do with your hands on a night out, there are a few more compelling reasons to ditch the booze:
- Non-alcoholic drinks, especially wine, are typically lower in calories due to the alcohol being removed. For example, the Natureo Rose contains half the calories as regular white wine and the Seedlip range of non-alcoholic distilled spirits contain no calories and no sugar.
- Non-alcoholic drinks will still mellow you out and make you happy, but with zero bad side effects. One study which we discuss in our article Alcohol-Free Beer: Everything You Need to Know explains how dopamine is still released when we taste something that reminds us of alcohol, like non-alcoholic beer, even when the ABV is absent.
- The cost of a night out in Australia isn’t cheap. Alcohol-free drink options will be a little easier on the wallet (depending on what you decide to drink and where). Keep in mind you’ll also save on drinking-related costs like cabs home, dry cleaning that white dress you stained with red wine and the late-night alcohol-fueled stop off to devour kebabs!
What are non-alcoholic spirits?
Alcohol-free spirits can range from complex distilled botanicals (similar to gin) to Apéritifs and malts that mimic classics drinks.
Every company uses different distilling methods and botanicals to make its beverages unique. In saying this, much the same equipment and processes match what you’d see in a standard distillery. As a result, the final product is often just as complex as a spirit to create. Seedlip, the world's first non-alcoholic distilled spirit uses different neutral grain spirits (NGSs) with their botanicals. Other brands might extract the essences on their own without the use of NGS, or create flavour through steam distillation. The byproduct is like an essential oil, so you still get the complex flavour, unique character and thicker mouthfeel, but zero proof.
Here's our pick of the best Australian alternatives to spirits
Lyre's is one of the most awarded non-alcoholic spirits company worldwide. Their range of drinks is super expansive - they've got a spirit alternative for every occasion.
Dry London Spirit, American Malt, White Cane Spirit and Coffee Originale are just a few of the delicious alcohol-free drinks on offer. Mixing mocktails and other non-alcoholic concoctions has never been so exciting! As they say, their products “look, taste, smell and sashay around your palate just like the original.”
The real kicker? Lyre's has only been in operation since 2019! They've taken the world by storm in such a short span of time. It is truly inspirational and just goes to show that going alcohol free is the next big thing.
Try out: the Lyre’s Espresso Martini Mocktail
Ideal for creating your favourite gin mocktails, ALTD Spirits is a range of sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan-friendly, alcohol-free, botanical spirits that don’t try to copy gin - they provide an alternative experience. The benefits when compared with mainstream alcoholic spirits are compelling enough to turn even the most dedicated spirit drinkers to an alcohol-free lifestyle.
ALTD's Silver Princess alt-spirit holds notes of strawberry gum, honey myrtle, desert lime, cherry wood, cinnamon myrtle and pink peppercorn. When paired with 20g plum jam, a few river mint leaves, soda water and ice you'll be greeted with a delicious twist on a classic Mojito that's fit for royalty.
Monday Distillery drinks are a little different to the spirits mentioned above. Monday pre-mix their drinks to make things a little more convenient for those of us who don't have time, or simply can't wait to get stuck into a crisp, refreshing alt-spirit beverage.
Monday offer both a classic G&T and an Exotic Spice G&T each with their own unique flavour profile. They also make a range of rum mocktails and whiskey mocktails and their entire range is sugar-free, all natural and preservative free.
Like Monday Distillery, Altina offers a range of range of pre-mixed mocktails with no added sugar and are super low in calories when compared with classic cocktails. If you're trying to make health-conscious decisions when it comes to your bevvies, but you still enjoy a refreshingly fruity cocktail, Altina drinks should seriously be on your radar.
All Altina alcohol-free cocktails are made and flavoured with native Australian ingredients like organic hibiscus, forestberry and wattleseed. They each provide an interesting experience for adventurous drinkers to reach out and taste.
What is non-alcoholic or dealcoholised beer?
Non-alcoholic beer or dealcoholised beer is beer that has had the alcohol removed or it has been brewed in a way to stop the fermentation process before the beer exceeds 0.5% Alcohol By Volume.
How is non-alcoholic beer made?
There are two key, unique ways that non-alcoholic beer is made. The first method is commonly used to make alcohol-free craft beer because it doesn't involve any extra equipment. The fermentation process is simply halted by using a special yeast in order to prevent alcohol from forming.
The second method is a dealcoholisation which involves removing the alcohol from a fully brewed beer. This can be distilled or filtered. Heineken Zero is an example of a dealcoholised beer.
Here are a few of Australia's most popular alcohol-free beers.
Carlton Zero provides beer lovers the opportunity to enjoy a crisp, refreshing drop that taste just like the original Australian icon. As well as being free of alcohol, Carlton Zero has ten times less sugar than soft drinks. Having received a flood of 5 star reviews across various non-alcoholic drinks platforms since its launch, Carlton Zero has made itself right at home in fridges and pubs everywhere.
UpFlow are experts in craft brewing and have created a full range of non-alcoholic beers including a non-alcoholic IPA, Pale Ale, Lager and Stout. Their innovative brewing methods, all natural ingredients (pure malt, yeast, hops and water) and technical knowledge of the beer making process and machinery really shine through in their brews.
What is non-alcoholic wine?
Non-alcoholic wine is not simply "grape juice". Non-alcoholic wine goes through much the same winemaking process as regular wine. The difference is that the alcohol afterwards. From shiraz to Sparkling Wine there is an extensive range of non-alcoholic wines available at every price point.
Here are some popular Australian made non-alcoholic wines
Named International Winemaker of the Year four years running, the McGuigan Zero range of non-alcoholic wines is a true testament to their winemaking expertise. In June 2020, this innovative range was launched and has quickly become a best seller.
The Lindeman's alcohol-free range includes a Semillon Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon both are very close in character to their alcoholic counterparts and lower in calories.
Newblood use a triple distillation process to remove the alcohol from their which helps keep the distinct flavour of their classic Chardonnay and Shiraz. They also leave their grapes to ripen just a little more than they typically would in order to boost the flavour and create full bodied, robust wines.
*Chemical Senses, Volume 44, Issue 1, January 2019