The nay-sayers will tell you that alcohol-free wine is just grape juice. The nay-sayers are wrong. So very wrong. Anyone who has tasted our fine non-alcoholic wine knows just how close they are to the alcoholic varieties. Let’s find out why…
Your Guide to Australian Made Non-Alcoholic Drinks
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 health benefits.
Getting well vs getting wasted
Instead of getting wasted, lots of people, like me, 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.
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 kosher - 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 among us 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 they contain. For example, the Natureo Rose contains half the calories as regular white wine and the Seedlip range of non-alcoholic distilled sprits contain no calories and no added 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 such as Campari and Bourbon.
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 word's first non-alcoholic distilled spirit uses different neutral grain spirits (NGSs) with their botanicals, then they remove the alcohol through evaporation.
Other brands such as Brunswick Aces and ATLD Spirits use no alcohol (or neutral grain spirit) during production. They 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...
You may not know this but Lyre's is actually 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
The Lyre's Espresso Martini is a seriously invigorating drink. It is the perfect non-alcoholic alternative for those of us who love an Espresso Martini to keep us going on a night out. It tastes just like the real thing, without souring the coffee experience with a gross hangover the next day.
At Brunswick Aces they distill alcoholic gin, as well as alcohol-free gin alternatives referred to as Sapiirs. These Sapiirs hold the same flavour profiles so you can seamlessly switch between them without sacrificing experience or flavour. Brunswick Aces are all about promoting moderation over outright abstinence so they are passionate about providing alcohol-esque options to non-drinkers everywhere.
All Brunswick Aces drinks are made in Brunswick with the gorgeous flavours of native Australian ingredients. They are certainly giving Aussies everywhere the opportunity to transform their lifestyles by drinking alternatives to regular gin.
Try out: a Brunswick Aces Sapiir with Tonic No. 8 for a classic tasting G&T.
Brunswick Aces Sapiir and Strangelove Tonic No. 8 are both well-loved Australian products. They pair in the most perfect way to create a non-alcoholic version of the G&T we all know and love. Strangelove are a drinks company with a difference - their tonics and low-cal sodas contain no artificial sweeteners. They use natural ingredients to craft out-of-this-world flavour to mix with drinks or enjoy on their own.
Imagine if gin had a funky, urban non-alcoholic twin. 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 health benefits when compared with mainstream alcoholic spirits are compelling enough to turn even the most dedicated spirit drinkers to an alcohol-free lifestyle.
ALTD don't just craft delicious Aussie-inspired non-alcoholic spirits, they also support two amazing Australian charities, The Jimmy Little Foundation and The White Jacket Effect.
Try out: an ALTD Silver Plum Mojito
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 that are truly delightful drops with their own unique personalities. They've also dappled in crafting a Dark & Stormy that has all the amazing taste and feel of a regular rum and ginger beer cocktail. Monday intend on expanding their range in the near future with a vodka and whisky in the works.
They are hellbent on offering healthier, sugar-free, non-alcoholic pre-mixed drink options to everyone who wants an alternative to hangovers and drunken antics.
Like Monday Distillery, Altina Drinks offers a range of delectable pre-mixed drinks - in Altina's case, they are fruity, sweet zero proof cocktails. Altina drinks have 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 certainly provide an interesting experience for adventurous drinkers to reach out and taste.
What is non-alcoholic or dealcoholized beer?
Non-alcoholic or dealcoholized beer is beer that has never contained alcohol, or has had the alcohol removed to a level that allows it to be referred to as "non-alcoholic" or "alcohol-free". This level is 0.05% alcohol content which takes into account the very minimal amount of residue that may be left in some alcohol-free beer after the alcohol removal process is completed.
How is non-alcoholic or dealcoholized beer made?
There are two quite interesting ways that non-alcoholic beer is predominantly 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 in order to prevent alcohol from forming in the first place.
The method of dealcoholization is slightly different as it involves removing the alcohol from a fully fledged, fully brewed beer. There are a few different ways to achieve dealcoholization including the boil-off method, vacuum distillation, membrane filtration or reverse osmosis. Heineken Zero is delacoholized, for example, with fruity aromas being added back in to ensure the true Heineken taste remains.
Here are a few of our favourite Australian alcohol-free beers...
Carlton Zero provides beer lovers the opportunity to enjoy a crisp, refreshing drop of the good stuff in a responsible way. As well as being free of alcohol, Carlton Zero has ten times less sugar than soft drinks - enjoying a beer doesn't have to make you feel guilty about watching your waistline and your sugar intake anymore. It's no surprise that 3.2 million litres were sold within the very first year of production.
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 beer fridges, man caves and pubs everywhere.
UpFlow have brought the Australian public exactly what they've been asking for: a range of non-alcoholic beverages for beer drinkers of all dispositions.
Their wheat beer tastes just like a great wheat beer should. Their session IPA is perfectly brewed to keep you going all session long. Their pale ale has the floral, tropical notes that everyone loves in a delicious craft beer. Their stout is dark with chocolate and coffee undertones for lovers of a darker beer.
UpFlow stake the claim that their beer is the world's best tasting beer with no alcohol. Their innovative brewing methods, all natural ingredients (pure malt, yeast, hops and water) and technical knowledge of the beer brewing process and machinery really do back up their claims. Try out one of their brews today and let us know what you think.
What is non-alcoholic wine?
Non-alcoholic or low-alcohol wine is not simply "grape juice". In many cases, non-alcoholic wine goes through much the same winemaking process as wine with high alcohol volumes. The difference is that the wine is removed once the process is complete. Of course, there are non-alcoholic wines that are made through different methods where alcohol isn't even introduced to the mix.
From shiraz to bubbly, all types of wine are able to be produced in Australia, sans the alcohol.
Our Aussie non-alcoholic wine picks...
Named International Winemaker of the Year four years running, McGuigan knows what they're doing. Their Zero range of non-alcoholic wines is a true testament to their winemaking expertise. In June 2020, this innovative range was launched and they are 100% worth trying if you're thinking of making the switch to an alcohol-free lifestyle.
The MacGuigan Zero wines are a range of products from a top Australian brand that has earned the trust of wine connoisseurs worldwide. Shiraz, Rosé, Sparkling or Sauvignon Blanc are all available with the potential for more to come.
The Lindeman's Early Harvest range is full to bursting with delicious, refreshing low-alcohol 0.5% wines. With less calories and alcohol than regular, mainstream wine brands, Lindeman's is an obvious choice for health conscious people who still like to drink a nice glass of wine at a dinner party, celebration or just a night at home.
Their Semillon Chardonnay and Sparkling Chardonnay Pinot Noir are two wines that shine bright with the flavours, aromas and general characteristics of their alcoholic counterparts, without the risk of drunken embarrassment, a shocking hangover, or sugary influence over your body and lifestyle.
NEWBLOOD know the rules of winemaking but they choose to break them in order to craft innovative, fancy, delicious alcohol-free wines. They use a triple distillation process to remove the alcohol from the wine they make, without having to heat the wine. This helps keep the distinct flavour of a classic wine, without the alcohol.
They also leave their grapes to ripen just a little more than they typically would in order to boost the flavour and ensure it sticks around long after the alcohol has been removed.
Red wine lovers will enjoy a glass of NEWBLOOD Shiraz, whilst white wine drinkers can pick up a bottle of their crisp Chardonnay. These wines are both delicious and will quench the cravings of any wine drinker who is making the switch to an alcohol-free lifestyle.
Go on - put ‘sober curious’ in your bio, and start building an Instagram worthy bar cart of alcohol free options!
*Chemical Senses, Volume 44, Issue 1, January 2019
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