Shape up for Spring
Tony Cox takes some of the latest non-alcoholic offerings for a taste-test drive and finds he can still walk a line without sacrificing taste.
You know something is brewing when the publisher rings and asks, “Coxy, are you doing Dry July?”
Must be new profile shots or something like that. Deb, maybe the wide-angle lens doesn’t cover this wide, but I now have the motivation to lose some of those COVID curves and shrink from the 2XU’s down to the 1XU’s! And what better way than to test drive a few zero-alcohol products. Better still, I don’t have to wait to midday to crack the top off a frothy!
My experience has consistently been that the zero alcohol products can often get close on taste to their full-strength counterparts, but the key differential is they find it difficult to replicate the viscosity and texture, although this is probably more applicable to spirits and wine than beer.
I knocked the top off a few lager-style beers, Great Northern, Heineken 00 and Peroni Libera to see what they were like.
To be honest the Great Northern was the most ‘beer-like’ flavoured beverage and was not far off the mark of its full-strength counterpart. Refreshing, with a touch of hops with a crisp finish it was very pleasant.
The Heineken 00 had the trademark hop-driven flavour of its big brother, lovely malt profile and was a contender for top spot but in my opinion was just shaded by the Great Northern.
In comparison, the Peroni Libera appeared a little sweet and the least beer-like of the three.
From there I launched into two ‘craft’ beers. The Sobah Ginger Lime Cerveza, brewed on the Gold Coast by Indigenous owners is infused with finger lime and delivers a refreshing citrus tang balanced with hop bitterness.
The Australian Sports Brewing Company produces the Zero+ Electrolyte Enhanced Pale Ale. I got right into the theme of this, donning the lycra, and for a fleeting moment I did feel like an elite athlete. Just like a pale ale it had a strong hop presence and expressed typicity you would expect from a pale ale. It was a pleasant drink.
To finish the session, I waded into two premix drinks put out by the team at Lyre’s.
Packaged to reflect their premium positioning in attractive slim line 250ml cans, the G&T had all of the flavours of a regular gin & tonic: citrus, juniper, quinine. I found it very palatable.
The American Malt & Cola offering smelled just like a bourbon and cola. With vanilla sweetness mimicking the sweet American oak, balanced by a slightly less sweet cola the overall impression was very positive.
The only thing missing was the alcohol warmth – very true to the original.
These pre-mixed drinks from Lyre’s present a sophisticated, high-quality offering in the zero-alcohol space and I can’t wait to explore the range further.
To further help the no-alocohol cause, local lager specialists, Heads of Noosa, has added Hop Valley H20 to its range. A sparkling hop-infused water that has the distinct aromatics of hops, therefore beer, with zero sugar and zero alcohol. Great packaging so you look like part of the session but a clean, refreshing taste with no alcohol. Designated driver written all over it!
Overall, the exploration into non-alcoholic beer and pre-mix spirits was an eye-opener into how far along the quality path these products have come. Whether you don’t drink but are looking for something that makes fitting in easier or if you wish to savour the taste without the alcohol, these offerings highlight some of the better examples of what is available.
Cheers and responsible drinking!