So here I am trawling through the non alcoholic beers and wondering why they all are so disappointing (apart from the obvious lack of active ingredient).
I am at a disadvantage straight away as I am more of an ale drinker, and most of what I have come across in our local generic supermarkets – and for that matter pubs – are lager based offerings. I think it is a shame as I would have though more hops and flavourings from ale based process might give something less insipid.
But then most of the non alcohol brands are continental brands so I should not expect anything else.
At least one thing has changed – there is a slight amount of choice in comparison to the old days. Historically, those of us of a certain age will only remember Kaliber – take a moment to enjoy Billy Connolly and a very large glass http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cd1BW931bLw
Sounds good doesn’t it? You can drink as much as you like.
Well, no. First, it was not cheap enough (it was a premium product) to drink that much and secondly it tasted awful. There is something about the earlier non alcohol ‘beers’ that gave them a kind of horrid aftertaste (a bit like de-alcoholised wine, but that is another thing altogether).
Thankfully, there seems to be a few now that may not be anything special but at least have a cleaner taste – Becks Blue for instance which seems reasonably well distributed. But they are deeply unsatisfying and come in tiny little bottles. I mean, this is my second problem. After a couple of mouthfuls they are gone. A pint should last you at least half an hour, sipping and enjoying and otherwise there is no real point. And just because it is not alcohol based does not mean you should not be able to enjoy it slowly with your still alcohol drinking friends and family (my problem with the juice option – I drink them far too fast and sit looking at the empty glass while everyone else has hardly started).
So here are my solutions so far.
The old pint of iced water with flavouring thing… Well at least it is a long drink.
Friends I know do the old Soda and Lime and it is a good option; fresh lemon is good too. Pretend it has vodka in it or something. I find it quite funny that when I order it in my local that the other regulars assume I am on antibiotics. Better than if the Lovely Wife were to join me (she hasn’t) as they would probably assume a bun in the oven.
Then there is my old friend shandy – yes, the good old combination of some kind of beer with lemonade. I ‘m not cheating here by the away, I mean non alcohol beer plus lemonade. I have no idea why it took me so long to get to that one – it seems obvious and frankly, there is no difference as far as I can tell between a zero alcohol lager shandy and one made with a generic real lager.
So I’m off – I now have the solution for the long drink that feels like a pint but isn’t one. An old and obvious solution of course but those kinds are precisely those that are staring you in the face.
Mind you, it does make me burp a lot.
I will give an honourable mention for the Erdinger non-alcohol Weisbeer (purchased in that haven of the middle class that is Waitrose), which rather sweetly does not even call itself non or low alcohol beer but markets itself as an ‘isotonic drink’ – and, glory of glories – actually is rather nice. In fact, when Lent is over I might want to continue to drink this as an alternative to the standard fizzy drinks, if only to freak them out at work when they think that it has all become too much and I’m really drinking beer at my desk.
Has to be done, you know.
Which I think brings me to the thoughtful point (finally, yes there is one).
Too many of these products really are just attempts at alcohol replacement and not an attempt to produce a drink people might want to imbibe for its own sake and that is why. Inevitably, they are a disappointment.
That is a shame really as there is a lot of room out there for new, tasty and (kind of, at least in terms of vitamins etc) healthy drinks – something a bit different.
So I’m continuing to explore, and that is helping with the loss of the nice pint or two of beer I am looking forward to reintroducing – in a responsible way of course – in a few weeks. But I would also like to find things that are better for me that I could look forward too just as much as that nice gin and tonic. But then, I do set my sights a bit high.