As I mentioned before, in an effort to try and minimise any weight gain and hopefully accelerate the healing process while I’m housebound with a gammy leg and can’t exercise, I’m off the alcohol (40 days so far, go me!) Although come the weekend the wine has been calling me from the little Tesco down the road, despite me being able to limp down there, I’ve ignored it and stuck to water. I got bored quickly with water though and started making my own drinks – I made lemon barley water, dandelion and burdock soda, lemon, ginger and mint lemonade, and ginger lemonade. I even bought swing-top glass bottles to store the drinks in. Despite these drinks being refreshing, tasty and healthy, they weren’t really doing it for me on a Saturday night so, when Wise Bartender offered to send me some alcohol-free drinks, I thought I’d give them a go.
At first I felt apprehensive. I thought, what if they’re minging and all they do is make me want to limp down to the little Tesco and get some of the real stuff? I remember when Kaliber came out years ago and it had a bad reputation. ‘Gnats piss’, I think was the official term. I tried a bit of a Becks Blue a friend had in the pub a few months ago and I was surprised at how realistic it was but I wasn’t convinced it was a proper substitute if I wanted a drink. I mean, it might taste like lager, but it’s not going to make you feel like you’ve had a drink, is it? Which, let’s face it, is mostly why people drink in the first place.
I’d planned for the drinks from Wise Bartender to be my first foray into alcohol-free lager so I could write this review from a complete alcohol-free newbie’s perspective but I had a box of Budweiser Prohibition in the fridge that I’d bought out of curiousness from the little Tesco a week or so previously that I hadn’t had the courage to try yet. Then it got to Good Friday and my Facebook timeline was full of people drinking all day, afternoon and evening and, although Friday has always been a non-drinking day for me because Saturday morning has always been my long run day, cravings kicked in and while I made my dinner, I got a can of the alcohol-free Budweiser from the fridge and cracked it open.
Well, that was a revelation. Not only did it smell and taste like a normal can of Bud, on my first sip, I had that ‘first drink of the day’ feeling, too. Amazing. I spent the evening in front of the TV drinking another two cans, feeling just like I was having a drink but without the desire to carry on drinking any more than a normal person should and went to bed at a reasonable time knowing there’d be no hangover in the morning.
I was for sure an alcohol-free convert.
What’s the point of alcohol-free beer?
40 days ago, I thought, ‘what’s the point of alcohol-free beer? No one drinks alcohol for the taste and, even if it did taste like the real thing, it’s not and won’t feel like it, so you might as well drink something that tastes nice, like cranberry and lemonade or something’. But there might be an occasion when you feel like a drink but you can’t because you’re pregnant, driving, on medication, have to be up early in the morning, cutting down on drinking, etc. and I’ve got to say, these alcohol-free beers really hit the spot. Also, beer is REALLY fattening and these alcohol-free versions are much lower in calories than their alcoholic counterparts, with the exception of Budweiser Prohibition which has 111 calories per 330ml can, which isn’t very low in comparison to the 134 calories in the usual one (so it’s unfortunate that the Budweiser Prohibition is my favourite, dammit). A lot of the beers are brewed like ‘normal’ beer, then they have the alcohol taken out of them. I suppose this is how they keep the taste.
Wise Bartender Alcohol-Free Specialist
Before I’d heard of Wise Bartender, I had no idea there were so many alcohol-free lagers, beers, ciders, wines and spirits around. Kaliber, yep. Becks Blue and Budweiser Prohibition, yep. But Koppaberg, Sauvignon Blanc, sparkling wine, gin and loads of other well-known beer such as Erdinger and San Miguel too? Hell no! But it’s true, they all exist in non-alcoholic-form and Wise Bartender stocks them all. And not only do they stock them all, they allow you to buy single bottles so you can mix and match and try a variety instead of having to buy in multiples, like other websites do. Wise Bartender is also great because not only did they send me a few vegan-friendly alcohol-free beers, sparkling wine and g&ts to try, their website is set up in categories so you can easily find what you want, whether that’s:
- beer, cider, spirits or wine
- vegan, gluten-free or isotonic
- variety packs of sparkling wine, spirits, isotonic, ciders, and more
They also have:
- free delivery for orders over £59,
- pop-ups around the country (I need to get them to come to the Folkestone Harbour Arm)
- a Strava club
- a loyalty scheme
- 5% discount with the code CLUBSODAVIP
Below, I’ll show you the vegan alcohol-free beers I tried and what I thought of them.
Jever Fun Low Alcohol Pilsner (0% ABV) 39 calories per 330ml bottle
After trying and loving the Budweiser Prohibition, I felt hesitant to try any others as I thought the Bud must be a one-off and all the others would be cack. I’m pleased to be proved wrong though and this Jever Fun had a nice golden colour and you could see the bubbles happily making their way up to the top of the glass after I’d haphazardly poured it into a glass, which resulted in about two inches of froth. It’s initial light, crisp and subtle taste turned a bit sour after it’d been sitting around for a couple of hours but you wouldn’t usually leave beer sitting around for a couple of hours if it had alcohol in it, so that’s neither here nor there really.
And the best bit? There’s only 39 calories in a 330ml bottle. Yee ha.
Estrella Damm Free (0.0% ABV) 50 calories per 250ml bottle
This one was a bit darker than the Jever. I poured this one more carefully and it had a bit of froth. It seemed to be a thicker texture with a fuller flavour than the Jever. Nice and hoppy.
Ambar 0.0 (0% ABV) 66 calories per 330ml bottle
The first alcohol-free gluten-free beer. This seemed a bit darker than normal lager colour – it’s darker than the previous two, anyway. My first thoughts were that it had a thin head and a watery appearance with a sour taste that was more like a weak lager-flavoured water and I didn’t really get the feeling I was drinking lager while I drank it. It wasn’t my favourite at the time but it got better the more I drank of it, which is something that usually only happens if a drink contains alcohol. If you’re desperate for a gluten-free alcohol-free beer, give it a go.
FitBeer (0.3% ABV) 66 calories per 330ml bottle
I left this one until last because with all the claims it made:
- being rich in B12
- full of folic acid
I thought, ‘what the fuck – you’re making out a beer is healthy? This is going to be shit,’ so I planned to hate it before I’d even tried it. And now I feel the need to make a public apology to FitBeer because it was it tasty and satisfying and if you say you complement a healthy lifestyle, then I’ll happily drink lots of you.
TeeTotal G’n’T (0%ABV) 52 calories per 200ml bottle
I have to start by saying I am not a gin drinker. I’ve probably drank gin twice in my life and this is nicer than I remember gin being, so it’s probably nothing like gin at all. It had a slightly bitter taste reminiscent of diet lemonade. I’d drink it on a hot summer’s day but it had no ‘I’m having a drink’ feel to it.
So, I’ve got to say – again – these alcohol-free drinks are revelationary. If you’re off the beer for whatever reason but still fancy a proper drink, I certainly recommend giving these a go. I’m astonished at how I felt like I was having a drink, without actually having a drink.
Win a ‘Vegan-ator’ Wise Pack of 11 alcohol-free drinks from Wise Bartender
Wise Bartender are giving away one of their ‘Vegan-ator’ Wise Packs to one Planet Veggie reader. The pack contains one of each vegan-friendly:
- Bitburger Drive NA (0%ABV)
- Brewdog Nanny State (0.5% ABV)
- Budweiser Budvar B NA (<0.5% ABV)
- Erdinger Alkoholfrei (<0.5%ABV)
- Innis & None Pale Ale (0% ABV)
- Jever Fun Low Alcohol Pilsner (0% ABV)
- Krombacher NA Pilsner (0.5% ABV)
- Maisels Alcohol Free (<0.5% ABV)
- San Miguel 0,0 (0% ABV)
- Ambar 0.0 (0% ABV)
- Nirvana Sutra IPA (0.5% ABV)
Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below – good luck!
Many thanks to Wise Bartender for sending me some alcohol-free drinks to review and for supplying the Vegan-ator Wise Pack to give away. Please visit the Wise Bartender website to find out more about them and to view their whole range.