Starting in 2008 and quickly snowballing into a major fundraiser, Dry July and its month-long alcohol-free challenge is seen by many to be just that: a challenge.
Forcing overly sweet soft drinks or bland-tasting alcohol-free drinks down at the bar or worse, hermitting yourself completely for the month were once the only option. But there’s a service that makes Dry July a breeze—maybe even enjoyable!
When my parents decided to give up booze in 2014, I was surprised, but quite proud. Everyone in my family enjoys a drink and alcohol almost featured at gatherings and parties, so I knew it would be hard for them.
Or at least I thought I did.
Recently, I went back to the UK and spent a fortnight with Mum and Dad, who really thriving on their alcohol-free lifestyle. And far from it feeling like I was going without, for me it was actually a welcome break from drinking.
But that’s not to say I didn’t have a beer or a glass of wine.
’ere son, try this one. It’s a milk stout. Not bad.
The journey of high-quality zero or low alcohol drinks has finally reached a point where it’s actually getting somewhere. I remember when there were only two non-alcoholic beers widely available; and they were vile.
But now the craft movement has taken charge and my folks have become quite the connoisseurs.
One evening after dinner, my dad snapped the fridge shut brandishing a bright purple and blue can.
“‘ere son,” he winked. “Try this one. It’s a milk stout. Not bad.”
And indeed it wasn’t. It was the Galactic Milk Stout from Big Drop Brewing. Rich, dark, silky smooth. Plenty of toasty malt and chocolate but with a shout of citrus from the hops—the real deal.
It’s this kind of high-quality product that makes efforts like Dry July and Feb-Fast feel like a breeze.
Of all the low- or no-alcohol drinks, 0% beer has been around the longest, which is probably one of the reasons it’s come the furthest in terms of quality and range.
There are so many different types from breweries all over the world, and some of the IPAs and well-hopped ales are better than many full-strength versions.
Beneficial Beer Co, based in Surry Hills, Sydney, makes one thing: their 0% beer Stone Cold Lager, and there’s something to be said for doing one thing well. This lager—whether it’s got alcohol in it or not—is a ripper.
Just what you need when all you really want is a proper beer.
Buy your Beneficial Beer Co Stone Cold Lager here.
If a bright fresh pale ale is more your vibe, Out Here Beer‘s Frisbee in the Park Pale Ale has everything you need (minus the hangover).
This 0% brew is ideal for that picnic you have to drive to or the end of a long day’s bushwalk when you’ve still got a long way to go yet.
A cracking Aussie pale ale, Frisbee in the Park the next step in the cultural revolution of beer appreciation without the alcohol.
Buy your Out Here Beer Frisbee in the Park Pale Ale here.
And if you want a bit more fruitiness in your beer, Capital Brewing in Canberra has created their first alcohol-free beer, Alc-Less. Just like their other full-strength brews, this Pacific Ale is full of character and flavour—just better behaved!
Grab your Capital Brewing Alc-Less Pacific Ale from Craft Zero here.
Alcohol-free wine is a much trickier area than its booze-free beer compadre.
Historically, it’s had issues with too much residual sugar making the wine quite sweet, and not being able to hide that behind hops—or anything else really—has meant lots of innovation from the winemakers.
Also the somewhat derisory question ‘isn’t it just grape juice then?’ still comes up even now.
Winemakers employ so much science to their NOLO wine it’s far from ‘just grape juice’. Most winemakers create a full-strength wine then use a cone centrifuge to separate the alcohol.
There’s still a way to go for wine, but many—like 1920 Wines in South Australia—are right on the money.
Inspired by the 1920s’ Prohibition Era, this boutique winery makes a Sauvignon Blanc that’s so similar to a full-strength Sauv Blanc you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference.
You can buy your 1920 Sauvignon Blanc here.
Definitely making the biggest ripple in the NOLO market is the advent of alcohol-free spirits.
With alcohol playing such a large part of the flavour and texture of a spirit, removing that element is not only difficult and expensive, but also hard to maintain the drink’s integrity.
Certainly the best known if not the best at doing it, Lyre’s really challenges the norms around spirits, and their range is ever-expanding.
One of their latest and most impressive SKUs is the Lyre’s Highland Malt, a non-alcoholic scotch whisky.
This is the first Lyre’s product they’ve made specifically with drinking on the rocks in mind. Others are more for cocktails.
You can buy your Lyre’s Highland Malt here.
Craftzero artisan alcohol-free drinks retailer
Finding the right non-alcoholic drink is tricky—you really don’t know whether you’re buying into the good stuff or just something that’s going to drive you to drink!
It’s the tricky part of buying from a relatively new market.
Craftzero is a company that’s focused on sourcing the best versions of these NOLO products from all over the world. They sell all of the Aussie drinks we’ve looked at here plus lots of others.
And when it comes to Dry July, this is the one-stop shop you need.
They have Beer Boxes that contain 24 cans of all the best 0% craft beers. There’s also a Wine Box of six specially chosen bottles that’ll keep you on track for Dry July or whatever you motivation is for cutting back on the booze without denying yourself a treat.
In fact there are pages of options for bundles that bring together a great variety of non-alcoholic drinks to keep you entertained. Check them out here.
For many of us, Dry July—that 31-day stretch of alcohol abstinence—represents a time of denying ourselves the simple pleasure of a tasty drink at the end of a tough day.
But thanks to companies like Craftzero, that doesn’t have to be the case anymore.