As someone who writes about alcohol for a living, it’s surprising how often my products that don’t contain any real alcohol are featured in them. The reason should be fairly obvious: the so-called “sober curiosity” movement is growing by leaps and bounds. This cuts all strips of wine, beer and wine And the spirits. Market research tells us that this is driven by a new generation of drinkers who want to be healthier when they go out…which often equates to consuming less alcohol.
Suddenly, a flood of risk-free options appeared to meet their needs. I Wants To like some of them, I really like it. In the best iterations, they are very cleverly marketed. And who doesn’t want to feel part of a trending movement? I didn’t feel compelled to write about any of these alternatives because almost all of them are uninteresting – if not downright insulting – to my taste.
When I take a break from booze, sparkling water is my weapon of choice. It’s crunchy, refreshing, and always cheaper than expensive sodas and sweet disguised as the “unavailable section” of modern bar menus. Then I discovered something amazing in gaseous form: liquid water jumped. Finally an alcoholic alternative worth writing about.
This is a class with a purpose. When done properly, it provides the bitter rusty metallic tone that chiefs crave; A viable stand from a flavor standpoint and it does so without even a single calorie. If you’re going to the N/A for health reasons, you might as well give up an odd 200 calories waiting for you in a typical tall guy of lackluster beer.
There are a growing number of examples on the market, but my favorite at the moment is Hoplark 0.0 Really Really Hoppy. The Boulder, Colorado-based operation had already made a splash in the beverage space with its scintillating HopTea offerings designed for iced tea lovers. For this new series, they wanted to mimic the traditional West Coast IPA profile.
They achieved this feat by double-drilling soda water with Simcoe and Citra Hops – two familiar suspects from the craft beer world. It’s a compelling enough implementation that when I open a can in the morning, my brain asks why I’m indulging in brewski for breakfast. However, this sleight of hand does not come cheap. A 12-pack will set you back $39—more than $3 per 16-ounce can.
The company offers discounts to those who sign up for the subscription service, which also offers dips first on new jump-up offers. “The monthly Hop Explorer series excites me as much today as any rare beer release,” admits Aaron Goldfarb, beer writer/author, and outspoken critic of the NA trend. “I particularly enjoyed the recent anniversary mix with Citra, Sabro, and Mosaic.”
For those who don’t mind a hint of fruit flavor to go along with the bitterness, the HOP WTR is well worth exploring. The soda water pipeline comes in four different flavors plus “classic” It promises adaptive substances and nootropics to go along with each. Lime is a premium product, infused with Mosaic, Azacca, Citra and Amarillo varieties.
Athletic Brewing Company gets even more creative with the fruity flavor of its Daypack line of non-alcoholic beverages. It’s also the most affordable at $10 for a six-pack, although a seasoned header will likely be hungry for something unabashedly like IPA.
As an emerging technique, the use of jump-start coolant is currently mainly limited to outdoors. I have yet to see any examples listed in my local watering holes. I hope to see this change in the coming months. Because this is the first – and only – category of alcoholic alternatives that I am happy to put on my bar bill.