Booze Alternative: Britvic Ginger Beer

Over the last month and a bit, I’ve tried quite a few ginger beers and ales, and I’ve discovered that there are two things I prefer in this particular subgroup of beverages:

  1. A sweet and strong taste.
  2. Just enough spice to add nicely to the above without causing me to have a coughing fit while drinking it.

Britvic Ginger Beer, I have found, fits both criteria beautifully.

Britvic Ginger Beer
Britvic Ginger Beer.

I first tried this one in the bar at the Red Lion in Newburgh, where we were staying for Jen’s 30th birthday a few weeks ago. There was a bit of confusion, because the bar had both Britvic Ginger Beer and Britvic Ginger Ale, but according to the barman it was definitely the ginger beer that I had. Anyway, it was delicious, and so when we were in Leeds last Saturday night, I was delighted when Geth returned from the hotel bar with another bottle so that I could try it again.

It was still the tastiest of ginger beers, so I will continue to look out for it wherever I go!

Booze Alternative: Old Mout Alcohol-Free Berries & Cherries

When I discovered the booze alternative shelf of the booze aisle in Sainsburys the other week (it’s a magic shelf that only becomes visible after you get sober), I couldn’t believe my luck to find that there were not one but TWO alcohol-free ciders on offer. One of them was the sickly sweet Kopparberg Pear that I already knew about (I drank a fair few of those during the time I gave up alcohol for Lent in 2010), but the other, to my great joy, was an Old Mout, one of my very favourite brands of cider.

Old Mout Alcohol-Free Berries & Cherries
Old Mout Alcohol-Free Berries & Cherries.

Could this really be as good as it seemed? Could I really stay sober and still drink something that tasted like cider?

Well, yes and no.

On that first sip, it felt like I was onto a winner. It didn’t taste exactly like its alcoholic counterpart, but it was close enough, and the sweet berry flavour was nice even though the alcoholic tang was missing. But as I drank more of the bottle, it just started to feel really sad and empty, and I found myself drinking faster and faster, my brain getting more and more confused at the lack of buzz, and it made me really, really anxious and actually quite shaky.

And when I finally finished the drink, I didn’t just want another, like what had happened with San Miguel 0.0.

Instead, I desperately, desperately wanted a ‘real’ Old Mout.

So, not a safe drink for me, then. It’s a shame, as I find the taste so delicious…but, well, there’s a reason for that, and that reason is that my brain associates it with getting drunk. One to avoid, sadly.

Booze Alternative: Square Root Ginger Beer

Ginger beer is the new cider. It’s official.

I had this Square Root offering in a service station on the way home from Lancashire the other week.

Square Root Ginger Beer
Square Root Ginger Beer.

The above picture also includes a bonus sighting of Dad in his Faroese jumper. I still miss my matching toddler version, which stubbornly refused to grow with me:

Matching Faroese jumpers
1987. I’ll never have another ’80s jumper like it, no matter how many vintage fairs I sift through.

Anyway, the Square Root ginger beer is better than the Fentimans version in some ways (it’s not spicy enough to make me cough!) but worse in others (it’s not sweet enough for my liking). Still on the hunt for a perfect ginger beer.

Booze Alternative: Nosecco

I first tried this alcohol-free fizzy alternative at my cousin Jen’s 30th the weekend before last. It was quite tasty, so when Geth and I were due to celebrate the arrival of his sabbatical on Friday evening, I bought another bottle for us to share.

Nosecco
Nosecco.

I had been slightly worried that Nosecco would feel more like ‘fake booze’ than a booze alternative, i.e. set off my mental compulsions around alcohol like San Miguel 0.0 did, but strangely it didn’t – I didn’t feel the urge to chug it down or race Geth to the bottom of the glass like I always did with alcoholic fizzy. Perhaps this is because it really tastes quite different to prosecco, cava, or champagne, and so my mind’s not being tricked into thinking I’m drinking alcohol. It’s something I’ll always be cautious about, though, if I have this again in the future.

Booze Alternative: San Pellegrino Limonata

I’d heard some good things about San Pellegrino as a booze alternative, so when Geth met me for a drink at the Sage Gateshead bar last Wednesday before my ukulele class, I decided to try one.

San Pellegrino Limonata
San Pellegrino Limonata.

I went for the Limonata flavour. Unfortunately I found it a bit sour for my taste – I prefer ‘special’ drinks to be sweeter – so I probably wouldn’t have it again. I’m interested to try the other San Pellegrino flavours though!

Booze Alternative: Fentimans Ginger Beer

I did my first sober restaurant visit on Sunday night. San Lorenzo in Newcastle was a new find for me and Geth (as I’ve mentioned a couple of times this week), and I picked it because they had an online menu so I could see what the non-alcoholic options were. They had loads – Becks Blue and San Pellegrino and Fentimans – and if it were a pub I could honestly have been there all day trying all the different options, which is a very good sign. I decided on a Fentimans Ginger Beer, and as it turned out, I only needed the one.

Fentimans Ginger Beer
Fentimans Ginger Beer.

Fentimans Ginger Beer is extremely tasty. The ginger in it is very spicy, so I actually found myself choking on it a few times, but to be honest that’s probably for the best – I’d drink it a lot quicker otherwise, and this stuff is not as syn-free as Diet Coke!

I also found it didn’t set off my booze compulsions like the San Miguel 0.0 I’d tried a couple of nights previously – as I said, I only had the one, and didn’t feel the pull to have another – so this stuff’s probably safer for me to drink than non-alcoholic beer. It tastes nicer anyway!

Booze Alternative: San Miguel 0.0

I wasn’t expecting to try non-alcoholic beer so early after quitting drinking. However, last Friday, Geth accidentally bought a can of San Miguel 0.0 at King’s Cross on the way back from his business trip, and gave it to me when he got back home.

San Miguel 0.0
San Miguel 0.0.

I was never really a beer drinker unless cider was unavailable. However, this tastes exactly like the kind of beer that’s palatable to me – light, generic-tasting lager. It was nice and refreshing.

I don’t think I’ll drink non-alcoholic beer in the house again, though, because I found that my mind was doing a lot of the compulsions it always did around actual alcohol (*chug chug chug* *satisfying can squish* ‘BRING ME ANOTHER’) – and that’s the kind of thing I wanted to get away from by becoming sober. I’d be willing to try drinking it in restaurants, where my drink mentality works differently – but I know I need to be cautious, so we’ll see.