Booze Alternative: Tesco No Added Sugar Ginger Beer

My absolute go-to ginger beer is the Sainsbury’s Fiery Ginger Beer (which is sugar-free and therefore also calorie-free/syn-free), so I was really interested to try the Tesco equivalent when Mum and Dad got some in over the summer.

Tesco No Added Sugar Ginger Beer
Tesco No Added Sugar Ginger Beer.

It’s not as sweet as the Sainsbury’s version, but it’s really nice and spicy! I look forward to having a few more of these when I’m visiting home for Christmas.

Life without alcohol update: six months sober

Half a year without a drop of alcohol today. I couldn’t have imagined that this time last year.

Flowers and gravel

On the whole, the trend over the last six months is that things have gradually become easier. But it’s not a straight trajectory by any means – I’ve found the last fortnight to be really difficult with the nice weather, because every time I’m outside, I find myself walking past beer gardens and people having drinks at barbecues. Summer, in my younger days, was always just one long, hazy, booze-soaked non-memory. It was the season of all-day drinking at weddings and on holidays. It was the best season for cider, and the only season when it was acceptable to sit on the grass in the park and crack open that first can at 11am. It was the season of a hundred outdoor music gigs and festivals of which I have absolutely no memory of the bands but could still find my way to the bar tent in my sleep. Without alcohol, I have to admit that I am finding summer a bit anxiety-inducing.

This is one of the reasons that I am giving music festivals a miss this year for the first time in adulthood. I’ll be ready to give them a go again next year – there’s an ’80s/industrial long weekender in Belgium and a synthwave festival in London that I’d really love to try – but it’d just be a bit too much this summer.

I’ve not been trying as many booze alternatives over the last couple of months, because I feel like I’ve found the favourites that work for me (Sainsbury’s Fiery Ginger Beer is my go-to on evenings in the house, because it’s calorie-free, while Fentimans Rose Lemonade is nice for a treat when I’m out, and for a proper celebratory-feeling drink I like Nosecco), but I’ve still got a few to review from earlier in the year.

Booze alternatives I’ve reviewed over the last month:

I’ve been listening to sobriety podcasts again over the last month, and they’ve been really helpful – I’ve also been finding online and offline support groups to be an important anchor. It’s hard when I’m so busy, but I really am trying to make time for things that are more therapeutic at the moment.

Booze Alternative: Bundaberg Ginger Beer

I found this one in our local pub – the pub that I was getting a bit disillusioned with when I was still drinking, because their cider selection wasn’t as good as it used to be. That’s no longer a concern, obviously, and I’m pleased that they’ve got a good alcohol-free option for me to have now that I’m sober.

Bundaberg Ginger Beer
Bundaberg Ginger Beer.

It’s got a really lovely taste – it’s not super spicy, but it’s very nice. Definitely one I’ll be drinking a lot of!

Booze Alternative: Sainsbury’s Fiery Ginger Beer

I wasn’t going to review this one, because it’s sugar free and hence a ‘diet’/syn-free drink (it comes in two-litre plastic bottles, like most branded fizzy drinks), so I wasn’t going to count it as a ‘special’ or ‘celebratory’ booze alternative. However, it’s so tasty that I have found myself choosing it over sugary versions of ginger beer, with the bonus that I can spend my syns on other things. Win-win!

Sainsbury's Fiery Ginger Beer
Sainsbury’s Fiery Ginger Beer.

It can be slightly cough/sneeze-inducing if I drink it too fast, but it’s a really nice-tasting ginger beer and has become my go-to for an evening drink.

Booze Alternative: John Crabbie & Co Ginger Beer

This was another drink that I found in the non-alcoholic section at Sainsbury’s.

John Crabbie & Co Ginger Beer
John Crabbie & Co Ginger Beer.

Not to be confused with the ginger beer made by Crabbie’s (which is alcoholic, as Crabbie’s only make alcoholic drinks) – John Crabbie & Co is an entirely different company!

This ginger beer isn’t as super sweet as I usually like, but the spice level is just right (it makes me sneeze rather than cough!). I’d definitely have this one again.

Life without alcohol update: three months sober

It’s taken a while, but life without alcohol is gradually starting to feel like it could, sometime soon, be the new normal. During the first couple of months of sobriety I felt absolutely manic – I would swing between being absolutely delighted about the benefits I was already noticing and utterly devastated at the thought that I could never drink again, sometimes within the space of about thirty seconds or so. Things have slowly calmed down over the last few weeks, and I’m beginning to feel a bit more serene on good days and at least stable on not-so-good ones.


It’s still not easy, and I don’t think it ever will be. I’ve not gone a day without thinking about a drink yet. But I’m getting better at being in situations where I would have drunk in the past – the brief moment at bars when my mind goes straight to cider is getting shorter and less upsetting, and thinking of myself as an ex-drinker and saying to people ‘I don’t drink anymore’ is feeling less alien now. I’m starting to be okay with my glass of ginger beer, even when everyone else is having something alcoholic.

When I was drinking, I relied utterly on alcohol to deal with what felt like impossible situations due to my social anxiety. Three months into sobriety, this is still the most strange and confusing thing for me. The excess nervous energy I’ve had since I stopped drinking has resulted in an attitude of ‘must do absolutely everything I’ve been procrastinating about for my entire adult life IN THE SPACE OF FOUR MONTHS’, and so my life at the moment is non-stop with work, writing, pitching, playing music, marathon training, driving practice, and getting all those niggly annoying jobs done that have been put off for years and years. It’s great to feel like I’m actually achieving things – I would have been thrilled at Christmas if I’d known how much I would actually get done in the first quarter of 2019 – but it does mean I’m pretty much constantly out of my comfort zone, often in a social-anxiety-related way. I am hoping that this will calm down as the year goes on.

Booze alternatives I’ve reviewed over the last month:

My ginger beer obsession continues unabated, as you can probably tell!

I’m still listening to my podcasts and making use of online and offline support resources. I’ve also been reading a few helpful books on my Kindle, though I don’t have as much time as I would like for reading at the moment.

It feels for the first time like sobriety really could be something that’s manageable over the long term. I’m hopeful that month four will continue to feel relatively calm and stable.

Booze Alternative: Franklin & Sons Ginger Beer

Franklin & Sons is a soft drink brand that I hadn’t encountered until my trip to Inverness a few weeks ago. Geth and I found it in every bar and restaurant we went into while we were there, and have not seen it again since. It’s apparently a London brand, so I’ve no idea why I’ve only come across it in the far north of Scotland.

Anyway, I (obviously) tried every flavour, so you’ll be seeing a lot of their drinks in the next wee while.

Franklin & Sons Ginger Beer
Franklin & Sons Ginger Beer.

First up was the ginger beer, because my newfound love for ginger beer meant that this was obviously the one I tried first. It’s got the perfect level of spice! It’s quite sweet too. A really good ginger beer – I just hope I’ll find it closer to home sometime soon.

Booze Alternative: Schweppes Ginger Beer

Who knew there were so many ginger beers in the world? I didn’t. This is another one I discovered when Mum and Dad were in town last month.

Schweppes Ginger Beer
Schweppes Ginger Beer.

This one tastes kind of retro. I can’t really explain it. It just sort of…reminds me of something that I maybe drank a very long time ago, when I was very young. I think I need a few more of these to try and work it out.