drinkNAB.com Blog https://drinknab.com/blog News and information from drinkNAB.com 5 Reasons Why You Should Drink Non Alcoholic Beverages in Lockdown https://drinknab.com/blog/drinknab-blog/2020-04-06-5-reasons-why-you-should-drink-non-alcoholic-beverages-in-lockdown With pubs and restaurants closed, people queuing around the block to get into a supermarket, and endless news reports of the grim reality that is CoronaVirus / COVID-19, one could be tempted to take to the bottle. The other day I went shopping  and it seems clear by the state of trolleys that many are doing exactly that. At first, we only joked that Prosecco or beer was an essential item, but apparently this brave new world needs some Dutch courage. But if there was ever a time to watch our alcohol intake, now would be it. 

Let me share 5 reasons why making the switch to non alcoholic drinks can help get you through lockdown. 

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1. Immune response

    Even moderate amounts of alcohol affect immune responses to pathogens. Whilst there is still much research to be done on this, alcohol is clearly no friend in a pandemic. Keeping your immune system in tip top condition is no guarantee that you won’t be affected by COVID-19, but with no medication currently able to combat it, it would seem reasonable to look after our inner treatment centre. We know that beer, for example, contains a great number of minerals and vitamins that are vital for our health. Alcohol though destroys Vitamin C and Vitamin B complex. Fortunately, with a great range of non alcoholic beverages on the market, we can still get the health benefits without the alcohol. If we are going to win this fight against this unseen enemy, we need to be at our healthiest. I'm also conscious that every bit we do helps ensure the healthcare system doesn't become overwhelmed. Maybe this can be a positive step for ourselves and for others?

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    2. Reduce calories

      With little to occupy those in lockdown other than binge watching boxsets on Netflix, and the fridge far closer during the working hours than usual, piling on the pounds has become far too easy for many in the privileged position of having a full larder. Lethargy and depression are not uncommon for those in isolation and it is understandable that there is little motivation to exercise when hibernating on the sofa until it all blows over seems tempting. Alcohol contains calories. Lots of calories. 7 calories per gram. To put this into context, pure fat has 9 calories per gram. Did you ever do the peanut experiment in school? Setting fire to a peanut to measure how much energy it produced stuck in my memory. Now consider how brandy burns on top of your Christmas pudding. If you’re not getting enough exercise, all of that energy has nowhere to go…

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      3. Improve mood and productivity at home

        Alcohol is well known to lower mood and reduce productivity. The body sees it as something that shouldn’t be there and reacts accordingly. I think we have to bear in mind that it is probable that we are all experiencing a fair amount of ‘culture shock’. This is a phenomenon that occurs when those patterns of life we are so used are disrupted. Missionaries gets this when returning from overseas. For us, everything is different. How to shop, how to interact, how to work. We are getting used to using video chat, queuing 2 meters apart to get into a supermarket, going out only once a day for our exercise, home-schooling with no playdates, and dealing with daily bleak updates - but it comes at a cost. Just like those returning missionaries, many of us are feeling unusually tired, and our productivity has taken a nose dive. Some say culture shock is responsible for as much as a 40% drop in productivity, though many of us at the moment may be feeling that number is substantially higher!

        This whole thing is stressful in so many ways and to add alcohol into the mix now, as tempting as it may be, is likely to exacerbate our poor mood and poor productivity.

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        4. Avoids dangers of alcohol dependency

          ‘I need a drink’ is a common phrase seen in many movies. The phrase has become synonymous with dealing with stressful situations. Does it work?

          The World Health Organisation estimates that in 2010 there were 208 million people with alcoholism – 4.1% of the world population at that time. Alcohol is a tremendously addictive substance that ruins health, families and lives when we become dependent on it. I have worked with alcoholics and their families and seen first hand the damage it can do. Most of those under the power of this drug started off with ‘I need a drink’, progressed to a daily evening habit, and then escalated to a serious addiction. Seeking ‘oblivion in a bottle’, ‘drowning sorrows’ or just ‘taking the edge off’ becomes a soul-destroying need that obliterates reason. Of course, I am not saying that everyone who drinks alcohol will develop a dependency, but put together stress over health concerns, lockdown, job uncertainty etc etc and you can seen how easily it could start. A colleague who has recently lost over a stone on Weightwatchers, said to me that she was starting to realise how much she was eating during the day...and also how much she was drinking. The occasional glass of wine had quickly been replaced by many glasses of wine on a daily basis. She was visibly worried about how quickly and easily this had occurred. She's far from alone. 

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          5. A pick me up

            Okay, so we’re not all drinking boiled water from the local stream yet. But it’s nice to have a beer / spirit / cider without the effects of the alcohol. For me, a glass of good beer is a synonymous with relaxation, enjoyment and a bit of luxury – alcohol doesn’t need to be part of this equation. Survivalists often discuss the need to flavour food and drink to engage our brains as well as our tummies. We may be in lockdown, but our taste buds aren’t! Recently I’ve been enjoying the NABs that I had waiting for me in the fridge. I’ve particularly started craving hops for some reason – maybe it just reminds me of the great outdoors of which I now see so little of. A case of Punk AF is now depleted and the Brooklyn’s and Heineken 0.0s are gone too. I wish I’d stocked up on Zot Sport – one of my favourites, and a case or so of St. Peter’s Without for those days when only malty ale will do. On the cider front, I’ve yet to find better than Holly Go Lightly for my personal taste, but I’m down to my last bottle of that now.  If you are a spirits drinker there are also plenty of zero alcohol options out there to pick you up and get those taste buds working. Unfortunately, all is not so good on the wine front. Belle & Co make some fine sparkling drinks reminiscent of wine, and Scavi and Ray is a pretty good Prosecco substitute, albeit on the sweet side. However, no-one else has yet sent me anything I could recommend to you. Sorry...

            Writing this article I am very conscious that in the grand scheme of things, what we do and don't drink is far less important than helping our neighbour through these uncertain and worrying times. Be it those working on the front line, those struggling to put food on the table and pay the bills, or those for whom isolation is so desperately lonely. now is the time to think about others and 'do our bit'. However, to do that we need to stay healthy in body and mind, and maybe just maybe these words may help a little. 

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            Alcohol Free Beer in High Street Restaurant Chains https://drinknab.com/blog/drinknab-blog/2020-02-10-alcohol-free-beer-in-high-street-restaurant-chains With so much press coverage being given over to Dry January and the increasing availability of non-alcohol beers, wines and spirits in our supermarkets, you could be forgiven for thinking than alcohol free was already mainstream. But step through any high street restaurant chain and you'll be hard-pressed to find a decent range of non-alcoholic drinks for grown-ups in almost any of them.

            Of course, the market dictates what restaurants will put on their menus, so as the alcohol free market continues to show strong growth we can expect to find an increasingly good range of non-alcoholic alternatives. In the short term however, options for those of choosing alcohol free may be a little limited. So, in an effort to help our readers make good decisions about where to spend their cash when they go out for some grub we've put together this handy list. This is based on UK high street chains who offer a non-alcoholic beer (at least advertise one on their website). We have also included links to the relevant reviews so you can make the best choice about where to go and what non-alcoholic beer to drink when you're there!

            In no particular order...

            Byron

            https://www.byron.co

            Byron was founded in 2007 by Tom Byng who, after a stint in America, realised there weren't any restaurants in the UK doing really good burgers. Years later and Byron is going from strength to strength, with restaurants all over the country. Byron offer a decent range of hamburgers, chicken burgers and now vegan options too along with a good choice of sides and deserts.

            Their drinks range is fairly small - they're a burger joint after all, not a pub. But they have good taste. And their non-alcoholic option proves it. Their only alcohol free beer has American roots and pairs nicely with their American food. 

            Brooklyn Special Effects

            drinkNAB head honcho Michael wasn't too impressed with Brooklyn Special Effects when he tried it, saying:

            Overall, it tastes like a fairly average ale pulled at your local pub - you'd drink a couple over a discussion of Brexit perhaps. It has one significant downside though - cat pee. The aroma reminded me of cat pee and once I had noticed it, that was all I could smell. This is presumably down to the citra hops and I know it doesn't everyone, but it really bothered me.

            But beer and burger officianado Jack thought it was pretty good - you can read his review here.

            Pizza Express

            https://www.pizzaexpress.com

            Pizza Express was founded in London in 1965. Pizza Express say their passion for Italian food can be traced back to our founder, Peter Boizot and his love affair with Italy. Peter was unhappy with the quality of pizza in London at the time so he shipped over an authentic oven and opened his very first restaurant on Wardour Street. Since then Pizza Express has become a fixture on many a UK high street and has retained its popularity, despite a bit of financial difficulty in recent years. For a few years they've also sold pizzas and dough balls in supermarkets which are also very good.

            Given that they've stocked Peroni for ever (as far as we know!) their alcohol free offering is not unexpected - Peroni Libera. And we also spotted a Seedlip Gove 42 on the menu too.

            Peroni Libera

            Michael says:

            A quickly dissipating head with a little aroma and a tight fizz, Peroni clearly wanted to keep this one subtle. Flavour-wise it almost hits the spot with a mild sweetness, but the tongue rather rejects the bubbly assault if you let it linger. Sadly it then fails somewhat with a disappointing worty aftertaste.

            You can read more reviews of Peroni Libera here.

            Café Rouge

            https://www.caferouge.com

            Café Rouge opened their doors in Richmond, London in 1989. It was founded by Karen Jones and Roger Myers, foodies on a mission to recreate real French dining in a Parisienne bistro-style setting. Rouge was also the favourite hangout for Bridget and friends in 'Bridget Jones's Diary', the novel that helped make them a household name.

            It's unfortunate then, that the French breweries haven't yet got their act together and produced a really good non-alcohol alternative to Stella or Kronenbourg. Of course, there's Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc, but not everyone likes a wheat beer. Where's the alcohol free lager? Hopefully it won't be too long before the big French names get in the game and produce some excellent alcohol free beer. For now, Café Rouge have played it safe - picking an alcohol free beer with a broad appeal and a name which like their own is becoming more well known when every passing year.

            BrewDog Nanny State

            Nanny State is a good alcohol free beer. It's widely available and BrewDog have managed to create something which, when required, hits the spot between a lager, a traditional and a hoppy IPA fairly neatly. It's not to everyone's taste and sure most people who've tried it would say it wasn't their favourite alcohol free beer. However, it's a wise choice for a restaurant wanting to stock a (very) limited range of alcohol free options.

            One of our community reviewers said:

            Nanny State seems like a fair attempt by BrewDog to create something with a broader appeal than some of their more citrusy beers. It's colour is certainly reminiscent of a traditional ale, and the flavour is fairly low-key compared to BrewDog's more popular alcoholic beers. However, it does deliver a decent amount of bitterness and definitely still packs a punch in the flavour department.

            And you can read more reviews of BrewDog's Nanny State here.

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            ASK Italian

            https://www.askitalian.co.uk

            ASK are another Italian favourite with family-friendly restaurants the length and breadth of the country. Their food menu is pretty extensive, but their alcohol free range is lacking. Unlike Café Rouge who offer quite a good range of delicious-sounding 'mocktails', amidst all the red, white and rose wine, cider and spirits, ASK only offer a fairly limited range of beers and only 1 alcohol free option. Fair enough, that's the same as everyone else really, except that there's no alcohol free spirit option (unlike Pizza Express) and only a couple of options in the 'mocktail' range (which aren't clearly labelled on the menu).

            Checkout our review and our community's thoughts about Peroni Libera here.

            Slug & Lettuce

            https://www.slugandlettuce.co....

            Fair enough, Slug & Lettuce are technically a pub who do food - but they are a widely recognised chain which is why we've included them in this list. They say, "Our high-street bars always have something going on! During daylight hours, we specialise in great value brunch and lunch deals followed by superb sweets to finish. Under cover of darkness, we transform into the perfect meet-up venue, creating the ideal atmosphere for a night of partying, dancing & chatting!"

            Given that they're a pub, we expected them to hold a wider range of alcohol free options, and sure enough they do. After a quick look over their menu we could easily see they stock the following alcohol free drinks. And I'm sure they'll do a decent line of alcohol-free cocktails at the bar too, if you know what to ask for!

            Gordons Ultra Low Alcohol

            Michael gave Gordons 3/5 for their Ultra Low Alcohol G&T a few months ago, here's what he said:

            I’m not sure what I was expecting? It’s quite expensive and therefore I was hoping for Gordon’s to have really hit the nail of the head. The taste is refined, subtle, and you can definitely remember the Gordon’s gin feel. It is a bit on the flat side though.

            Find out more about Gordons Ultra Low Alcohol here.

            Seedlip Garden 108

            We're yet to review it, so if you know what you think about Seedlip Garden 108 we'd love you to click here and leave us a review!

            Rekoderlig Strawberry & Lime

            Rekorderlig have proved themselves popular amongst cider drinkers in the UK over recent years, but unless you like a slightly artificial flavour and a lack of lime this one is probably not for you. Michael had this to say after trying it a little while ago:

            If you like strawberry shoelaces and singing 'Let it go', then this is the drink for you. A pretty pink strawberry drink that sadly doesn't seem to present much of the advertised lime. For those that want to relive their youth of tuck shop sweets, heartbreak and overly sweet perrume, this is the veritable DeLorean of drinks.

            Read more and leave us your own review here.

            BrewDog Nanny State

            We've mentioned this above. It's a good choice for a pub, but for a chain the size of Slug & Lettuce we were hoping for something a little more adventerous to go alongside this mainstay of alcohol free beer. Perhaps the range will grow this year - we live in hope! Read about BrewDog Nanny State here.

            Gourmet Burger Kitchen

            https://www.gbk.co.uk

            San Miguel 0.0

            At last, something a little different! GBK have a decent range of beers and ciders from a few lesser-known brands, as well as some big hitters like BrewDog Punk IPA. I can't help but feel that San Miguel just isn't quite the right choice for a burger joint though? Anyway, whatever the reason behind their selection, San Miguel 0.0 stands up well. You can read our drinkNAB review and community comments here. And if Spanish beer is your thing, you need to read our run-down of some of the most popular Spanish alcohol free beers.

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            Prezzo

            https://www.prezzorestaurants....

            Back to the Italians with Prezzo - another high-street favourite. They offer a limited range of beer, yet it spans a wide range of options - from traditional Italian fayre Peroni, to Speckled Hen (the normal one not the alcohol free version), and BrewDog Vagabond for those needing a gluten free option. They've gone for Brooklyn Special Effects as their current alcohol free choice - which we're pretty pleased with. I guess they weren't happy to go with Peroni Libera just because they're an Italian and I hope this'll pay of for them.

            Brooklyn Special Effects

            Here's part of one of our community reviews:

            I think this beer has been designed purposefully as a bit of a 'catch-all'. It's hoppy so the modern IPA fans will be pleased, it's called 'lager' so those looking for something familiar will know it's a safe bet, and yet I'd say it was definitely more of an ale than a lager - so your dad probably won't mind giving it a go either.

            Read more here.

            Tell Us What We Missed!

            This is not an exhaustive list. Details were correct at time of writing but are subject to change - any errors or omissions are not purposeful. Are you a representitive of a high-street chain? Or the owner of an independent restaurant desperate to let the world know that you're stocking a range of alcohol free options? Let us know! Send us a message on Facebook, tweet us or email us - we'd love to hear from you.

            We'd also love to see this list grow over the coming months, and we know the best way to do that is to vote with our cash. So, next time you're out for a bight to eat, take a look at the alcohol free options. And even if you're not driving, consider choosing an alcohol free beer over your usual, it's the best way to let the manufacturers and retailers know that there is real demand for low and non-alcohol drinks.

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            Just a spoonful of sugar... https://drinknab.com/blog/drinknab-blog/2020-02-09-just-a-spoonful-of-sugar As the wind batters the British Isles via Storm Ciara, I sat down with family for a mammoth mocktail tasting. Today or never, that's my motto. Some time later I'm pretty sure my blood sugar had sky rocketed up to the highest height, and I needed to check in the mirror that my teeth were all still there.

            Whilst some cocktails are of course very sweet, I'm not sure that justifies the spoonfuls of sugar that seem to go into their non-alcoholic cousins. There were a few good ones there - the Mocktails Mockscow Mule being a tasty example, but many are just too close to flavoured sugar syrup for my liking and really weren't practically perfect in every way as the marvellous bottles suggested.

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            A few were missing ingredients in the taste that were very clearly labelled on the bottles - perhaps suggesting some penny pinching in the lab or a lack of market research. I really feel there is still room in the market for someone to give us some authentic, quality bottled mocktails that the NAB community can be proud of. After all, everything is possible, even the impossible, and there's nowhere to go but up

            If you've been affected by too many Mary Poppins quotations in one paragraph, please note that there is no help available. Spit spot.

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            Press Release - drinkNAB Partners with Good Stuff Drinks https://drinknab.com/blog/drinknab-blog/2020-02-06-press-release-drinknab-partners-with-good-stuff-drinks My wife and I set up drinkNAB after discovering that non-alcoholic beverages are no longer the sickly, insipid drinks they once were. A friend started drinking some modern non-alcoholic beer and once I’d tried some I became mildly obsessed with trying to find the best of the best. This then led to looking for other non-alcoholic alternatives to spirits, ciders, wines, cocktails and good quality mixers and cordials. I struggled to find concise reviews in one place – the sort of advice you could check quickly on your phone before making a purchase…or not. Many gallons later, with help from our friend, Jack Barber, www.drinkNAB.com was born. It’s fast becoming the leading website to go for independent reviews of ALL non-alcoholic beverages not just from us, but from anybody that wishes to contribute to the NA movement by reviewing a drink. You’ll also find lots of information on our blog, the option to buy online from a partner (usually with a discount) and more.

            I met up for a chat with Tom, the guy behind GoodStuffDrinks.com in a wine bar/shop called Twisted Cellar in Bishop’s Stortford. Considering all the lovely wines that were on offer, it may surprise you that we both ended up ordering a decaff latte! Sometimes you just need a cup of coffee, right? Tom is such a great guy and is absolutely passionate about non-alcoholic drinks. His website sells some of the best non-alcoholic options around and is very easy to use. Therefore, where relevant, I’ve included buy online links that will lead you there. When you use these, or type in the code ‘drinknab’ at the checkout, you’ll get 5% discount. Nice!

            So, please do join us as we continue to…Raise a Glass to Non-Alcoholic Craft!

            Michael Phillips

            Founder of drinkNAB

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            Mindful Drinking Festival https://drinknab.com/blog/drinknab-blog/2020-01-21-mindful-drinking-festival Once more into the breach...

            I’m an introvert. Large crowds of people aren’t my thing, which considering that I regularly speak to large groups of humanity, is rather odd. If you gave me the choice between the best party in the world, and a quiet field, I would choose the tufts of grass every time. So along comes the Mindful Drinking Festival organised by Club Soda...in London. This is a chance to sample drinks and chat to those on the cutting edge of non alcoholic drinks making. I’d probably better go...


            Have I become Victor Meldrew?

            The health benefits of non alcoholic drinks - fewer calories, reduced alcohol intake etc etc are worth the journey, I tell myself. I take a big breath in, put on my headphones and board the train. I get on at Cambridge North where there are only a few lost and cold souls. Our next stop is Cambridge itself where it becomes clear that a great many people will be standing for this journey. It never ceases to amaze me why in 21st century UK this still happens. Surely it’s just basic maths? I wonder if the more difficult SATS papers can encourage the next generation to solve this problem. "If there were 300 people on a train, how many seats do you need?"The guy opposite is wearing headphones that aren’t channeling his rock music into his ears. I give up my seat so a dad can sit near his young son and daughter, but fortunately it’s a straight swap to one with a table. Thus I’m on my way, crouched over my laptop for fear of my arms or legs making contact with others. Someone has opened up an egg sandwich. At least I hope that’s what that smell is. What other nasal delights await me? Did anyone bring a can of sulphur dioxide? Any filled nappies near here? What about a nice mackerel salad?

            The train journey continues. Our eclectic smorgasbord of humanity packed into a tin tube, ricocheting over worn tracks, most finding solace in Apple or Samsung. I stare longingly at the fields moving by quickly outside. I should be happy about trains - their existence is probably the reason there are still fields outside rather than tarmac. But please stop the train, I want to get off.

            Don’t get me wrong. I’m really looking forward to meeting those genius chemists and tasting some fantastic products.


            Where to start?

            I’m a little at a loss as to where to start at the festival. Club Soda have managed to organise a huge number of companies to come along. Well done them! If this non alcoholic movement is to continue at its current pace, it’s going to require events such as this to get the word out. In my experience, most peoples’ first response to a mention of a non alcoholic product is ‘why?’, coupled with an incredulous look on their faces. I soon explain, but ultimately drinking is an area where experience triumphs over chat.

            I’m also somewhat nervous as to what today will do to my taste buds. I’ve never found large festivals the best for tasting as there is so much going on the senses become overwhelmed and sometimes fooled. I’ve written before about how mood, smells, and environment generally affect our sense of taste so this will be a case in point.


            Into the Fray

            Hammersmith line to Adergate East. Then a brisk walk through a part of London where the local wall artists could do with learning a thing or two from Banksy. Through the food hall (a mini Marrakech- yum - want to come back here again!), into Ely’s Yard and up some steps into the venue. A guy on the door reckons they had 10 thousand people last year, and are looking at 15 thousand this year over the course of the weekend. Hard to judge the numbers, but I would say it didn’t feel overcrowded and the event organisers had laid it out very well.

            It soon became apparent that my instincts were correct. As much as I would have liked to have gone to every stall, this just wasn’t going to be possible. Therefore I discounted anything above 0.5%, although I was intrigued by a 1% botanical so naturally had to try it.


            What did I find?

            Wines

            I chatted to representatives from Pierre Chavin and Lindeman’s about their wines and sampled a couple. The Lindeman’s alcohol free Cabernet Sauvignon was not to my taste - I’ve had similar fortified wine at communion and wouldn’t choose this myself. The Pierre Chavin Zero Rose was really interesting and not at all what I was expecting. They do a huge range so more on those when they send me some.

            Ciders

            There were two ciders I tried there. First of all, the 0.0% Drynnks Smashed Cider was quite frankly the closet I’ve had to NA scrumpy. A nice tartness with a reassuringly hazy body, I’ll be buying some more of this. Opposite their stand was Holly GoLightly 0.5% Cider. Interestingly, this is the base product from which Drynnks make their cider and so I wasn’t expecting it to be as very different as it was. Smoother and more delicate, this was a more refined cider that would be perfect on pretty much any occasion. I’ve still to try the Hawk’s Cider (owned by Brewdog) and didn’t have time to try the Strongbow Dark Fruit one, but I will review these as soon as I can. Overall, very pleasing to see an extended choice of good quality non alcoholic ciders.

            Beers

            I have brought home the full range from Nirvana. I’m told they have a new brewer and he has been tinkering with the recipes so it will be interesting to see if my review of the stout will improve. I fully intended to drop by the BrewDog AF bar whilst in London but due to the increasing haul of NA drinks, it soon became clear this wasn’t going to happen unless I grew more arms. I picked up a can of BrewDog Hazy AF to try later. I forgot to go back to Upflow to try their beer so that will have to wait for another time. I’ve reviewed many Big Drop beers, but hadn’t tasted their Golden and Hazelnut Porter before. The Golden is definitely a session ale and, rather than just being for the summer, I’m pretty sure it would go down well any time of year. The Halzenut Porter was absolutely delicious, but more on that in the review. Drynnks Smashed Lager was pretty tasty, and their Smashed Citrus Beer nicely unusual, though you wouldn’t want to have too much of the latter’s flavour in one go. They have the first on it’s kind alcohol removal machine in the UK - not entirely sure what the difference is but I will report back once I know. One surprise for me was Big Drop’s Lager on tap. I rather slated the bottled version, but on tap the mouthfeel and flavour seemed more drinkable. I found Infinite Session American Pale Ale to taste very similar to the bottled version - a fantastic beer all round.

            I had a good chat with the good people from AB InBev who had bought Becks Blue, Leffe Blonde 0.0 and Jupiler. It’s a shame they didn’t bring along Hoegarden 0.0 as I would have liked to have tried that. There are some exciting developments on the way from them but I’m sworn to secrecy - you’ll have to wait. Had they brought along their awesome Fransiskaner Weisbeer, I think they would have won many hearts and minds at this event. Adnam’s were there and confirmed that their current 0.9% Sole Star is being revised yet again to see if it works at 0.5%. Let’s hope it does! They’ve said I can pop and visit their Reverse Osmosis machine so I’m looking forward to giving you the lowdown on that in the future. There is another beer to try in one of my totes - one with a bear on it that I first thought was from Australia. Drop Bear Beer - that’s it. Turned out the founder was Aussie but the beer is British.

            Mixers

            I had a long chat with Jeffrey’s about their tonic syrups. They have now ceased selling the tonic waters, focussing purely on the syrups. I absolutely loved them and it will be interesting to compare these with their Canadian rivals whom my friends from themixologycollection represents. Would be lovely to see more of these around as they really offer something very special - the ability to mix your own tonic to the strength that you prefer.

            Cocktails

            Sipling gave me a sample of each of their range, as did ‘Mocktails’. Goodness knows when I’m going to taste all of these. Mocktails are bringing out a special Middle Eastern cocktail for Dubai, so I’m looking forward to that one when it hits the UK eventually.

            Spirits

            So I think I’m in love with Ginish. You would be hard pressed to tell that this was not alcoholic and indeed, both of their products made me feel a little drunk through association - weird. If you know why this is please let me know! The bite they have given it from the chilli is a lot more refined and subtle than some, and the usual gin ingredients shine through. Rumish was also rather good, though ruined my ability to taste other drinks afterwards - error. These Danish guys are bringing out more and more alcohol free versions of famous spirits and cocktails so do keep an eye out. Celtic Soul I enjoyed very much - for some reason, when mixed with a little ginger ale, I found it very relaxing. I tried some Amplify, but to be honest I’m going to need to try it again by that time my taste buds had gone on strike.

            Other

            Perhaps the highlight of my day was meeting the guys from Judge and Cucumber. Not only are they setting up alcohol free bars in a variety of venues, they are employing those down on their luck and ensuring they get housed appropriately. This has to be a cause worth supporting, and I urge you to check them out as soon as possible.


            Retreat

            So, laden with many a tote bag full of glass, tin and liquid I staggered back to the underground, caught the wrong tube, got off and on the return one, got on the right tube, got on the wrong train, then got on the right train, and finally sat down with my laptop with a rather nice but overpriced burger from Leon. After meeting some wonderful, passionate people, I’ve decided that maybe London isn’t so bad after all. Just please don’t eat egg sandwiches on the train!

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            Spanish Non-Alcoholic Beer https://drinknab.com/blog/drinknab-blog/2020-01-20-spanish-non-alcoholic-beer It would be fair to say that Brits have a certain reputation when it comes to drinking lager in Spain. Especially in the more tourist-friendly areas of the Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol and the Spanish islands.

            But perhaps that is that all about to change - and not least because Magaluf and Ibiza are clamping down on alcohol-fuelled holidays.

            The rapid growth of the non-alcoholic beer sector in the UK suggests there’s a huge appetite for 0% drinks, and the Spanish clearly know what they’re doing when it comes to beer ‘sin alcohol’ (sin means 'without' in Spanish).

            As awareness of the benefits of drinking non-alcoholic beer grows more and more people are giving them a go. As well as this, the adoption of 0% beers by travel companies such as easyJet suggests this is a trend that large companies are willing to bet on (after all, an airline can only carry a limited number of options onboard).

            With the biggest Spanish brands getting behind 0% beers, it’s clear that the Spaniards are all for a move towards 0% beer. And that can only be a good thing for European drinkers as a whole, given the popularity of Spanish lagers in general.

            During a recent family holiday to Valencia, I explored the range of non-alcoholic beers and radlers (shandy) readily available in supermarkets. Here’s the list of drinks I sampled - click the names to head straight to the reviews:

            And along with my reviews, you’ll also find some suggestions for things to do whilst visiting Valencia. It’s a wonderful city with loads to offer.

            Getting to and Travelling around Valencia

            We were visiting in January, when the weather was cool through the mornings but pleasantly warm in the afternoons (and much nicer than the UK!). We flew with easyJet from Luton to Valencia and then used Valencia’s excellent Metro service to get into the city and the EMT bus service to travel around the city and a littler further afield.

            Val 1

            Travelling with 4 young children is often quite stressful - especially in cities and abroad. But Valencia in January is quiet and easy to get around and we were fortunate to be staying within walking distance of Valencia’s historic centre and the wonderful Jardin del Turia which runs the length of the city.

            During my first trip to the local supermarket (a Consum), I was pleased to discover a decent range of 0% beers available by the can and bottle, and so began my Spanish 0% taste test.

            Amstel 0.0

            Refreshing Spanish Lager

            Amstel 0.0 Pura Malta is a refreshing, everyday kind of lager. Best served really cold and whilst enjoying some Mediterranean sunshine - if possible! The official information recommends serving at between 2 and 4 Celsius, no doubt because as the beer warms up it starts to taste a little less appetising. The good thing about drinking a 0% beer is that it can be consumed fairly quickly without worrying about the after effects!

            DSC 7642

            There’s some of that slightly odd alcohol-free taste hanging around amidst the maltiness, but there’s also a good amount of bitterness to balance the malt.

            As with many of the mainstream alcohol free lagers there’s an abundance of malt and drinkers of Amstel 0.0 will no doubt recognise a strong resemblance to Heineken 0.0 (they are produced by the same manufacturer, after all). I’m not a regular lager drinker, but I am sure I wouldn’t notice much difference between these two beers.

            Amstel’s 0.0 is attractive in the glass, bright and clear with a reasonable head and a light fizz. The packaging is great too. I bought mine in a can, but the bottle is similar with a rich blue and gold (contrasting with the red of the alcoholic version). It looks like a premium product, which I guess it is based on brand alone, but at around 40p per can (€0.54 from Consum in Valencia as of January 2020) it’s really good value.

            This is the kind of non-alcoholic option which could really help NA beer hit the mainstream, so get hold of some and share it with a few friends. It’s cheaper than the alcoholic version, and at less than half the calories your waistline will thank you as well as you pocket!

            Perfectly drinkable (when cold), I’d recommend Amstel 0.0 it to anyone looking for an easy-drinking 0% lager.

            3.5/5

            Gulliver Park

            Our children are still at the age where a holiday is judged on the quality of the play parks. Valencia scores top marks in that department with the highlight being the Gulliver Park in Jardin del Turia. Jardin del Turia is a massive town park (10km long). It runs around the north and east of the city, following the route of the river which was re-directed years ago to prevent flooding.

            Gulliver is huge. He’s lying down, tied to the ground by the Lilliputians, meaning that children (and parents) can enjoy clambering around all over him. The park is surrounded by a tall fence with only one entrance/exit point making it quite easy to keep track of your children as they climb about all over poor Gulliver. Highly recommended!

            DSC 8076

            Amstel Oro 0.0

            A Golden Beer with Complex Flavours

            Amstel Oro (literally, ‘gold’), is probably my favourite 0% beer from a mainstream brewery to date. I love the gold and teal packaging, which definitely stands out on the shelf and immediately gives the impression of a premium brand - and it did not disappoint.

            Oro

            It’s a rich golden colour in the glass, no doubt as a result of the roasted malt used in the brewing process. I think it looks far more appetising than a pale lager - more like an ale, but with a refreshing fizz. The head doesn’t stick around for long - but that’s not a deal breaker for me, especially in a lager.

            The flavours are far more interesting and complex than the standard Amstel 0.0, again coming from the drying and roasting process used in manufacture. This beer is a non-alcoholic version of standard Amstel Oro which I haven’t tried (so I can’t compare directly) but I imagine this is an excellent non-alcoholic alternative. The marketing blurb from Amstel make reference to ‘mocha chocolate or coffee’ flavours, which I’m not sure I got, but it’s certainly a tasty beer with far more going on than a standard lager.

            Amstel Oro was easily available in standard supermarkets (Consum), and was good value too. Should I find myself back in Spain anytime soon I’d definitely be stocking my fridge with a few of these.

            I drank mine straight from the fridge - and quite quickly as it was so tasty - so I can’t say how the flavour might change as it warms up a bit. Drink it cold and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

            4.5/5

            Valencia’s Oceanografic

            We spent a wonderful day at Oceanografic Valencia, which is the largest aquarium in Europe and regularly voted one of the world’s best. Being January it was very quiet, so we were able to enjoy all the exhibits in relative peace and quiet. The sun was shining and the whole place was very well kept and easy to navigate.

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            We used the EMT bus service to get across the city. It proved to be a very reliable and cost effective transport option of us throughout our trip (even though we probably could have saved a bit of cash by buying multi-journey tickets in advance).

            Adlerbrau Sin Alcohol

            A Subtly Flavoured Standard Lager

            This is a bog-standard 0% lager. The can says ‘ABV. Less than 1%’ - so my presumption is that it’s probably a 0.5%. There’s very little to find out about this online, there’s no mention of a website on the can, but at least the ingredients are mentioned: water, barley malt, maize and hops.

            DSC 8031

            Adlerbrau Sin Alcohol has a very mild taste. It’s not particularly hoppy, but neither is it overly malty (which makes a nice change from many of the non-alcoholic lagers). However, being neither malty nor hoppy leaves it rather bland. There was a subtle hint of those 2% French stubbies available in huge multipacks in supermarkets in the UK and across Europe - a memory of other holidays spent across the channel.

            It’s got a good fizz, and colour - it’s definitely a refreshing beer to enjoy on a hot day. I didn’t detect any odd flavours which are often lurking in standard non-alcoholic lagers, nor was there any unpleasant aftertaste. In fact, the overriding aftertaste was fairly bitter, confirming that I had just drunk a beer, and not some kind of weak-tasting savoury shandy.

            Based on packaging alone, I’d suggest Adlerbrau is at the more budget end of the non-alcoholic range. But, with most of the non-alcoholic cans available in our local Consum costing between €0.40 and €0.70, there’s really not that much to choose between them in terms of cost.

            So, there are definitely better non-alcoholic beers, but this is by no means the worst. I’d actually recommend it if you’ve tried a NA lager and can’t get along with the maltiness which seems so prevalent. It’s mild flavour would no doubt appeal to some, whilst putting others off if you’re looking for something more distinct.

            3/5

            Coffee at Un Cafe

            We love coffee and were delighted to find a fantastic little take away in Valencia’s historic centre. It is run by Danny (who speaks good English) and he is clearly an excellent barista. As well as excellent coffee also serves lovely hot chocolate with the option of Oatly which meant our dairy-intolerant son could also enjoy a hot chocolate. We’d heard Valencia was good for vegan food - and it was certainly pretty straight forward finding suitable options for him whilst out and about.

            GOPR2899

            If you’re visiting Valencia and enjoy a good coffee make sure you visit Un Cafe. What surprised us the most was the price - a takeaway espresso costing only €0.90 - and nowhere we saw charged more than around €1.30 for a takeout coffee of any kind.

            Here's a map.

            Ambar 0.0 Sin Gluten

            Without Alcohol or Gluten. Also Without Taste and Fragrance.

            In Spanish ‘sin’ means ‘without’, so you’ll frequently see ‘sin alcohol’ on alcohol free packaging, although it is being phased out in favour of a big 0% or 0.0% sign.

            This beer (though it can hardly be called that), from Ambar, is not only ‘sin alcohol’ it is also ‘sin gluten’. Now, don’t get me wrong, I know that alcohol free beer is niche enough - but add to that a requirement for gluten free and you’re heading into a very small section of the market. However, in my efforts to explore as many of the readily available 0% beers in Spanish supermarkets as possible I thought it was worth a try.

            It was not.

            DSC 8039

            I poured mine from the bottle it came in into a small glass. The tiny head that formed lasted all of about 2.5 seconds and then was gone without trace. There was a reassuring fizz, but that was of little comfort given that it was immediately obvious how disappointing this beer is.

            It tasted of, well, nothing much at all. And it didn’t smell of much either. I did detect a slight maltiness coming from the bottle immediately after opening but, like the head, this didn’t stick around once poured into the glass.

            Interestingly, having given it to my wife (who hates beer) to try, she remarked that of all the beers she’s tried this one was almost drinkable - presumably because it tastes of nothing. And even more disappointingly, because of the lack of flavour, all there is to let you know you’ve just consumed something is a rather odd aftertaste - a fairly unpleasant combination of that weird bitterness often associated with artificial sweeteners along with that chemical-like residue sometimes associated with not-so-nice non-alcoholic beers.

            What positives can I draw? Well, if you are in the gluten and alcohol-free section of the market and you’re in Spain and can’t find anything else, I’m this would prove refreshing on a hot day, although you might like to mix it with some lemonade to give it some flavour and mask the aftertaste. Under every other circumstance I think you’ll easily find something else far more enjoyable.

            1/5

            Science Museum

            The Museu de les Ciències is located in another amazing building designed by Santiago Calatrava. It's a huge building, surrounded by water, and it houses some excellent interactive exhibitions and experiences.

            The museum was split into a number if distinct sections, each with a different focus. As of January 2020, exhibits span space travel, the human body, the science in children's stories, human language, Nobel prise winners and more. We several hours exploring the exhibits and had a great day it. It's also incredibly good value!

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            https://www.cac.es/en/museu-de...

            Mahou Sin

            A Sin-sational Lager from a Spanish Favourite

            Mahou is not a brand I am at all familiar with. Some of their beers are available in the UK, but not everywhere. It definitely seems to be one of Spains best-kept secrets (I tried their alcoholic IPA the other day and that was really excellent).

            DSC 8035

            Mahou Sin is a standard lager - only without the alcohol. It does have a subtle malty flavour, but nowhere near as strong as Heineken 0.0. And whilst the malt is less evident, it is by no means without flavour.

            To me it tastes just as an everyday lager should and is best served ice cold. It has a good amount of fizz and is thirst-quenchingly refreshing. After a long day visiting Valencia’s wonderful Museu de les Ciències, followed by a run around in the equally amazing Gulliver Park (yes, parents are allowed to enjoy clambering all over Gulliver too!) this really hit the spot.

            Having tried the Amstel 0 recently I would say that there is very little to choose between these two brands in terms of flavour - which bodes well for the other Mahou I have in my fridge, the 0.0 Toastada.

            I hope we’ll see more of Mahou in the UK over the coming months and years - I’ll definitely be looking out for it, particularly in the alcohol-free section. I’d recommend this beer to anyone looking for a decent introduction to 0.0 lager, or needing a reliable offering for guests.

            This is yet more proof that when it comes to brewing really good non-alcoholic beer that appeals to the mass market, Spanish breweries really know what they’re doing.

            4/5

            Albufera

            Albufera is a national park area located south of Valencia which encompases a large lake as well as a beautiful stretch of coastline and nature reserves. We were limited by the bus service, so couldn't explore very widely, and being January it was very quiet with an obvious lack of tourist visitors. However, it was a very beautiful and peaceful place with some amazing wildlife and picturesque scenes.

            Relfection

            https://www.visitvalencia.com/...

            San Miguel 0.0

            San Miguel’s Refreshing and Award-Winning Alcohol Free Lager

            San Miguel 0.0 won the ‘Best Spanish alcohol free beer’ category in the World Beer Awards 2015. Not being a regular lager drinker I’m not sure I would ever choose a pint of San Miguel (alcoholic or not) given any other options from Germany or France. However, I would definitely opt for another one of these, should the opportunity present itself.

            DSC 8036

            There’s more than a hint of malt, but it is well balanced with a decent bitterness. It definitely feels like beer in the mouth - in a way which some non-alcoholic lagers struggle to achieve. After an afternoon exploring the back-streets of Valencia’s historic centre, including scaling the heights of the Serranos Towers, this was a thirst-quenching and welcome refreshment.

            I suppose I could have done a direct comparison with standard San Miguel. But, with past experience of comparing ‘like for like’, I know this would probably have resulted in disappointment. Die-hard San Miguel fan may not consider this an adequate replacement - just as Heineken 0.0 is not quite the same as the standard stuff.

            San Miguel is a well-known brand. And given the popularity of their lager amongst Brits I am sure their non-alcoholic lager could be instrumental in exposing many who ask ‘why would I drink a non-alcoholic beer?’ to give it a try.

            4/5

            Mercat Central

            Rated as a top thing to do when in Valencia we were not disappointed with our trip to Mercat Central. There was loads to see and experience and we enjoyed some fresh bread and traditional Spanish tortilla as well as some Valencian chocolate.

            Oh, and the beer stall is definitely worth a visit!

            DSC 8119

            https://www.mercadocentralvale...

            Mahou Sin Tostada

            Disappointingly Bland Tostada

            After trying the Amstel Oro, which also makes mention of ‘tostada’ on the label, I had high hopes for this beer. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to expectations. What a shame!

            DSC 8037

            The Mahou Sin is a really good standard lager, but I prefer something with a bit more flavour, having been a regular ale and IPA drinker in recent years. The Amstel Oro really makes the most of the additional flavours created by the drying/roasting process to make it distinct from the Amstel 0.0. Sadly, the Mahou Sin Tostada doesn’t really taste any different from the standard Mahou Sin.

            In fact, I’d say it was pretty bland. Yes, there are hints of roasted malt, but no more than a subtle suggestion. And sadly there’s a slightly chemical-like aftertaste, quite bitter (but not in a good way).

            Having heartily recommended the Mahou Sin, I’d suggest giving this one a miss - go for the Amstel Oro instead.

            2.5/5

            Bioparc

            Bioparc is a fantastic animal park a short bus journey from Valencia city centre. We had a fantastic day out, and while I'm not usually a fan of zoos and the like, Bioparc was really well done with very happy looking animals. We'd definitely recommend a visit if you're planning a trip to Spain.

            Val 4

            https://www.bioparcvalencia.es...

            San Miguel 0.0 Radler, Mahou Sin Radler (Mixta), Adlerbrau Sin Radler

            Best Enjoyed with a Large Measure of Spanish Sunshine

            Let’s start by stating the obvious: as soon as you add lemonade to beer it stops being beer, so I’m not really reviewing these as I would do with a non-alcoholic beer. Also, in the UK ‘radler’ isn’t really a thing. The closest would probably be a Bass Shandy (which I haven’t tried in decades) as a shandy in a pub would normally be a 50/50 mixture of lemonade with either lager or bitter, depending on preference.

            DSC 8221

            With all these things in mind I have lumped these 3 drinks together - as there is very little to choose between them. Given the right circumstance all 3 go down nicely. But, perhaps a bit like Sangria, radler will likely remain a mainland European thing.

            I drank the Alderbrau Sin Radler whilst sat in the sunshine enjoying a picnic with my family in El Palmar. This seemed the perfect situation in which to enjoy this drink - and it did not disappoint. However, because of rather obscure ‘less than 1% alcohol’ description I can’t say what the exact percentage was which may not satisfy the hardened NAB drinker! There was a pleasant bitterness (from the beer), which contrasted with the sweetness of the lemonade.

            The Mahou radler (with a rather alco-pop style ‘Mixta’ brand emblazoned on the can) is rated at 0.9% ABV so can’t really be classed as a non-alcoholic drink. But, for the purposes of research and fairness I was happy to include it in this taste test! I really enjoyed this one - there was definitely more taste of beer in this one and slightly less sweetness than the Adlerbrau and San Miguel (which I’ll come to next). Of the three, this is the one I’d definitely buy again - although I don’t think it’s available in the UK.

            Finally the San Miguel 0.0 Radler - the one with the biggest brand awareness (for me) and also absolutely 0% alcohol making it truly alcohol-free. It was nice - although I think that because of the subtlety of flavour in the San Miguel 0.0 lager the taste of the beer was almost entirely masked by the lemonade. That said, there was still an undercurrent of bitterness, like the other two it was obvious that it wasn’t straight lemonade.

            If you’re in the mood, I’d say try any (or all) of these. They’re all refreshing with a bitterness which tells you it’s not just lemonade. Given the right circumstances a decent radler is something to be enjoyed. And for those of us who have grown up with the idea of drinking alcohol in public spaces being ‘bad’, a can of radler feels far more acceptable!

            4/5

            Conclusions

            Spanish breweries have long been popular with UK drinkers. If the growing acceptance of non-alcoholic beers continues, Spanish breweries like San Miguel and Mahou look set to take their share of the market - and deservingly so.

            And if you're planning a trip to Spain and want to keep your alcohol intake low whilst enjoying a drink, I hope you'll check out some of the beers mentioned above and then let us know your thoughts by leaving a review here on drinkNAB.com.

            Jack

            ]]>
            Is Alcohol Bad for Seasonal Affect Disorder? https://drinknab.com/blog/drinknab-blog/2020-01-17-is-alcohol-bad-for-seasonal-affect-disorder What is Seasonal Affect Disorder?

            Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD for short), winter depression, or winter blues, affects thousands of people every year. Bought on by lower light levels, symptoms can be wide and varied.


            What are the symptoms of seasonal affect disorder?

            www.mind.org.uk have listed common symptoms as

            • lack of energy
            • finding it hard to concentrate
            • not wanting to see people
            • sleep problems, such as sleeping more or less than usual, difficulty waking up, or difficulty falling or staying asleep
            • feeling sad, low, tearful, guilty or hopeless
            • changes in your appetite, for example feeling more hungry or wanting more snacks
            • being more prone to physical health problems, such as colds, infections or other illnesses
            • losing interest in sex or physical contact
            • suicidal feelings
            • other symptoms of depression.

            I’ve included the links and would recommend browsing through their website. Sometimes it’s good to know you’re not alone!

            Fantasy 2964231 640

            What’s the cure for Seasonal Affect Disorder?

            Many , like me, who are prone to depression and/or anxiety struggle particularly in the short, dull days of winter. Yet, there are things we can do to help ourselves. Of course, exercise and healthy foods all have a huge impact on our mental well-being so it’s worth starting there. Talking about it is also helpful…but we’re often not very good at this are we? Light boxes or lamps I’ve found improve my mood. I use this product from Lumie as it looks like a normal lamp in my workplace. But there are also things we need to avoid - and one in particular….alcohol.

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            Why is alcohol bad for seasonal affect disorder?

            Alcohol is a depressant.

            www.drinkaware.co.uk states that "Our brains rely on a delicate balance of chemicals and processes. Alcohol is a depressant, which means it can disrupt that balance, affecting our thoughts, feelings and actions – and sometimes our long-term mental health. This is partly down to ‘neurotransmitters’, chemicals that help to transmit signals from one nerve (or neuron) in the brain to another.”

            Many reach for a glass of wine, beer or spirits to relax them at the end of a long day. Yet for the millions who are prone to the winter blues it does the exact opposite.

            Alcohol 428392 640

            What about non alcoholic beer / non alcoholic spirits / non alcoholic cider / non alcoholic wine?

            Non alcoholic beer, for example, often contains under 0.5% alcohol. In many countries, this is considered alcohol free. And there is a good reason for this - there is so little alcohol compared to volume of liquid that a healthy person just won’t be affected by it. A 2012 scientific study concluded that "even after consumption of unrealistically high amounts of non-alcoholic beer negative forensic implications are not to be expected.”

            In other words - it’s ok to drink 0.5% abv drinks if you are struggling with SAD. If you aren’t sure, our alcohol comparison calculator is coming soon. You may be shocked by what it tells you!

            Water 815271 640

            Are non alcoholic beers / spirits / ciders / wines healthy?Non alcoholic beverages are often much healthier for you than their alcoholic counterparts. They usually contain far fewer calories. Of course, filtered water is perhaps the most healthy drink, but let’s face it, most of us want something more.


            Does caffeine affect seasonal affect disorder?

            I switched to decaffeinated tea and coffee years ago as I found the caffeine increased anxiety and was a migraine trigger. I also avoid most soft fizzy drinks as they contain caffeine also. . Fruit juices contain huge amount of sugar. Squash tends to be rather synthetic. So, for a mental wellness mind-fix, I find myself enjoying a non alcoholic beer or spirit at the end of a day. No increased heart rate, no added anxiety, no worsened mood and a good night's natural sleep.

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            Are non alcoholic drinks bad for alcoholics?

            The jury is divided on this. Some say that there are too many cues found in non alcoholic beer and other drinks. Others say that it’s given them the ability satisfy their desire in the same way that a fake cigarette might help a smoker. If you are an alcoholic, my advice would be to reach for advice from a specialist in this area before a bottle opener.


            Can I drink non alcoholic beer / spirits / cider / wine when on medication?

            Always consult your doctor if unsure. There are so many medications out there that it is difficult to state with absolute certainty that all 0.5% and below drinks won’t affect you negatively. A buddy of mine recently went to the doctor and asked if it was ok to drink non alcoholic beer or wine when taking medication for depression. His doctor said that it would be fine. There are reports of some doctors even recommending patients switch to non alcoholic (<0.5%) alternatives.

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            What medications are prescribed for Seasonal Affect Disorder?

            My buddy was taking Sertraline. Sertaline, like Citalopram, is an SSRI - Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor. Seretonin is our happiness neurotransmitter and an SSRI keeps more of it in circulation. It is often stated that alcohol boosts serotonin in the short term, though a study in 2001 suggested this may not be the case. What it does seem to do is boost dopamine and fool the rest of our body that the alcohol is doing us good. In fact, it’s messing with our heads - big time. Many taking SSRI’s and other medications find that abstaining from alcohol completely improves their moods. They also notice the negative difference when they have an alcoholic drink again. Some have suggested that the issue is not the mix of medication and alcohol, but the toxic mix of alcohol and poor mental health. Either way, if you are struggling with Seasonal Affect Disorder, whether on medication or not, my advice is don’t drink alcohol at all. It’s not worth I when there are now so many great alternatives out there.


            How do non alcoholic drinks help?

            I don’t know about you, but when I open a bottle of good beer, or pour myself a nice spirit, it feels good. To do this with no ill effects, no messing with medications, and no negative effect on mood has got to be a winner. I'm also more likely to go out socialising if I know that I can drink decent alcohol free drinks.

            What alcohol free drinks would you recommend? 

            For beer, it's worth starting with the most easily available. For lager, Heineken 0.0 can be found in most places. Likewise, BrewDog's Punk Af and Ghost Ship Alcohol Free  are becoming more visible. For spirits, try Caleno with a Fever Tree Premium Tonic as a refreshing gin alternative, and Stowford Press for cider. Scavi & Ray Sparkling wine also hits the spot though it may be a bit sweet for some. Then I'd suggest having a read through our blogs, reviews and community reviews to find what other drinks might appeal. Conscious that many of you have Amazon Prime, we've provided Buy Online links to those Amazon sells to give you a starting point. You will find the non alcoholic sections in supermarkets and independents getting bigger. Online sites such as Drydrinker and Beerhawk also provide a great service and where we can't find drinks on Amazon we try to link to them. 

            Conclusion

            SAD is really rubbish and if you are going through this you have my heartfelt sympathy. Speak to someone about it when you can - a problem shared and all that. Get some exercise - even just walking down the road can help. Swap your alcoholic drinks for NABs - you'll never look back. Just remember....Spring is coming! Spring bird 2295436 640

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            What is Dry January? https://drinknab.com/blog/drinknab-blog/2020-01-03-what-is-dry-january Please note, this article is not aimed at those with alcohol addiction/dependency. Specialist advice for this can be found at https://www.drinkaware.co.uk and https://www.alcoholchange.org.uk

            What is Dry January?

            Dry January is a month where many people choose to  abstain from alcohol for a variety of reasons. 

            Why no alcohol?

            Christmas and New Years parties, family gatherings and (often) more free time tend to lead many to drink more alcohol than usual. By January, many feel the need to detox themselves a bit and reclaim a more healthy way of being.

            Beer 1607001 1920


            Does detox work?

            Abstaining from over indulgance is of course a good thing, and sustaining this over 4 weeks can lead to beneficial habits. For example, reaching for an alcoholic beer, spirit or glass of wine at the end of a bad day at work can become an all too familiar pick-me-up. Within a short time your brain has associated alcohol with stress-relief and you can start to crave it. A month out of this cycle and you have to find other ways, hopefully more beneficial, to relieve stress. Are you 'detoxing'? Not really. Where alcohol is concerned, this is a term that should really be reserved for those going through the difficult process of reducing dependancy. But you are being healthier, more productive and helping reduce risk of dependency.

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            Where do non-alcoholic beverages fit in to Dry January?

            The ever increasing range of quality NABs means that you and I can still enjoy the taste, without the harmful effects. Many people across the world, including myself, are now almost exclusively drinking NABs and loving the lack of negative side effects. The comparitively low calories in many is an added bonus! 

            What are non-alcoholic beverages?

            Europe and the US consider 0.5% or less alcohol as non-alcoholic, and the UK is considering adopting this also (currently 0.05%). Often, they are made in a similar way to alcoholic drinks, but through processes such as reverse osmosis or vacuum distillation the alcohol is then removed. Due to the additional processes required, non-alcoholic drinks can be more expensive to produce and whilst not all brewers and manufacturers have managed to keep the flavours, many have. it should be said that many non-alcoholic spirits never go near alcohol at all, and some boast of containing zero calories.

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            Final thoughts


            1) Try, try and try again. 

            You may have been put off in the past by non alcoholic substitues that really didn't deliver. However, things are getting better...much better. Read reviews, try some out and you may find yourself actively avoiding alcohol in favour of NAB alternatives.

            2) Ask the question

            It all boils down to this question - 'why do you drink?'  If the answer isn't 'to get drunk' then there a a whole world of NABs out there just waiting for you to discover. If those clever drinks chemists can remove the alcohol and still find a way of carrying the flavour, why drink alcohol at all?

            ]]>
            A Not So Merry Christmas https://drinknab.com/blog/drinknab-blog/2019-12-25-a-not-so-merry-christmas This year I have decided to see what happens if I go for the entire festive period without any alcohol whatsoever. I shall be adding to this over the next couple of days so keep checking in!

            Christmas Eve

            After the usual last minute packing, trips to and from the car after forgetting things, and a bit of "yes, Granny's house has got a toilet which you can use, but it's 3 hours drive away and you're going to the toilet here as well!", we set off for Manchester. Halfway, we stopped for some Costa baby chinos for the kids (lots of taste, not too much liquid...know what I mean?), and then I realised that I hadn't planned for this dry Christmas very well at all. In fact, I reckoned if wanted something other than orange juice and lemonade then I'd probably better pay a trip to Tescos next door. After realising they didn't have my beloved St Peter's Without (where has that gone, Tesco?) I chose a few other NABs, including a new one to me, Shipyard Low Tide Pale Ale, and we were back on the road again.

            On arrival at mother-in-law's I cracked open a bottle of beer. Yes, it was just after midday and if it was alcoholic I probably wouldn't have done it. I enjoyed the Shipyard very much indeed (review to come later), and then was able to work the rest of the afternoon with a clear head whilst the kids played with granny. My next task was to drive 70 minutes away to a place near Leeds and collect a bike I had accidentally purchased on eBay for my son. Now, had I drank any alcohol at all that day, this is not something I would have attempted at all and would have left this trip till the 26th. As it was, the M60 today appeared to be a cross between Formula 1 and stock car racing, with the occasional 40mph driver thrown in just to add to the chaos. It was unsurprising that my return route was somewhat slower with 3 accidents bringing out the blues and twos.

            Now, on returning to the house, on a Christmas Eve, in the past I probably would have cracked open a beer or had a whiskey - my own gran, God rest her soul, would have been no doubt drinking Babycham.  Instead, I found myself reaching for a vitamin drink and was able to go to bed early without alcohol-induced snacking (I even resisted the obligatory bite from Santa's mince pie and Rudolph's carrot!) and with no danger of poor, alcohol-induced sleep. I actually find myself looking forward being woken up ridiculously early tomorrow morning by shrieks of children that have 'sensed the presents' of a large intruder in the night. So far, so good.

            Christmas Day

            "Pleeeeasseee can the sun come up now Daddy, pleeeasssee?" says my little one at 5:45am. After stockings, breakfast and then bigger presents I crack open a Ghost Ship 0 at room temperature. Why I haven't tried doing this before I don't know - this is an ale that I think works best when not kept in the fridge. Was I thirsty? Not really, but my wife bought me a beer cap holder for Christmas and I wanted to start filling it. So, beer at 9:30am, followed by trialling of new Christmas bike (second hand Islabike - fab bit of kit), balance bike and bow and arrows in the park. Do I love the fact that I can enjoy a beer on a Christmas morning without feeling groggy? Absolutely. 

            Christmas Day Evening

            As I hadn't announced my reduced alcohol ways to our friends/family, I considered it wise to take a couple of NABs with me to Christmas Lunch. Therefore, today the only alcohol that touched my lips was that which remained after engulfing the Christmas pudding. Did I feel out of place? Not at all. I did discover via Twitter that Genesis' guitarist Steve Hackett was joining me in drinking Ghost Ship 0.5. Welcome to the club, Steve!

            Whilst I did enjoy a rather healthy portion of amazing Christmas dinner - I found the lack of alcohol meant that I didn't have 3rds of 4ths! Back to mother in law's house and I was able to play Hexbugs with the kids, and spent a good hour talking and listening to my two eldest boys - precious times - before they went to sleep. 

            Conclusion

            Christmas may not have been 'merry', but if was extremely enjoyable. I didn't miss alcohol - quite the reverse. Being able to keep a clear head helped ensure I was able to enjoy the day to its fullest, reduce my food guilt conscience, and spend quality time with my family. Would I do anything differently? Next year I'm going to find a good bottle of non-alcoholic Prosecco and add it to the mix.

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            Our First Radio Interview! https://drinknab.com/blog/drinknab-blog/2019-12-04-our-first-radio-interview Click on the link below to listen to the recording - or right click and save the file to your device:

            BBC Radio drinkNAB Interview 4th December 2019

            As Michael said in the interview, it's our aim to become a central hub for all things NAB and we're working hard behind the scenes to make that happen.

            We're going to have quite a few exciting announcements over the coming weeks as we begin to extend our focus beyond getting the website up and running. Keep your eyes on our social media channels and our blog to stay up to date with developments.

            It's been fantastic to have a number of new reviews added to the site this week from new members - we're really gratefuly to everyone who has taken the time to write up their thoughts and share their experiences with others. You are helping other consumers make more informed decisions - thank you!

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