A very overdue post but this relates to the Mindful Drinking Festival that was organised by Club Soda in January this year.
I hadn’t attended 2018’s summer festival, but January’s turned out to be quite spectacular.
Spread over two days and hosted in London at the Truman Brewery, the event encompassed a series of talks, interactive events and tastings of every type of alcohol free drink you could imagine.
I attended on the Saturday and it was packed with visitors. Given how rare it can be to meet a fellow teetotaller, I was in awe of the atmosphere everywhere. People crowded around drink stalls, laughing, clinking glasses and downing shots (of Kombucha). If you’d accidentally stumbled in you would be forgiven for thinking they were drinking booze. Except that no one was vomiting in the loo and the air smelt of aromatic drinks, not stale beer.
I even met Catherine Gray herself before listening to her eloquent discussion with Janey Lee Grace on The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober. All the talks I booked onto were well attended, so I’d recommend getting there early. For me, what’s truly great about the festival is how accessible it makes the AF drinks market. Despite increasing numbers of people in the UK choosing to cut down on drinking, it can be difficult to try many AF options out there. More pubs are stocking AF drinks now, but often this can be limited to just a couple of choices (It’s almost always Becks Blue).
There are AF specific retailers out there, but it can feel a bit of a risk to pay a lot on postage for something you could hate. By having all these retailers under one roof, it makes navigating this growing market all the more easier.
This 2019 festival will be on Saturday 20th July. More info here
My kitchen dresser inevitably became full from purchases. The range on offer was endless- from sophisticated soft drinks through to bottles of GnT that tasted surprisingly boozy, everyone was definitely catered for. With even more suppliers set to be at July’s festival, it’ll undoubtedly be brimming with attendees.
Some of my favourite drinks from the festival are listed below…
Top shelf of cabinet
Brewdog Nanny State 0.5%
My go-to beer in London as an ever-increasing amount of pubs and cinemas are stocking it. Very hoppy and rich in flavour. I never cared for nutritional labels in my drinking days, but this is surprisingly low in calories (approx. 26kcal for a 330ml bottle). Also available in cans.
At the time of writing this, Brewdog recently released a new AF version of their Punk IPA; wittily entitled Punk AF. It’s refreshing and not quite as intense as Nanny State. I doubt it will be long before this makes a big impact on the UK’s AF market.
Bottom shelf of cabinet
These were a winner for me.
Currently, the market for AF sparkling white wine is better than ever. Numerous brands seem to be on board with creating an alternative to the omnipresent Prosecco. In my drinking days I rarely drank sparkling wine, despite it being marketed to young women everywhere. I much preferred a dry (red) wine.
Alas, many of the AF wines on the UK market are still disappointing (too flat, sweet, watery etc.) so initially my expectations for Outfox were quite low. Thankfully, I was proved wrong and a couple of sips resulted in me spending a tenner on a box of their white Sauvignon.
Obviously, the bottle contents are what’s important here but having great packaging elevates the feeling that you’re buying into a bit of luxury. After all, I can’t be the only one who chose supermarket wine purely on labelling alone?
Unlike standard 750ml wine vessels, these are sold in a compact 330ml bottle. Which makes them equally as convenient for picnics in the park and a night in with Netflix.
Teetotal Cuba Libre
Available from The Temperance Spirit Company. For those who want to experience the exact same taste as Gin or Rum, these are the best I’ve tried. Their philosophy is pretty wholesome:
We’re “Dedicated to giving drinkers better choices without alcohol. We’re not anti-booze, we just wanted to think about non-drinkers too.”
Before retiring from alcohol, I was a big spirits drinker so understandably, I was a little bit nervous about these. Would they cause a trigger? Thankfully they didn’t, but the flavours of this Cuba Libre definitely matched its alcohol equivalent.
I also purchased their Teetotal G’n’T, which also replicates the flavours of a classic gin and tonic. Like a well-crafted gin, these contain natural botanicals.
Bottom shelf of cabinet: right hand side
I first tried this when I was interviewed by Jane Peyton for BBC Radio 4 in 2018.
We were sat at Redemption Bar in Notting Hill discussing the flavours of some popular AF beers on the market. I hadn’t even heard of Caleño until she presented a glass of it on the table, garnished with an Inca berry.
The citrusy flavours blew me away. Up until then the only AF “spirits” I had drank was Seedlip, so it was refreshing to taste something with a different flavour profile altogether. Caleño definitely feels more party drink- it has zesty flavours, with a little bit of sweetness thrown in.
We tasted it both with and without a mixer and I feel it’s much better served standalone, poured over a glass of ice (and Inca berries, if you can get your hands on them!)
A favourite of many opting to go AF, this is a solid alternative to a sparkling white wine. It’s blended with fermented grape juice and green tea, the latter of which seems to balance out the sweetness of the grapes. I found it doesn’t taste of Prosecco, but it does deliver on flavour.
Also available in rosé and can be purchased online or via most major supermarkets.