One drink that actually ticks the "as-satisfying-as-a-beer-but-is-not-alcoholic" box is Bionade, which is relatively new to the Aussie market.
Bionade is the brain child of a Bavarian beer brewer who wanted to create a brewed non-alcoholic drink that was 100% organically certified. Word has it he experimented for 10 years to come up with Bionade, which is still brewed with malted barley (hooray!) and has the added bonus of containing less than half the amount of sugar than regular soft drinks do. This is reflected in the taste- each bottle was subtly flavoured which allowed the brewed barley malt to still shine through. So how do they taste? Given the 10 years it took to finalise the recipe- pretty good!
Lychee: I love a lychee-based cocktail and this flavour of Bionade makes for a delicious non-alcoholic version. This flavour has a wet-leaf kind of smell, and a subtle lychee taste. It's similar to flavoured mineral waters, but has a barley malt back bone which adds another dimension to it.
Elderberry: Berry-based soft drinks can often be so sweet you need to down a litre of water afterwards, but while the Elderberry flavoured Bionade tastes the sweetest out of the four, it is balanced and refreshing without being sickly. Again, it's like a flavoured mineral water, but the fermentation process of Bionade is what differentiates it from other softies on the market.
Herbs: Now this one piqued my interest straight away- what other soft drink is herb flavoued? When I pulled out this bottle a friend instantly went, "ugh, garlic, chives and sage in a drink?" While the marketing of this one may be a bit off for some people, the taste won us both over on the first sip, and we can report that there was not even a whiff of garlic. Rather, this had a very slight aniseed flavour and had the tiniest hint of Jagermeister- without giving you the heinous hangover.
Ginger Orange: This was my favourite pick of all of the bottles on offer. The ginger orange tasted similar to ginger ale but again the barley malt made this bottle stand out as being a bit more interesting. The slight orange flavour also added to the refreshing nature of this bevvy.
Bionade originally reached Aussie shores in 2012 and has been seen around town in Sydney in organic convenience stores, trendy bars, cafés and restaurants. For the rest of us in other states, you can buy Bionade online or you may be lucky enough to see this retro bottle down at your local.
COMPETITION- WIN! WIN! WIN!
The peeps at Bionade have been generous enough to provide me with 3 lots of prizes to giveaway- each prize contains one of each flavour of Bionade (total of 4 bottles) for you to put your tastebuds to work.
To win one of these three drinks packages, simply leave a comment below on what your most creative non-alcoholic beverage concoction has been, and the top three tastiest suggestions will each receive a Bionade pack.
This competition is for Australian residents only, and the winner will be selected on skill. The three winners will be chosen at 5pm on Sunday 6 April 2014. Prizes will be sent by Australia Post. Please include your email address when you comment so I can get in touch. Good luck!
UPDATE: Winners for this competition have been notified and prizes sent. Thank you to everyone who entered!