Sober curious … why the low-to-no alcohol movement has become so popular
The low-to-no alcohol lifestyle is on the rise in Australia with statistics showing that it’s 18 to 24-year-olds leading the charge for a healthier attitude towards alcohol consumption. In a report released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2022, 23.9% of people aged over 18 had decreased their overall alcohol intake. This increase in “mindful drinking” habits is seeing rapid growth in the low-to-no alcohol sector with IWSR Drinks Market Analysis Ltd forecasting that the industry will grow by 16% in Australia by 2024. So, what are the benefits of lowering your alcohol intake, how is low-to-no alcohol made, and is the taste of booze-free booze living up to the hype?
There are a whole host of health and social benefits that come with lowering alcohol intake including lower calorie consumption, no hangovers, and beneficial antioxidants found in some non-alcoholic drinks. Of course, the key as with all things is balance and enjoying things in moderation, even no or low alcohol drinks because many wines and beers that have been through the alcohol removal process still contain sugar (sometimes in high amounts) and sulphites.
Most low-to-no alcohol options go through a similar process of alcohol removal. Most commonly the alcohol is removed using the spinning cone method. This is where the liquid is spun at incredibly high speeds, separating the alcohol from the other liquids. It can also be removed by boiling; however this method can drastically change the flavour and mouth feel of booze-free booze, so it’s not used in every situation.
It's a common misconception that alcohol-free beverages can’t compete in flavour and complexity. This is simply not true, as the industry grows (remembering it’s still early days in the Australian market) and evolves the offerings from distillers, brewers and winemakers will continue to expand. Of course, not all alcohol-free beverages are made equal, so our advice is to do your research, shop locally, and explore different options to find what suits your palette.