19 of the Best No & Low Alcohol Brands
Hold on, It’s not January!
Not drinking is no longer confined to one month of the year.
The NoLo category is expanding, as more and more people are choosing to drink less or not at all. People, especially younger people, are becoming more health-conscious and sober curious.
It’s estimated that 20% of all adults in the UK don’t drink.
This is slowly beginning to be reflected in the composition of the drink’s aisle in your local supermarket and the menu at your favourite restaurant.
New options are popping up all the time and some of them are pretty good. Keep reading to see our suggestions for what to drink when you’re not drinking.
What’s ‘No’ and What’s ‘Low’?
The strength of alcoholic drinks is measure in ABV (Alcohol by Volume), which represents the millage of pure ethanol present in 100ml of a drink.
In the UK, low-alcohol drinks are classified as having an ABV of up to 1.2%. For a drink to label itself alcohol-free or non-alcoholic it must have an ABV of 0.05% or lower.
However, drinks under 0.5% are not subject to the licensing restrictions that affect alcoholic drinks.
Furthermore, in the US and most of Europe, drinks can be labelled as alcohol-free up to 0.5% ABV and European beers don’t have to change the terminology on their packaging when they’re exported to the UK.
We were too. You can visit Drinkaware for more information about the definitions and laws surrounding NoLo drinks.
The drinks in this article are a mix of no & low alcohol, so be sure to double-check the ABV of each product if you’re avoiding alcohol completely.
Why Can Drinks Call Themselves ‘Alcohol-Free’ When They Contain Alcohol?
This might seem strange at first but when you consider that an over-ripe banana can have an ABV of up to 0.5% it puts into context just how small that amount of alcohol is.
Are No and Low Drinks Better for you?
With the wellness trend continuing into 2020 many people are reassessing their drinking habits.
It’s well known that drinking alcohol can have negative effects on your physical and mental health, especially if you overindulge. So drinking less alcohol isn’t going to negatively affect your health.
However, that’s not to say that non-alcoholic alternatives are inherently good for you by virtue of being non-alcoholic. Although, unlike alcoholic drinks, they are allowed to claim health benefits in their advertising.
How are they Different from Soft Drinks?
You might be wondering at this point if soft drinks like lemonade or orange juice count as No and Low drinks.
Technically, yes they do as they don’t contain alcohol.
However, there are a few things that differentiate No and Low drinks from soft drinks which explains why lime and soda hasn’t made it into our recommendations.
They’re Made to Imitate Alcohol*
*At least some of them are.
If you go to the pub and order a lemonade when everyone else is drinking pints you might feel like the odd one out. No & low drinks are designed to put a stop to feeling like an outsider on these occasions.
Non-alcoholic beers, wines and spirits can look and taste just like their alcoholic cousins. But they won’t get you drunk.
They have ‘Complicated’ Flavours
Not all non-alcoholic drinks imitate alcoholic ones. Some are original concoctions with complex tastes designed to appeal to adults as a more interesting alternative to soft drinks.
Kids might be allowed to have them (more on that below), but they probably wouldn’t like them.
They’re flavoured with things like ginger and hops and botanicals. Not what appeals to your average teenager. There’s a reason most people start out drinking alcopops.
You Might Need your ID to Buy One
In many bars and shops, nolo drinks are treated in the same way as alcoholic ones. Which means, if you’re lucky enough to look young, you might need your ID to buy one.
There are 2 main reasons for this.
- To avoid promoting alcohol to children. Stopping young people buying the non–alcoholic versions means they’re less likely to develop a taste for the real deal early on.
- To make it easier to enforce rules regarding alcoholic drinks. As we mentioned above, some no & low drinks are designed to look like the real things. If they’re treated the same it’s less confusing for staff trying to enforce licencing restrictions.
This isn’t the law. But these policies are enforced in most large supermarket chains, pubs and restaurants.
The Best New Brands
This isn’t our first guide to non-alcoholic drinks but the market’s been busy, so we’ve got lots of new recommendations.
Seedlip was the first brand to break into the market, but nowadays it’s by no means the only option.
Clean Liquor Co.
Spencer Matthews in one of a growing number of celebrities to have their own drinks brands. The only difference is his drinks are low abv.
Matthews felt that describing the products as ‘clean’ promoted a positive approach to no and low alcohol. It makes for an easier bar call and more sense for people, like him, who drink less, or not at all as part of a cleaner lifestyle.
The Clean Liquor Co. strives to produce products that represent their values; complex and beautifully produced liquids in stunning bottles that will stand the test of time as classic drinks.
Currently available in CleanRum and several flavours of CleanGin. All their spirits are 1.2% ABV
With the rise of social media, the founders of Stryyk realised that the days of drinking and dancing like no one’s watching were coming to an end. The desire to go out and have fun hadn’t left them, but they were no longer willing to feel awful the next day in exchange for their fun.
The issue? Everything on offer meant compromising on something important.
So, they set about fixing the problem. After years of development and many, many taste tests, they launched Stryyk.
Stryyk’s spirits are created to act just like their alcoholic counterparts and swap easily into your favourite cocktails so you can what normally drink where you normally drink it. They have all the spirit and none of the alcohol!
Their range includes Not Gin, Not Rum and Not Vodka all of which are 0.0% ABV.
Alcohol has long been a wingman of connection, but, in the modern age, the botanists, bartenders, hedonists, herbalists and artists who created Three Spirit believed it was time there was a better way to feel good. One that didn’t ruin Monday, or mean settling for soda on a night out.
Three Spirit produce plant-based alternatives to alcohol that celebrate what you put into a drink, rather than what you take out. Their alchemy inspired drinks combine plants used for centuries in ceremonies and potions to stimulate the palate, mind and body.
They currently have three spirits available: Livener, Nightcap and Social Elixir. All their spirits are non-alcoholic.
Founded in Australia, Lyres launched in the UK in 2019. Borne from a quest to give you the freedom to drink your way. Not just to provide an alternative for those who don’t want to drink, but to ensure everyone can enjoy the mirth and merriment of shindig.
They craft their spirits to taste like the classics they’re modelled on and offer the broadest range of No and Low spirits we’ve found. From Gin to Absinthe: you can recreate pretty much any drink you’d like with them.
They currently offer 13 different varieties of ‘spirit’ all of which are non-alcoholic.
The philosophy behind ISH is mindful drinking. Inspired by ‘what if we could enjoy our favourite social drinks and be a bit more considered with what we put in our bodies.
ISH is not about what it’s not. It’s about what it is.
A choice to be social but also sensible. To be playful but mindful. That’s why they decided to make a truly free spirit. So, you can say yes to ‘let’s grab drinks’, while still making mindful decisions about you consume.
Their line up currently consists of Rumish and Ginish which are also available in RTD form. ISH spirits contain less than 0.5% ABV.
The journey towards Pentire began with a love of coastal living. Founder, Alistair Frost wanted to bottle the experiences and flavour – a drink that could be enjoyed in a bar, pub, restaurant as well as somewhere wild and remote.
Pentire is a botanical non-alcoholic spirit, made from plants unique to the Cornish coastline. Through research and experimentation with local botanists, distillers and brewers they have created a non-alcoholic spirit that captures the botanical range and flavours of Cornish flora.
Their choice to make a non-alcoholic offering stems from their belief in adventure, exploration and independence and being ready, come dawn or dusk, for the activities that excite, challenge and fulfil you.
Everleaf is a non-alcoholic aperitif sourced sustainably from nature. It was created in 2019 by bartender and conservation biologist, Paul Mathew, who was inspired to combine his two passions and create a drink that embodied both.
He chose to make something non-alcoholic to give people more choice but also to reflect the concept of sustainability – sustainable consumption as well as sustainably source ingredients.
Everleaf is made up of 18 different plants chosen to impart complex and delicate flavours as well as an unrivalled texture for the no-alcohol category. Aromatic and bittersweet, it is designed to be mixed with light tonic to create a refreshing spritz, as a base for cocktails or even sipped neat over ice.
Sometimes called ‘near beer’, this is the most established no-alcohol category. Though in 2019 they still made up less than 5% of the beer market, half of all Brits say they’ve tried an alcohol-free beer.
A lot of the big players in the beer industry make non-alcoholic versions of their product. You’ve probably heard of a few: Becks Blue, Heineken Zero and Brew Dog Nanny State.
We’ve put together a selection that you might not have discovered yet but that are just as tasty as their mainstream competitors.
Big Drop was launched in 2016 by the-then city lawyer, Rob Fink and long-time friend James Kindred. Both had recently become fathers and were looking to cut back on the booze but couldn’t find any decent alternatives to their favourite craft beers.
They’re craft brewers first and foremost which means they strive to make great tasting beer. It just happens to be alcohol-free.
Big Drop contract brews in batches through a network of brewing partners worldwide which means it can produce its beer locally and ethically with a minimal carbon footprint.
Its range of craft beers, which are all <0.5% ABV, consists of Stout, Lager, Pale Ale, IPA, Brown Ale, Golden Ale, Hazelnut Porter and a Sour as well as special editions and collaborations.
Moderation isn’t the dirty word it once was.
Before Lucky Saint, founder Luke Boase always felt the proposition of an alcohol-free beer was so compelling, but the reality was disappointing. He couldn’t find an alcohol free beer that he genuinely enjoyed drinking or a brand that made him feel good about choosing a no/low option.
He quit his job and travelled 7,642 miles, tested 56,628 litres of beer and spent 741 days in research and development to create the Lucky Saint recipe – a refreshing, 0.5% Pilsner-style lager.
Lucky Saint is born of just four natural ingredients – Hallertau hops, Pilsner malt, Bavarian spring water and their own single-use yeast. The combination of quality ingredients and a unique vacuum distillation process, which allows the beer to remain unfiltered, results in a full-bodied biscuity malt flavour with a citrus finish that tastes just like, if not better than the real thing.
In the early 2000s, the craft beer revolution changed the beer market forever. Since 2019, Coast Beer has been on a new mission, to shake up the world of alcohol-free beer by making quality craft versions.
They think design plays a key role in the experience of craft beer and so it’s a pivotal part of their beers. They were fed up seeing those awful blue labels that warn that it’s a non-alcoholic version of a mainstream brand.
As independent brewers, they were free to design their bottles however they liked. The wide eye on their cans represents being fully awakened – present – sober.
Their expanding range is all 0.3% ABV or lower.
Lowlander beers were created in the Netherlands, which literally means the ‘Low Lands’ as much of the land is below sea level. In the olden days the ‘Lowlanders’ traded all over the world, this inspired the founders of Lowlander to explore the world of herbs, spices and fruit, and use these botanicals to create their beers.
Long before hops were used to flavour beer it was common to add flowers, herbs, roots and spices, harnessing the abundance of nature to make beer more enjoyable and this is a practice that Lowlander have revived.
They offer a range of flavours and strengths of beer from low alcohol IPAs to a non-alcoholic Witbeir.
Drop bears might not be real, but this low-alcohol beer certainly is.
Starting with a big saucepan and a jam thermometer Drop Bear has come a long way. Form long nights and an exploding fermenter, to award-winning beers.
They’re on a mission to revolutionise your perception of low ABV beers and prove that you don’t need alcohol to have fun. Their beers are traditionally brewed with natural ingredients by a team of beer-loving masterminds.
They currently offer a Tropical IPA (0.3%), a Yuzu Pale Ale (0.4%) and a Bonfire Stout (0.5%).
Small beer was a staple of British daily life in the 1700s. When it was dangerous to drink water, people drank low-alcohol beer instead. With the provision of clean drinking water in the 19th century, small beer was no longer needed, and the art of its creation was lost.
The Small Beer Brew Co. is reinvigorating the tradition.
Though they’re inspired by the past, Small Beer Brew Co. is looking to the future. Sustainability is at the heart of the business. They’ve drastically cut their water usage, all their electricity is from wind, sun and sea and all their packaging is recycled.
4 types of Small Beer are currently available and their ABV ranges from 1-2.8%.
Interested in finding out about other sustainable brands? Check out this article.
Ready To Drink
The RTD category is still growing, which isn’t surprising given the fact they’re cheap and easily transportable and the choice of drinks is still expanding.
Highball Cocktails was founded by husband and wife team Red and Kate Johnson in autumn 2019. They realised they had an opportunity to create something different: a range of ready-to-drink classic cocktails with an alcohol-free twist. The name was easy, it’s the icon for stylish cocktails around the world and perfectly reflects their brand.
They believe that making an alcohol-free choice shouldn’t involve compromise, whether that’s on taste, ingredients or calories. They are determined that their drinks taste as good as the “real thing” as it seemed to them that while there are lots of ‘mocktails’ available, they are often fruity or overly sweet.
In the range so far: Classic G&T, Pink G&T, Cosmopolitan, Mojito, Ginger Dram and Italian Spritz all of which are 0.0% ABV.
Dalston’s was set up by ex-chef Duncan O’Brien who was on a mission to make fizzy drinks that actually tasted like what they’re made of. Sourcing local ingredients, O’Brien honed his skill for mashing, blending and creating great-tasting drinks within Dalston’s converted archway manufacturing site.
The main variety of drink produced by Dalston’s is fizzy water, but they also produce low-alcohol (less than 0.5% ABV) G&Ts using a blend of distilled botanicals including juniper, coriander seed and lemon balm.
And, rumour has it, they have a range of hard seltzers coming soon!
Launched in 2019, Punchy began with a belief that the best drinks can transport you somewhere else for a moment.
Each drink has a depth of flavour, its own character, and is a ticket back to a special time. Often to places where you have salty hair and sand between your toes, or to carefree times with great food, music, dance and friends.
In a world of sugary, eco-unfriendly, artificial, and unadventurous drinks they thought it was time for something better. With a promise never to cut corners, Punchy uses the best ingredients, their products are 100% plastic-free and recyclable.
Flavours include: Holiday Romance – Peach, Ginger & Chai, First Dip – Cucumber, Yuzu & Rosemary and Golden Hour – Blood Orange, Bitters & Cardamom
Best of the Rest
Gimber is a delicious concentrate based on the best Peruvian organic ginger with a subtle hint of lemon for an aromatic, refreshing taste.
Founder, Dimitri Oosterlynck, got fed up with the only choices being alcohol, soft drinks with too much sugar or water and went on a quest for an alternative.
The result was Gimber, an alcohol-free concentrate.
It was so good that friends and neighbours began to ask for it, and in 2018 it became available commercially. The rest is history.
Developing it as a concentrate was an ecological decision to reduce the transportation of ingredients. Turns out it’s great this way because it means you can make up your own recipes, using it for both drinking and cooking!
As we recently published an article on hard seltzers it seemed prudent to include the soft version in our list of the best No and Low drinks.
Beyond quenching your thirst, Ugly aims to celebrate the real, the raw, the imperfect. They’re about that unshopped, unfiltered life.
They’re less a brand and more a vibe built on honesty, inclusivity and good times. They’re all about transparency – because the truth can be ugly.
That’s why their drinks contain no sugar, no sweetener and nothing artificial – just fun flavours, bubbles and refreshing H2O
Currently available in Tropical, Peach, Lemon and Lime, and Triple Berry. It’s sparkling water, no alcohol involved.
Pronounced as if you were saying ‘Toast’ with a fantastic foreign accent, Töst is a pure and delicious dry sparkling drink of white tea, white cranberry and ginger.
It’s for every occasion where someone is looking for a drink that is alcohol-free, all-natural, low calorie but still delicious. It stands for good times with good friends who make good choices and experience good taste. It can be shared by anyone, anytime, anywhere to celebrate life’s moments.
In other words, it’s the perfect product to use for a toast.