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A guide to beer alternatives

Are you all beered out and looking for some inspiration? Let’s take suds off the menu tonight and reach for some beer alternatives.

Are you all beered out and looking for some inspiration? Let’s take suds off the menu tonight and reach for some beer alternatives.

Emergency Disclaimer: we love beer at Drizly. Beer is a mystical beverage that transcends cultures and enriches the human experience. Our office pet is a hop plant. Having said that, sometimes we all get beered out. Luckily, there are plenty of beer alternatives. Open your heart and let some non-beer beauties into your life. Let’s mine Drizly for some fresh ideas and tasty alternatives to your favorite beer styles.

What’s an alternative to sour beer?

Hard Kombucha

Kombucha is traditionally non-alcoholic (less than .5% ABV), but bucking tradition has never been a problem for crafter brewers. Now you can find crisp, tart kombucha with both alcohol and without.

What does hard kombucha taste like?

The essence of all kombucha is bright, mouthwatering sourness. Lighter sour beers (kettle sours, Berliner Weisse) have the same kind of draw. Kombucha flavor swaps out the grainy malt flavors of beer and hits you with refreshing flavors of ginger, berries and tea. The producer chooses both the tea and the flavoring, but popular flavors are pineapple, citrus and rose-like offerings. Hard kombucha will move you out of your comfort zone but you’ll eventually end up expanding it.

What’s a non-beer substitute for belgian wheat?

Farmhouse Hard Cider/Pear Cider (Perry)

If you’re looking for a friendly break from your belgian wheat ales, you can find relief in farmhouse-style ciders. Some farmhouse ciders use a similar Belgian yeast for their fermentations. This plucky yeast doesn’t mind if it’s chowing down on barley malt sugars or apple juice; it’ll ferment whatever’s available.

What does a farmhouse cider taste like?

Belgian yeast makes for belgian flavors. Farmhouse ciders are often estery, fruity/funky, and slightly tart. A great example is Citizen Cider’s Wit’s Up. It’s crisp, zippy and has similar fruity, spicy belgian yeast character that has made belgian wheat ales so popular.

Pear Cider

A slightly sweeter alternative to your favorite belgian wheat is pear cider. Pear ciders tend to be sweeter and less acidic than apples (check the can to confirm sweet/dry levels, of course), showcasing their light, floral deliciousness. This makes for a nice, approachable cider that’ll help you stir things up without knocking your palate out of whack.

What’s an alternative to light beer?

Hard Seltzer

Much like Barry Manilow, many of us initially enjoyed hard seltzer slightly ironically - until we realized we were actually loving it. There’s nothing left to do but lean into it. After all, it really is a great, refreshing substitute for your favorite light beer.

How is hard seltzer similar to light beer?

There’s plenty of variety out there right now, but hard seltzers all have a unifying concept: drinkability. They’re usually low on ABV, low on calories and extraordinarily light-bodied, so you can enjoy several of them and still enjoy whatever else you’re doing. Kind of reminds you of your favorite light beer, right?

How is hard seltzer different from light beer?

The biggest difference is the flavoring. Hard seltzer serves as a boozy base for fruit flavors like lemon, mango, or berries. Light beer still has that signature grainy flavor, so you’ll lose some of that with seltzer.

Does hard seltzer have fewer carbs and calories than light beer?

It’s certainly looking that way. Bud Light, for example, has 110 calories and 6.6 grams of carbs per 12 oz, whereas Bud Light Seltzer has 100 calories and 2 grams of carbs. At 5% ABV, it’s actually .8% stronger than Bud Light. What kind of sorcery is that?

What’s the lowest ABV hard seltzer?

The lowest we’ve seen so far is White Claw 70, which clocks in at a miniscule 3.7%. If you’re taking it REALLY easy tonight, this could be your jam. Classy seltzer Bon V!v is pretty close to the standard light beer ABV at 4.5%.

Are hard seltzers all gluten free?

Most hard seltzers we’ve seen are indeed gluten free because they use cane sugar for fermentation instead of grains. Now there’s nothing stopping folks with gluten sensitivities from joining the party. Obviously, make sure to check the can to confirm it’s GF.

What’s the best hard seltzer?

That’s a tough one. White Claw (5% ABV) has certainly made a strong early push for dominance, but Bud Light is coming on strong with some great variety and a lemonade option that’s quite refreshing. We’re afraid you’re going to have to dive in yourself and find your fave, friends.

What’s an alternative to a hazy IPA?

Unfiltered cider/dry-hopped cider

Hazy IPA’s have a lot of appealing characteristics to modern tastes, but their soft, full mouthfeel is a key asset. Cider has the same potential. Unfiltered cider has the same mysterious haze as your favorite hazy IPA, as well as a full, naturally round mouthfeel. Your tastebuds will swear it’s cider, but your eyes and mouth will say it’s a hazy IPA. Angry Orchard Unfiltered is a good place to start.

Dry-hopped cider

Hops are a multi-beverage threat nowadays. They’re in your beer, of course, but tropical, fruity strains like Mosaic hops are showing up in ciders and even kombuchas. Try a dry-hopped cider like ACE Hazy Hop to get a hoppy, but definitely “cidery” riff on the hazy IPA.

Non-alcoholic alternatives for beer styles

Going non-alcoholic tonight? Never fear. The non-alcoholic beer category is so much better than it once was.

What’s a non-alcoholic replacement for a dry Irish stout?

Until recently, you were pretty much out of luck here, but newcomers Athletic Brewing Co. have come up with a stout that’ll satisfy your urge for something roasty/toasty signature stout flavor with less than .5% alcohol. 

What’s a good non-alcoholic IPA?

Athletic Brewing strikes again here with their Run Wild IPA. They’ve used a blend of some of our favorite West Coast hops to craft a wonderfully aromatic IPA that really doesn’t feel like a compromise. If you’re jonesing for hop flavor and no alcohol, we should also mention Lagunitas’s Hop Refresher Sparkling Water. It’s not an IPA, but it’s a great alternative and comes from a brewery that really has a handle on their hops! Bonus: 0 carbs. Zero.

What’s a good non-alcoholic lager?

Lager flavors are so delicate that a non-alcoholic lager used to be tough to find. We’ve found that Beck’s Non-alcoholic has a lot of nice grainy pilsner character and hop balance. Additionally, if you’re a Heineken fan, the new Heineken 0.0 tastes so much like the real thing it’s almost suspicious. We’d love to figure out how they pulled that one off.

Beer is the most laid-back and forgiving of all the beverages. It will forgive you if you want to branch out and try something different. Maybe tonight’s the night to get creative. Check out our liquor store partners for some great beer alternatives!