Function and flavour key for alcohol-free drinks

18 May 2021, 09:18 AM
Function and flavour key for alcohol-free drinks

Drinking alcohol is a social ritual that is deeply woven into our culture. For those who are moderating or are teetotal, suddenly breaking away from a thousand-year-old tradition without any alternatives or ‘social prop’ makes it very difficult. No/low alcoholic drinks serve as a much-needed replacement that reminds us of the familiar, without any negative health implications that come with alcohol.

A good way to think about what consumers are looking for in their low and no alcohol drinks is to recall what it was like having your first sip of alcohol. You were probably quite excited to try this drink that you see all the adults having, but when you actually try it –  if it wasn’t a sweet drink – you must have been disappointed.

That’s because at the beginning we never drank for flavour alone, but for the function that alcohol provides.

The latter is what we are trying to capture at Impossibrew Co. With a great team and some really talented brewers, not only did we make a great tasting low-alcohol beer, but it was also brewed with functional plants that are known for relaxation and anxiety relief, offering a new way to unwind.

Functional ingredients are plants or compounds that are known for their positive mental effects. The most common would be caffeine from coffee beans, and its function is to energise. There’s a whole world of functional plants out there with different properties, and many are using them everyday in health supplements for different purposes.

For me, my journey into the world of functional plants began accidentally. Ever since I stopped drinking because of a health condition, I’ve always been looking for an alternative to alcohol that not only offers flavour but also function.

One day, while looking into my culture, I found an ancient text written by a Japanese monk, Eisai, in 1211 AD, The Kissa Yojoki. It was the first book that detailed with instructions how to use plants for their functional and medicinal effects – especially for relaxation, stress and anxiety-relief.

Working with a biosciences professor at Durham University, we modernised Eisai’s discovery and made it available for moderating drinkers who are looking for an alcohol alternative that didn’t just stop at imitating flavour.

Today, there are more and more quality low/no alcohol products on the market than ever before, and many are fantastic tasting, too! I think fine food retailers are really spoilt for choice here, which is a good problem to have. I believe retailers should diversify their offering to accommodate for a wide range of consumer preferences and focus on products that are unique and different to everything else on the market.

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