I love eating out. That’s partly because although I enjoy good food I don’t much care for buying or preparing food and I really don’t enjoy cooking.
In New Zealand when people go out for an evening meal they often have a glass of wine or a beer with the meal. I don’t drink alcohol though so need to choose something else, usually a soft drink like ginger beer, or sometimes lemon, lime & bitters, depending what’s available, and what brand it is.
The Australian Bundaberg Ginger Beer is usually my choice:
Made with the finest, locally grown ginger and sugarcane, there’s simply no compromise in ingredients or quality. It’s the real deal! That’s why it takes our expert brewers up to three days to brew every batch.
It tastes pretty good and a lot of places have it.
The best ginger beer I’ve ever had though is made in the Wellington region by Rebecca Hardie Boys. The Dry version is my favourite. It’s naturally fermented and delicious while not too sweet. Unfortunately all the Hardie Boys drinks are also a bit hard to get, only stocked by some local cafes and not available for general sale to the public.
They don’t have their own website unfortunately, but an article on Stuff tells me the ginger beer has a tiny bit of alcohol in it, a by-product of the fermentation:
While Hardie Boys’bug(yeast) is fed on ginger powder, the drink flavouring is fresh ginger, grated then juiced. …
There are no preservatives, it’s not pasteurised (heating it to a high temperature would destroy some of the flavour and nutritional value) and it’s non-carbonated. [The] drink’s fizziness is from natural fermentation. The yeast turns the sugar into CO2.
A little bit of alcohol is a by-product, which helps the sterilisation of the drink, but it’s very low — 0.7 per cent.
That’s fine by me. I’m not a strict no-alcohol person, rather I lost my taste for it after an experiment maybe 25 years ago where I gave it up for a while. After a short time I found I just didn’t want to take up alcohol again.
I have a slightly amusing story from New Years Eve a couple of years ago. Friends and I went to the pub in Otaki, a nearby town of around 6,000 people. The others all had wine and I asked about drinks without alcohol. The bartender then, in a moment reminiscent of Monty Python’s spam sketch, offered me a low alcohol beer because
there’s not much alcohol in that*. It had about 5% alcohol I think.
Q: Have you got anything without spam in it?
A: Well, spam, eggs, sausage and spam has not got much spam in it.
Given the total lack of alternatives I opted for the low alcohol beer. After a few sips the alcohol was too much for me so I gave it away to my companions who assured me the beer was actually not bad.
Ah, New Zealand country pubs. Our local at Manakau does dinner. Wine drinkers have a fine selection: white or red. The pub also doesn’t stock ginger beer, but they do have lemon, lime and bitters fortunately.