Ten Best Alternatives to Beer (For Those Non-Hop Heads Among Us)
3. Ginger Beer
Photo courtesy Crabbie's This ain't your kiddie ginger beer.
Most ginger beers are non-alcoholic, but there are a few brands that add booze to the brews, like Crabbie's, a ginger beer company based in Scotland. It's got a pretty low ABV--4.8 percent--but it tastes just like regular, non-alcoholic ginger beer, so you can drink a lot of it before you realize that you're imbibing. Unlike most beer, Crabbie's is made with fermented ginger, so there aren't any barley fillers in there. Just a good, old-fashioned secret recipe that dates back to 1801.
Photo courtesy Leinenkugel's Cool, refreshing and not quite beer.
Like cider, mead is making a comeback. Or, at least it is in my mind. Mead is made by fermenting honey and water, and while the resulting flavor and carbonation is similar to beer thanks to the inclusion of hops, it's sweeter and sometimes more fruity. Mead could date back to as early as 7000 B.C., so it's also got some history behind it. Because it's recently grown in popularity (thanks, I imagine, to hipsters making their own), you can now find it at places like Spec's. Go pick up a bottle and see what you think.
Technically, a shandy is beer mixed with any number of things from soda to apple juice, but the best shandies--and the ones I think of when I hear the word--are beer and lemonade mixtures. For a beer-like beverage that's just a few steps away from your regular brew, try Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy. It's refreshing with a strong citrus flavor, but not too sweet for those of us who still like to feel like we're drinking beer. Leinenkugel is brewed in Wisconsin, but it's become increasingly popular, and you can now find it at most stores with a decent beer selection.