Welcome to Like A Virgin, a column in which we recommend a different zero-ABV drink each week. They’re not “near beers,” they’re not “mocktails”—they’re delicious beverages that anyone and everyone should try at least once. Got an idea for a future Like A Virgin column? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of my favorite parts of our current non-alcoholic renaissance is the advent of hoppy beverages that aren’t beer. When you develop an affinity for beer, you grow to enjoy not only its alcohol content, but each of its component ingredients. So it stands to reason you might like to see what those ingredients could do in all sorts of non-beer situations, right? Beer naturally inspires our curiosity and imagination; after all, we live in a society where people are voluntarily brewing and drinking beer infused with mustard, Lucky Charms, and all sorts of other ungodly things, so there’s no reason for hops, a beer staple, to stay in their lane. It’s about damn time for those tasty flowers to break out on their own, and the beverage world is all the better for it.
This week I would like to point your attention to Aurora and its two sparkling hop-infused beverages, which are not quite sodas, not quite spritzers, and definitely not beer. The Yuzu Orange Blossom is exquisite, balancing vivid fruity and floral notes with just enough sweetness to tie it all together. The back label says it contains quinine extract, though it’s gentle enough that, like the organic cane sugar, it is almost completely obscured, merely there to lend its support to the yuzu and hops. Aurora uses hops grown in the Pacific Northwest, and Yuzu Orange Blossom uses extracts from Mosaic and Citra hops to add bitter notes of wood and the bright perfume of orange blossom. It’s a hops drink that is leagues away from, say, Dunkaroos-flavored beer. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Pomelos, the largest of all citrus fruits, are very similar to grapefruits in that they lead with a strong punch of bitterness before finishing on a one-two of sour and sweet. It’s an ideal complement for Citra hops, which are known for bringing hints of more fruits than you can shake a stick at: oranges, limes, mangoes, lychees, passion fruit, guava, pineapple, peaches... if you feel like focusing hard I’m sure you can find more, but I prefer to kick back and relax with Aurora’s Pomelo Sage. Sipping on this, you’ll wonder why hoppy drinks of all stripes have taken so long to catch on, and you’ll feel grateful that they finally have.