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.
Summer has finally arrived, and for the first time since I got sober six years ago, my fridge is overflowing with excellent non-alcoholic beers. I know I’ve said it before, but I truly cannot believe the abundance of new non-alcoholic brews that have appeared on the market in the past few years. While they’re not all winners, there are enough good ones out there that anyone who doesn’t want to consume alcohol can find the perfect brew to go with whatever they’re eating, whatever they’re doing, or whatever mood they’re in.
Japanese import Suntory All-Free fills a very specific beer-shaped hole in my life: the drinking-all-day-in-the-hot-summer-sun beer. Technically a “sparkling malt and hops beverage,” All-Free is whisper-light, but not flavorless. It’s not fermented, but still delivers a beer-eque experience using richly flavored two-row barley malt, bright and bitter hops, and the most popular mineral water in Japan: Suntory Tennensui. It is crisp, refreshing, and the perfect thing to drink when you’re sweltering outdoors.
There’s another reason Suntory All-Free has become my lazy-day summer beer: it has zero calories. Now, I’m not a person who usually obsesses over calories, but I do my best not to drink them when I could be eating them. In general non-alcoholic beer is low in calories (it’s the alcohol that gets ya!), but if you’re planning on drinking a six-pack while spending your Saturday cleaning the yard, it adds up. Since I don’t have to worry about calories or getting drunk and belligerent, I can drink all the All-Free I want. This is precisely how I wish to hydrate from now until September.
Like all good summer beers, Suntory All-Free (which you can also buy here) is best when served ice cold—and I mean ice cold. Keep them chilled in the back of the fridge or at the very bottom of a cooler full of ice, and if you keep a frosty mug in your freezer, bring it out for this one. All-Free’s mellow nature also makes it great for simple beer-based mocktails, like a classic shandy (add ginger beer), summer shandy (add lemon juice and club soda), or this vibrant Jasmine Honey Lemonade.
Courtesy of Suntory All-Free and Julia Momose (Kumiko, Chicago)
- 5 grams jasmine oolong tea leaves
- 200 ml water (195 degrees) steeped for 1.5 minutes. Strain and chill.
- 2 parts honey to 1 part water by weight.
Combine 2-ounces of jasmine tea, 1/2-ounce honey syrup, and 1/4-ounce lemon juice in a shaker tin and shake to chill and aerate. Pour into a chilled glass of ice. Top with Suntory ALL-FREE and garnish with fresh herbs.