Refreshing Beer Alternatives That Are Big on Flavour and Easy on Calories
Give your beer fridge a healthy upgrade with delicious beer alternatives that are easy on the calorie count. Photo: Jordan Lye/Moment via Getty Images
Father’s Day, the first day of summer, even Canada Day, may look a little different this year, but we say change can be a good thing. And that includes giving the contents of your “beer fridge” an update. There’s a wealth of beer alternatives out there — not that we’re saying that you, your dad or your granddad change up their favourite brewskie.
What we are saying, however, is that there are lots of choices, even some healthier ones, when it comes to cracking a cold one. So why not say hello to summer, toast all the dads, and say a Canuck cheers with a few new made-in-Canada beverages.
What is it? It’s an alcoholic brew, made with fermented apples. (Fermented foods are said to be good for your gut health, too).
Our fave: Stock & Row’s Slow + Low Dry Cider, with about 5 grams of sugar, all from the apples, and 5% alc./vol. per can, so this holds up to beer very nicely. Made with 100% Ontario apples, the company has now set down roots with orchards and a future cidery in Prince Edward County, On.
What’s new: The cider masters at Stock & Row have just launched Cold Tea cider, with zero sugar, raspberry black tea (healthier in a can: black tea ups the antioxidant factor!) and apples, of course.
Plus a shout-out for donating more than a month’s worth of proceeds to the hospitality industry during Covid lockdown. Stock & Row managed to raise more than $10,000.
Fancy Cocktail in a Can
What is it? It’s a pre-mixed cocktail, like a gin and tonic, but elevated.
Our fave: Bee’s Knees, a take on the 1920s classic made by Storyteller Beverages, with Niagara Craft Distillers Gin, Ontario honey from Rosewood Estates, natural lemon flavour, citric acid and carbonated water.
The bonus: It’s only about 150 calories, with 5% alc./vol, is gluten- and preservative-free and has 12.9 grams of sugar, all from the natural honey; plus it comes in 6, 12 and 24, just like your favourite beers. And it looks pretty darn good poured into a fancy glass, too. Careful, or your physically distanced guests might think you’re a mixologist.
More to the story: Storyteller is actually a brewery, known for its easy-drinking Lager.
RTD (Ready to Drink)
What is it? It’s a ready to drink, well, drink, also usually in a can, but sometimes in a glass bottle, like a cooler. A little simpler than the fancy cocktail, more like a vodka and soda.
Our fave: Nude Beverages. Yes, we said Nude. The company, based in Vancouver, calls it a hard seltzer, which means it’s fizzy and has booze in it. (It’s also made a bit of noise south of our border, so Go Canada!)
Take it off: This cold one is free of sugars, sweeteners and gluten, with 5% alc./vol. We’re loving the Mixed Berry Gin Soda, but warming up to the Raspberry Vodka Soda, as well.
If you need another reason: A portion of sales go to the SPCA (animal lovers, rejoice! – about $100,000 has already gone to help our furry friends), and a new Covid relief fund with the goal to donate about $50,000 to Canadian Red Cross, Alberta SPCA, CanadaHelps and other local initiatives.
Okay, we did have to include one beer …
What is it: A lighter beer.
Our fave: Mill St. Brewery’s Big Little Lager (see what they did there?)
Why big? The flavours of New Zealand hops provide a lemon-lime, citrusy zing, reminiscent of Brut (that’s dry) IPAs, with a champagne-like finish.
Why little? A 355 mL can of this brew clocks in at 80 calories, 3 g of carbs and sits at 3.5 % alc./vol., while its big little tall-boy comes in at 110 calories and 4 g of carbs, so you’d be okay to treat yourself.
PS: We always said we had champagne tastes on a beer budget.
And, finally, for the low to no alcohol enthusiast …
What is it: Newfangled sparkling water
Our fave: Sapsucker organic sparkling tree water (it’s also the only one we know of). Take it straight with The Original One, or infused with natural lemon (The Lemon One) or lime (The Lime One) flavours, with a little added bubble for that fizz-factor.
Maple Leaf Forever: Our nation’s trees act as a natural filter when drawing moisture up from the roots. Just like maple syrup, trees can be sustainably and harmlessly tapped for the water.
Oh, and did we mention: It’s a totally plant-based bevvie, with a few minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins and prebiotics thrown in for good measure. Plus, it’s only 35 calories.
True patriot love: The company works with local growers and independent producers in Canada.