Thursday, October 20, 2011

Non-alcoholic malt beverages

Non-alcoholic malt beverages: they're big here. They take up a good swath of the drinks aisle at Carrefour.

The thing is, I secretly love this stuff. When we lived in Egypt, I drank it a lot. I can't remember the brand name, but the flavor was pear and it was sooooo goooooood. Really, it was just another kind of pop to me.

Then my brain made the connection between malt and beer and I started to feel guilty about it, but only in a secondary sense. It was more that I felt guilty for not feeling guilty about drinking non-alcoholic malt beverages. It reminded me of the way I felt drinking mugicha in Japan, or whatever that fake Postum stuff was in Siberia. I wasn't doing anything wrong, but I was getting all defensive in advance against the stupid (but possibly well meaning) people who would try to tell me I was.

Anyway, I haven't partaken of a non-alcoholic malt beverage in a long time now, but every time I go down this aisle I walk a little slower to take a look at the pretty packaging and the new flavors.

Aren't they lovely?

Am I the only one who's tried this stuff? How much of my strange intellectual aversion to it is grounded in my culturally American upbringing? I bet Mormons in Germany get away with more than this - at ward activities, no less.

Here's one last completely indefensible point: apparently I think non-alcoholic malt beverages are OK, but decaf coffee is something I would just never try. But feel free to go ahead and drink it yourselves, I won't judge you, I promise. As long as you don't judge me and my sweet, sweet pear Barbican (or whatever it was).


Liz Johnson said...

As a drinker of yerba mate, I think non-alcoholic malt beverages are fine. I mean, are they addictive? I've always figured the general caution (in the shadowy grey areas) was against things that are habit-forming.

Sarah Familia said...

In Chile their national drink is an apple beverage called "chicha." Supposedly, you make it in a bathtub, and tread the apple pulp with your feet like grapes. Then you let it ferment. As missionaries, we were told that members were allowed to drink it as long as it had fermented for fewer than four days. After that, it was off-limits.

We weren't allowed to drink mate on my mission, not because it was addictive, but because the social aspect of it took so much time. I guess you could say it was "socially addictive."

My brother served his mission in Mongolia, and there the members and missionaries were allowed to drink fermented mare's milk. The same drink (out of cow's milk) is now a popular health beverage here in the States under the name of kefir. I used to make it out of our goat's milk. It gets pretty fizzy, but I don't think it has (much) alcohol content.

I don't know. Maybe these things come under the heading of "pure wine of the grape of the vine, of your own make . . . ?"

Señora H-B said...

My dad and brothers love these beverages. They're also mate drinkers. I can't stomach the taste of any of the plain ones (too bitter), but I'm intrigued by the fruit-flavored drinks.

Also, any Ecco/Postum drinkers out there? That stuff is my favorite. Yum.

Sherwood family said...

It was Fayrouz, and I agree with you, quite delicious. Brandon looked into importing it into the US, but we're not that clever. When we were in Cairo, Brandon would make fermented drinks with yeast, and in Ukraine they would make kvass, affectionately known as 'moldy bread water.' So I wouldn't feel bad. But then again, I cook with wine. So.

Nancy said...

Yes, Fayrouz. I think it's nasty but I know Andrew liked it (especially the pear kind).

And the whole idea of kvass makes me gag hard core. No offense to anyone who likes it.

But I also can't stand to drink milk and only drink juice occasionally. I'm just a water girl.

Perhaps my opinion on beverages shouldn't be taken too seriously. :)

Scotty P said...

I'm offended you didn't offer me any of those fine-looking beverages when I visited.

Bridget said...

Yes, it was Fayrouz!! Thank you. I can picture the can and everything, but I couldn't remember the brand name.

Sarah, we drank kefir all the time in Russia and I had no idea it was anything other than really strong yogurt. Now I know. Never tried kvas, though. It is my policy to not drink beverages that have the word "bready" (khlebniy) as a modifier.

Senora, I've loved postum all of the two or three times I've had it. In Siberia every Mormon who had us over to their house served us some kind of burned wheat "coffee" and it was also good. Mugicha tastes similar even though it is a clear beverage.

I don't know much about mate. I'll have to look that stuff up before I can righteously judge Liz and others.

Bridget said...

Scotty, we'll keep a few cold ones in the fridge for you next time you come.

Jill said...

Ha I HATE those. So gross

JosephJ said...

This is a very interesting post from the perspective of Mormonism and culture. My examples:

1. At work last summer some guys at lunch were hosting a non-alcoholic beer tasting (comparing 5-6 brands). By US standards means <.5%, which is not identically zero. I participated from an olfactory point of view, given that you can pretty much taste things through your nose, and provide comment/criticism without actually consuming any. I was concerned about the message the Mormon Guy would be sending, and I have a reputation to maintain.

2. Last winter, Ian and I brewed some root beer and included the winery yeast... and let it fester for the 2-3 days to make it fizzy. Too short and it tastes like yeast, to long and it goes bitter. The literature said the alcohol level would be <1%. In my home, perhaps, in public, maybe not. (I did let the Bishop sample some, just to allay any feelings of guilt-- because you know misery loves company!)

3. Since I'm a cheapskate, I've had my share of gone-off orange juice (fizzy), and last summer I had some fizzy watermelon, though they weren't fully palatable.

My main point is that even de-caffeinated coffee is not zero-caffeine, non-alcoholic beer is not zero alcohol, and THUS the need to decide for yourself how you are going to choose your diet. Almost zero can be as good as zero if the point is not for the sake of the buzz or the image... though I did have to pass on the Bananas Foster at the company party last year because one whiff of them told me they were EXTRA boozy.

Bridget said...

JosephJ, I wonder if the stuff here really is 100% non-alcoholic. I think I'll look at a label next time to see.

Jill, don't knock it til you try it, specifically the Fayrouz brand. The packaging (and taste, maybe, I have no idea) doesn't try to mimic beer as much as the ones in these pictures.

Susanne said...

I remember when my Muslim friend about freaked when I gave him a root beer flavored jelly bean when he was visiting our room in Damascus. He said "root beer has alcohol...a tiny bit!" They even use powdered vanilla, but I know vanilla extract is loaded with alcohol.

I think Joseph J makes a lot of sense because he is concerned about what image he gives to those watching who maybe expect a certain standard. I rather admire that he is concerned with his testimony.

I think even milk has some alcohol content, doesn't it?

I think I know now why Mormons don't drink certain things. You avoid addictive drinks, is that it? I can understand that.

jrwmacdonald said...

You realize now I'm going to drink this stuff all the time. Thanks for bringing it by the other day.

I'm slightly concerned about how much my son likes it though. Why do I feel that way? I'm also just a little concerned about the message it sends the kids - though I'm not convinced it is a bad message. My love of Coca-Cola I inherited from my father's example - what poor health choices might my kids pick up from me.


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