As a preface to this excerpt, kindly permit me to note that at my “day job” of beer director for Pints&union in New Albany, I’m now stocking six stylistically different non-alcoholic beers.


Because our guests want these options, the six brands sell briskly and this is the way pub life ought to be. There should be something for everyone, within reason.

I’m fascinated by the explosion of non-alcoholic beer choices, and to be honest, how good they taste. This wasn’t always the case, and it attests to changing times in a positive way I can get behind even if I remain a beer drinker with the alcohol.

These thoughts by a California wine writer provide another angle to the non-alcholic discussion. In short, the industry has transcended “mocktails” as surely as it has “near beer.”

Stop calling them ‘mocktails’, by Jess Lander (SF Chronicle)

When I was covering the opening of the Haven, a new cocktail bar in downtown Napa, I asked if the program included any mocktails. Then I was politely corrected: “We prefer the term alcohol-free,” the subject said.

She then referred me to Josh Harris, the co-founder of acclaimed San Francisco bar Trick Dog, who turned her off from the use of “mocktail.” Trick Dog was one of the first Bay Area bars to incorporate a robust program of non-alcoholic drinks into its menu when it opened in 2013.

“By definition, ‘mock’ is kind of a dirty word,” said Harris, who has been sober for 19 years. “I think it sort of trivializes what is in some cases a really significant thing, which is choosing to not drink alcohol for whatever reason, for any amount of time.”

People often feel insecure, get mocked or “othered” at bars when they ask for a non-alcoholic option, he continued, which may, in turn, cause them to order an alcoholic beverage after all. “For some people, it’s high stakes,” he said, “and if you’re in a situation that makes you feel self-conscious, then you may abandon what it was you were planning — to have something without alcohol.”

It couldn’t be a better time for the beverage industry to move on from “mocktail.” This landscape has evolved dramatically since Trick Dog’s early days, and non-alcoholic drinks are as sophisticated and in-demand as ever, powered by the growing sober curious and wellness movements. There are dedicated non-alcoholic retailers and bars, while traditional bars are utilizing high-end ingredients and complex techniques, like milk clarification, in their alcohol-free creations…