Hoppy, Bitter, Caffeine Free, No/low Cal inexpensive all day beverage?
July 30, 2020 4:09 PM   Subscribe

I have recently switched to non-alcoholic IPAs and find them very satisfying but no less expensive than beer. I have also discovered hop water and it hits a particular craving but none of my local stores carry it. I would like to continue this trend of drinking non-alcoholic, hoppy, bitter beverages - what else should I try? I don't want to drink sugar (or soda) or caffeine. It doesn't have to sparkle. Any suggestions?
posted by turtlefu to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Not hoppy, but bitter.
Tall glass
Fill w ice
Club soda
Squeeze 1/4 lime
Angustora bitters to taste

I hear there's a "craft bitters" community, but that ain't my tax bracket.
posted by j_curiouser at 4:18 PM on July 30 [9 favorites]

Well it's not hoppy but it's a little bitter - I've been buying loose decaf green tea nearly by the pound lately and it gets me through the day great. I suppose you could buy bulk hops pellets and mix them in to get a combo flavour.
posted by GuyZero at 4:19 PM on July 30

I like grapefruit Spindrift but you could add a splash of grapefruit juice and zest to club soda for a similar thing.
posted by advicepig at 4:25 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]

The iced tea Spindrift is also a nice beer like alternative. You could brew strong decaf tea and add a little bubbles.
posted by advicepig at 4:26 PM on July 30

Maybe diet tonic water
posted by the primroses were over at 4:30 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]

Kombucha? If you make your own you could dry hop it.

Also if you are up for DIY, hop water looks to me to be dry hopped seltzer. You can get dry hops at a homebrew supply store. Here's a recipe. I bet you could make a version where you made a strong hop tea (soak some hop pellets in water to make a concentrated hop tea) then mix with club soda.
posted by beepbeepboopboop at 4:42 PM on July 30 [7 favorites]

Oh, hello, this is extremely targeted towards me.
What my house has been drinking for non-alcoholic hoppy things:
- Lagunitas Hoppy Refresher
- Hoplark Hop Tea (some flavors have caffiene)
- This Hop Water (not as good as the Lagunitas IMO)
- Fruitbelt Sparkling Fruit Tonic - not hoppy. But this is a non-sweet cider that I really love. It does have some sugar but it's not sweet like a soda.
- Casamara Amaro Sodas - again, not hoppy, and a tiny bit of sugar. But these are bitter and complex and light.
posted by quadrilaterals at 4:57 PM on July 30 [4 favorites]

A whole range of different bitters flavors that go way beyond the standard Angostura are available at your local grocery or liquor store or various places online. A few shakes - or more, depending on your desired beverage size and personal taste - into a glass of water or seltzer is really refreshing. My favorites are black walnut, orange, and grapefruit...separately, of course!
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:34 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]

Cold roasted barley tea is very refreshing.
posted by doift at 5:58 PM on July 30 [3 favorites]

Not hoppy, but roasted chicory root tea is delightfully bitter. I usually brew mine as I do black tea: 1 teaspoon per cup, pour boiling water over, steep 5 minutes. Tasty hot or iced. You'll want to play around with the amount you use and how long to steep it because there's a lot of variation in how the root is prepared. Everyone I buy from a new source it takes me a couple cups to hit the sweet (or bitter) spot.
posted by carrioncomfort at 6:03 PM on July 30

It's not cheap but right now I'm obsessed with the nonalcoholic aperitif Ghia. It's not hoppy but it's reeeally bitter. It's the first nonalcoholic spirit I've tried that felt like a real sipping substitute for a cocktail. It is great on the rocks on with soda.
posted by ferret branca at 6:12 PM on July 30

We have a hop-flavoured bitters, (from Phillips, in Victoria BC). Look for that in your area? Add to club soda, or any in-hoppy drink?
posted by Valancy Rachel at 6:26 PM on July 30

(your local asian market will have it.)
posted by sebastienbailard at 7:10 PM on July 30 [2 favorites]

I'll chime in to second soda, lime and Angostura. I'd even say that the soda and lime are the must-haves.
posted by wotsac at 7:13 PM on July 30

You could make a sugar free lemonade with boilded cloves, has a similar to hoppy flavor.
posted by nickggully at 7:16 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]

Bitters and soda, above, or Malört (wormwood) and soda are worth considering if a little alcohol is okay.

I find teas made from burdock root, valerian, hibiscus, and actual tea in the lapsang souchong and pu ehr categories are a reasonably satisfying substitute for my usual habit of herb-filled liqueurs when I'm not drinking.
posted by eotvos at 9:41 PM on July 30

Corn silk tea is light and caffeine free, and has a slight bitter edge to it (to me). Can be found at Korean and/or Asian grocery stores.
posted by spinifex23 at 10:23 PM on July 30

I brew a very strong hibiscus tea into almost a concentrate and then add a splash to a glass of seltzer with a couple dashes of orange bitters. Very inexpensive, no sugar, bitter and complex flavors.
posted by mezzanayne at 11:13 PM on July 30 [1 favorite]

Nthing cocktail bitters and soda water. Depending on your motivations and how strict you are about no sugar and no alcohol, you could experiment with using an of a bitter aperitif like Campari or Aperol in soda water. A 12 oz cup with 1 part Campari and 11 soda water and citrus is < 2% ABV. That's about 4x as much as n.a. beer typically, but less than half as much as, say, a can of Budweiser.
posted by voiceofreason at 2:06 AM on July 31

Thanks all. I now have lots of ideas to try.
posted by turtlefu at 5:27 AM on July 31 [1 favorite]

Bitters have a significant amount of alcohol in them, angustora lists 45% abv for example. So if you are trying to completely avoid alcohol its something to be aware of. If its just a drop or two, the rest of the drink should dilute it to negligible amounts, but if you start adding more it can get significant.
posted by TheAdamist at 5:42 AM on July 31

Buy whole hop leaves -- try different varieties -- and make hopped teas. Just add a cone to the tea steeper with your favourite leaves.

And speaking of non-alcoholic IPAs, I hear good things about those made by Athletic Brewing Co.
posted by terrapin at 9:24 AM on July 31

If you like roasted barley tea and chicory tea, roasted dandelion root tea should be on your list, too. It's not hoppy at all but it's bitter enough that a lot of folks use it as a decaf coffee replacement. It's great hot or cold.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 9:57 AM on July 31

I can confirm that the Athletic Brewing Co. non-alcoholic beers (or almost non-alcoholic...I think most of them are at 0.5%) are truly fantastic. They had some of these waiting at the finish line of my first marathon a couple of years ago, and nothing has ever been more refreshing.

Like the OP says, though, they're priced basically the same as craft beers in my area, so not necessarily a cheap alternative.
posted by scarylarry at 3:01 PM on July 31

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