Local fruit and vegetables – from rhubarb to elderflower – play a key role in Tasmania’s burgeoning low-alcohol and alcohol-free drinks scene.
Local rhubarb is the key ingredient in Rhubarb Sparkle, described as “an elegant low-alcohol sparkling beverage” by founder and maker Jane Dykstra, who farms at Lower Longley in the Huon Valley, south of Hobart. Every bottle is wild fermented and free from added preservatives – and its pink colour is the natural colour of rhubarb. Rhubarb Sparkle is “fun, flirty and a little bit wild”, says Jane.
The Tasmanian Chilli Beer Company – which makes alcoholic and non-alcoholic sparkling beverages – boasts that all its products are gluten- and preservative-free, vegan friendly and low in sugar. Its drinks contain nothing artificial and are unfiltered.
While there are no lo-fi wines currently made in Tasmania, a lovely alternative is Ashbolt Medium Dry Elderflower Sparkling. It is fermented in the bottle and made from fresh flowers of the elder tree, which are harvested by hand. Free from additives, artificial flavours, colourings, or preservatives, this sparkling beverage uses Highland water from the River Derwent.
Tasmanian venues are also adjusting their drinks lists for diners seeking grown-up alternatives.
At the Red Velvet Lounge in Cygnet, co-owner Kate Sullivan caters to those who prefer non-alcoholic offerings with her own freshly made fruit and vegetable cocktails, often containing local apples and berries, and the Tasmanian Chilli Beer Company’s Chilli Ginger Beer.
Hobart’s hip Dier Makr serves its $120 per head tasting menu with an optional $60 matching of non-alcoholic beverages, with options such as ‘Sans Vin Jaune’, which the team at Dier Makr likens to a Jura white wine. It comprises fermented apple juice cold infused with hojicha (green tea) for toastiness and tannin and Meyer lemon stock with a touch of kuzu (a natural starch) for texture and acidity.
Time to taste
Chilli Ginger Beer - Refreshment with a feisty tangy edge, $4.50 for 330ml
Rhubarb Sparkle - An alternative to wine with 1.5% alcohol, $25 for 750ml
Ashbolt Medium Dry Elderflower Sparkling - Non-alcoholic bubbles, $90 for a case of six