Sip on these four booze-free craft beverages this fall
If you haven’t heard, there have been talks of shifting U.S. alcohol guidelines to mirror Canada’s, which recommend consuming no more than two boozy beverages per week. This prospective change would mean way fewer trailhead beers and fireside whiskeys. Womp womp. Luckily, there are lots of non-alcoholic craft beverages brewed right here in Southern Appalachia. We rounded up four of our favorites below.
Strawberry Rhubarb Soda
Waynesville Soda Jerks–Waynesville, N.C.
Megan Brown is a jerk. But not in the way you may think.
About 10 years ago, she and business partner Chris Allen embarked on a quest to make a healthier soda featuring farm-fresh ingredients grown in their native Haywood County, N.C. They called their fledgling endeavor Waynesville Soda Jerks—a nostalgic nod to the soda fountains of yesteryear—and half-expected it to flop.
“We were in our mid-twenties and had no plans of running a business beyond the summer of 2013,” Brown tells us.
But flop it did not. Today, Waynesville Soda Jerks is sold in 150 locations across the Blue Ridge, with flavors ranging from Blueberry Serrano to Lavender Lemon. Even though the weather is cooling down, we can’t get enough of their Strawberry Rhubarb soda. Bright and refreshing, it tastes like summer in a bottle.
Wild Pear Kombucha
Blue Ridge Bucha–Waynesboro, Va.
Kombucha is a divisive drink. While many swear by the stuff, there’s a whole camp of critics who consider the fermented liquid decidedly unpalatable.
“Not a day goes by that someone tells us they don’t like kombucha,” confirms Angie Heyming, who co-owns Blue Ridge Bucha with her husband, Hank. Fortunately, the couple has perfected the fermentation process to yield a sessionable booch that makes quick converts of naysayers.
“We try to keep the flavor profiles simple, with each one having our crisp, clean finish,” Angie says, rattling off unique combinations like jasmine and grapes, blueberries and hops, and elderflower and rosehips. Our favorite (and Angie’s too) is Blue Ridge Bucha’s Wild Pear flavor. Infused with rosemary, the elixir is satisfyingly sweet with an herbaceous finish.
Spiced Apple Brown Sugar Lemon-Aid
Peach State Drinks–Atlanta, Ga.
With only three basic ingredients (ie., water, sugar, and lemon juice), it doesn’t take a mixologist to make lemonade. But it does require a certain degree of finesse to make lemonade as good as the stuff peddled by Peach State Drinks.
Founded by Ni’Kesia Pannell and Choya Johnson in 2019, the Georgia-based company specializes in lemonade with a surprising twist: Rather than sweeten the drink with table sugar, Pannell and Johnson opt for brown sugar and a smidge of agave.
“While we wanted to deliver a nostalgic sip, it was important that we put our own spin on it,” Pannell explains.
Rich and decadent, the resulting flavor is the perfect pairing for seasonal add-ins like peaches, strawberries, and muscadine grapes. With autumn in full swing, we’ve been sipping their Spiced Apple flavor, which tastes like apple cider and lemonade had a baby.
Big Blue Cold Brew
Snowing in Space Coffee Co.–Charlottesville, Va.
Sure, you could spend your next camping trip choking down bitter instant coffee. Or, you could bring along a few cans of nitro cold brew by Snowing in Space Coffee Co.
Produced in Charlottesville, Va., this coffee is smooth, rich, and B.S.-free.
“Our cold brew is different from most other canned cold brews in that we don’t add anything else to the coffee. It’s just great coffee, water, and nitrogen,” says Brandon Wooten, the company’s chief brand officer. “We also roast and brew our coffees in small batches every week to maintain freshness.”
Sold by Whole Foods and a menagerie of specialty grocers, the coffee line includes four main varieties plus a handful of limited-edition single-origin brews. Our top pick is Big Blue, a light-roast Ethiopian coffee with notes of berry and chocolate.
Cover photo: Sip a farm-fresh soda from Waynesville Soda Jerks. photos courtesy of WSJ.