Refreshing alcohol alternatives to beat the dry January blues

Waving bye to the booze this January? We list the top health-conscious brewer brands to know in 2024.

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Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young

Alcohol is out, sober living is in. That’s according to a new YouGov survey, which shows that 39% of 18-to-24 year olds now self-describe as fully alcohol-free.

According to the survey, 44% of Gen Z now regularly or occasionally reach for the soft stuff over beers and wines; a 13% increase on last year, signalling a splash of change in the UK’s current and future drinking habits.

For this group, abstaining from alcohol isn’t just a month-long challenge; it’s a growing lifestyle trend. The shift is fueling a boom in the alt-alc drinks market – and innovative startups are leading the charge.

Let’s leave the hangover in 2023. Featuring brands from the Startups 100 Index – our annual ranking of the top new businesses in the UK – we’ll raise a glass (of water) to some rising stars in the alternative drinks space.

1. The Health Option: Jubel Beer


JUBEL founder, Jesse Wilson

JUBEL founder, Jesse Wilson

Forget watered-down versions of the best-known beer labels. JUBEL has entered the alt-alc markter with a whole new drinks category. Combining fruity flavours like peach, elderflower, and grapefruit with the crisp finish of lager, JUBEL’s lighter, 4% ABV recipe is low-cal and keeps drinkers hydrated to beat the hangover.

Inspired by après-ski, JUBEL has climbed high since launching in 2018. Having become the best-selling craft beer on tap in over 400 pubs, as well as the best-selling craft beer in Sainsbury’s within three years, it’s perfect for those wanting a lighter option on a heavy one.

2. Beerless Buzz – IMPOSSIBREW


IMPOSSIBREW founder, Mark Wong

Plenty of us could happily wave goodbye to the taste of alcohol. But giving up the social buzz and increased confidence is harder to imagine. So what if you could replicate those effects without the ethanol? That’s the promise behind IMPOSSIBREW, a non-alcoholic drink designed to offer a buzz-like experience minus the hangovers and health risks.

Cleverly designed using blended natural plant ingredients like lavender and hops, the brand’s trademarked ‘Social Blend’ mimics the relaxing effects of alcohol. It’s also delicious, having won numerous taste awards and become the most followed beer brand on TikTok.

3. The Ethical Choice – Drop Bear Beer Co.

Drop Bear Beer co-founders, Joelle Drummond and Sara McNena

Featured in the Startups 100 Index back in 2023, Drop Bear Beer Co is the world’s first all-female and LGBTQ+ founded alcohol-free brewery. From caramel-kissed lagers to citrusy Yuzu Pale Ales, their uniquely crafted range caters to every taste bud.

2024 is already shaping up to be a stein-sized year for the brand. Having recently brewed its very first batch of beer in the Drop Bear Brewery in Swansea, Drummond and McNena also partnered with Planet Organic in January to bring their delicious brews to a wider audience.

Dry January or forever dry?

Older generations might view pressing pause on the prosecco as a seasonal trend. During ‘Dry January’, the campaign delivered by Alcohol Change UK, thousands of people sign up to abstain from alcohol for the first month of the year.

But for Gen Z, this isn’t just a fad. The YouGov research suggests younger generations are increasingly adopting mindful alcohol consumption all-year round.

As the health risks of alcohol – like addiction, liver damage, and worsened mental health – become common knowledge, younger people are more cautious about indulging.

Alcohol alternatives allow consumers to enjoy social settings and familiar flavours without the downsides. Thanks to the increase in Alcohol Beer Duty, introduced last year, they are also often cheaper to make. Brewers can then pass these savings onto consumers.

23% of young people surveyed by YouGov said that choosing low or no alcohol drinks lowered their overall intake of alcohol. As long as the market remains competitive, the popularity of alco-substitutes looks set to continue.

Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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