Delicious non-alcoholic drinks to power you on through January

John Wilson: Apart from the health benefits, these are some of the most interesting alcohol-free drinks

I am happy to believe the growing evidence that fermented drinks such as kefir, kombucha and other health drinks are good for us in all sorts of ways. But I would be happy to drink them anyway, as they are some of the most interesting alcohol-free options. As I have a steady supply of home-produced milk kefir, I drink it daily. I also really enjoy some of the fruit-flavoured water kefirs.

All about Kombucha has expanded since I last wrote about the company, and the products are now listed in many retailers and cafes across the country. Its kombuchas are organic and fermented in their carbon-neutral brewery, part-funded by Údarás na Gaeltachta in Co Galway.

Katie McCann runs Katie’s Kombuchas from a back garden Seomra space in Dalkey. While training as a chef at Ballymaloe, she became fascinated by all kinds of fermentation. “Everything is brewed in small batches to get maximum health benefits and keep that home-made taste,” she says.

King of Kefir moved into a new food hub in Ardee recently. “It’s amazing to be out in the country again,” says Gerry Scullion. “You forget how friendly people are.” He is very excited to be part of local food producer group Boyne Valley Flavours. I have featured his unique Hop Culture water kefir before. Look out next year for several new flavours, including Lavender & Rose.

The Cultured Food Company, based in Skibbereen, produces excellent sauerkrauts and kimchis. It also sells a range of flavoured sauerkraut juices. It’s not quite a drink, as you take it in shots, and it can also be used in healthy cocktails, dressings and dips.

If you fancy fermenting your own kefir or kombucha, kefir-grains.ie or allaboutkombucha.ie will help get you started.

All about Kombucha Organic Blueberry and Mint

0%, €3.95 for a 330ml can

Fizzy, fruity and tart, given a nice lift by the mint. A great thirst-quencher.

From Avoca, Dunnes Stores, SuperValu, Fresh and many others

King of Kefir Lemongrass and Ginger Organic

0%, €2.90-€3.99 in bottle or can

Lightly sparkling with herby spicy notes and a refreshing fruitiness.

From SuperValu; Dunnes Stores; Donnybrook Fair; Avoca; Butler’s Pantry; Bradley’s, Cork; Fresh, and many independents

Katie’s Kombucha Raspberry

0%, about €4 in bottle or can

Fresh, crisp, mouth-watering Wicklow raspberries with wonderful pure raspberry fruits.

From Spar, SuperValu, Fresh and independent retailers

The Cultured Food Company Sauerkraut Juice

0%, €3.50 for a 500ml bottle

Fresh, crisply acidic, salty, and spicy, A great way to start the day, and a hangover cure too, I am told.

From culturedfoodco.ie

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