Food & Drink

6th April 2021

Alcohol-Full vs Alcohol-Free: Taste-testing alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks

Will my friends be able to tell the difference between their much-loved alcoholic beverages and the non-alcoholic alternatives? Four of my housemates have kindly agreed to let me blindfold them and give them various unknown drinks (it’s not as sinister as it sounds, I swear). Based on the physical properties of the drinks, they will be scoring each beverage on smell and taste. In terms of the social ideologies surrounding alcohol-free drinks, I will also be asking them if they would consider the alcohol-free swaps.

Image credit: Author- scorecards
Image credit: Author- scorecards

In true lockdown fashion, I went full out for this activity. Scorecards, unicorn cups, blindfolds – the lot! Along with this extreme procrastination prep, a trip to ASDA secured me all the drinks (all prices included in this article are from ASDA).                                                                                                          

Each scorecard has a rating out of 10 for each sample and also a choice box of which one is the alcoholic drink.

Without further ado, introducing my lab rats…

Erin, who considers herself a regular drinker, loves a good classy cosmopolitan but is partial to a cranberry juice also, on those more sober occasions. Her preferred club in Liverpool to enjoy these drinks is Heebie Jeebies.

Kyle, an occasional drinker, says his preference of pub is ‘any Wetherspoons’. Perhaps this is because he can get both his two favourite drinks here- a beer and a coffee. Cheap and cheerful!

Sarah is a Raspberry Mojito kind of gal. She classes herself as an occasional drinker, so she’s also very content with a glass full of fresh orange juice. Her favourite club in Liverpool is Moloko- skint Tuesdays.

Matt, a regular drinker, just loves a good ol’ simple beer, preferably in Mcooleys! When he’s not so boozed up, he likes to down pints of water instead. Gotta keep hydrated.

Image credit: Author- my lab rats

So, with everyone gathered in their make-do blindfolds and with water at the ready, we began!

The Experiment

Test 1: BEER

Image credit: Author- beer cans

Budweiser vs Budweiser Zero

Budweiser (alcoholic):

£3.97 for 4X440ml or £5 for 4X 568ml (larger quantities available)

Smell: 6.25/10

Taste: 6.25/10

Overall: 6.25/10

Budweiser Zero (non-alcoholic)

 £3 for 4X 330ml

Smell: 5.75/10

Taste: 5.5/10

Overall: 5.75/10

The price of these beers is pretty similar, but is the taste similar? All 4 of my housemates said NO. They could tell the difference between these two, with 4/4 of them correctly determining which one was alcoholic. The alcoholic Budweiser rated higher than its non-alcoholic counterpart in all three categories. BOO to non-alcoholic beer! So, comments?


“too beery” (from the non-beer drinker there)

“fizzy, fresher”

“more froth”


Budweiser Zero…

“very light”

“quite flat”

“without fizz”


“not bad considering I don’t like beer”

“replicates beer well”

“would enjoy”

The Budweiser zero was not highly commended but not rated awfully either! However, the real Budweiser has won here. 1-0 to alcoholic beverages.

Test 2: CIDER

Image credit: Author- cider bottles

Kopparberg vs Kopparberg Alcohol-Free

Kopparberg Mixed Fruit (alcoholic)

£5 for 4x330ml or £2.05 for 1X500ml

Smell: 6.38/10

Taste: 7.5/10

Overall: 7.25/10

Kopparberg Mixed Fruit (non-alcoholic)

£3 for 4X330ml

Smell: 8.5/10

Taste: 8.5/10

Overall: 8.14/10

Alcohol-free Kopparberg is in fact cheaper AND higher rated! It’s a win-win for the non-alcoholic team. So, what’s the commentary on these two?

Koppaberg alcoholic…

“would have again”

“slightly stronger”

“summery drink”

Koppaberg Alcohol-Free…


“tasted very good. Big thumbs up”

“fruity, sweet”


“love it”

So, comments and ratings for both drinks were good and my housemates all said they would swap out the alcoholic for the non-alcoholic if they felt like it. One housemate even guessed the non-alcoholic to be the alcoholic (but we’ll give him that one because he’s not a big cider drinker!).

Test 3: ROSÉ

Image credit: Author- Rosé bottles

Rosé vs Rosé Alternative

Rosé wine 10.5% (alcoholic)

£3.39 for 750ml (yes, we are students)

Smell: 6.75/10

Taste: 5.25/10

Overall: 6/10

ASDA Pink Muscat (non-alcoholic)

£2.94 for 750ml

Smell: 5.75/10

Taste: 8.5/10

Overall: 7.25/10

I have to admit, this particular taste test was a bit of a botched job. Would you believe, in a student area, ASDA has hardly any alcohol-free alternatives?! So, I searched high and low for a rosé look-alike. The Pink Muscat looked pretty similar- I thought it can’t be far off can it?  Well yes, it was fizzy (should have googled it before I bought it). This clearly revealed the true rosé to my housemates! However, even though they said it was nothing like rosé or wine (actually more like cider), they loved it. Apparently, it was much like that alcohol-free drink we all loved as a child, you know what I mean – Schloer! So, grab some Asda Pink Muscat for a bit of nostalgia. Here are some more comments:

Rosé wine…

“fairly nice for a wine”

“nice and sweet not too sharp”

“decent wine”

Pink Muscat…

“very nice and fizzy”

“yum yum would have again”

“nice fruity drink but deffo not alcoholic taste”

“very sweet”

“not wine but very nice, summery, fruity”

Therefore, perhaps an unexpected win from the Muscat there! Nothing like wine, but my house and I have definitely found a drink for perhaps takeaway nights, as a mixer, or even on those nights we stay sober. Good accidental find!

Test 4: GIN

Image credit: Author- Gin bottles

Gin vs Ultra-low Alcohol Gin

ASDA London Dry Gin + Pink Grapefruit Tonic Water (alcoholic)

£6 for 350ml (yes, again we are students) + £2 for 750ml

Smell: 6/10

Taste: 7/10

Overall: 6.75/10

Gordon’s Gin and Tonic with Grapefruit Flavouring (non-alcoholic – also available as gin and lime tonic)

£5.50 for 4X250ml

Smell: 7.5/10

Taste: 7.5/10

Overall: 7.25/10

Now, personally, I have a great need for an alcohol free gin. If you’re anything like me, you’ll cry the minute the gin hits your taste buds and you’ll end up having a regretful night crying over your ex/cute dog pictures/absolutely anything that happens to you that night. Heaven forbid those cocktails with hidden gin in them. Fingers crossed for this Gordon’s Low-Alcohol Grapefruit Gin…

Asda Gin and Grapefruit Tonic…

“too strong for me” (oops may have been my mixing ratios)

“slightly worse tasting but still nice”

“tasted nicer but not as fresh”

Gordon’s Low Alcohol Grapefruit Gin…

“tasted similar”


“would have again”

“tastes good. Could be gin”

“sweet testing”

“very fresh taste”

To try and recreate the Gordon’s Non-Acoholic Grapefruit Gin, I mixed gin with grapefruit tonic, perhaps another botched job but my housemates said it was pretty similar! Nevertheless, the real gin was uncovered, but the non-alcoholic was rated higher. 3-1 to non-alcoholic drinks!


So, there we have it. A (fully scientific) taste-testing experiment with alcohol and alcohol-free drinks. The alcohol-free drinks rated higher 3-1. All 4 of my housemates guessed the alcoholic drink correct. However, they said that if they were given the non-alcoholic beer, cider, and gin without it’s alcohol counterpart by its side, they wouldn’t have been able to tell they were non-alcoholic. All 4 said they would consider this alcohol-free alternative; however, as they all enjoy alcohol’s effect, they said it would be more as a soft drink with a takeaway for example. Nevertheless, they are a good alternative for those non-drinkers as you can still join in on the taste of alcohol (if you like it of course!), without feeling intoxicated. Not to mention they are a healthier choice for both your body and mind.

The packaging for the alcohol-free alternatives is so similar to the alcoholic labels that you could even drink these conspicuously at a party or drinking occasion if you were trying to blend in whilst being sober. Or you could even drink a non-alcoholic drink at every other pub on a pub crawl to make sure you survive to the end! There are so many ways to incorporate these drinks into your lifestyle, whatever suits you.

Feature image credit: author – my housemates.

To find out the best food and drinks that Liverpool has to offer, and tasty recipes, check out some of our other articles!