Are you having a sober October? If you’re not ready for a whole month without alcohol, maybe you’re cutting down in a bid to get healthier?
Whatever the reason, there’s no doubt our drinking habits are changing as we embrace a more preventative and holistic approach to our health and wellbeing.
This presents a big challenge to our teams at Treatt - to deliver an alcoholic beverage experience in a no alcohol format. But it’s a challenge we relish.
We spoke to Lamia Gaman, Applications Manager at Treatt, who shares her tips on creating a better for you beverage which consumers will love.
How do you create a low alcohol or no alcohol beverage which still delivers the experience of drinking alcohol?
Alcohol plays such an interesting and deeply complex role in beverages. On one hand it has warming properties. Think about when you drink a glass of bold red wine, or dark spirit - there is a gentle warming sensation that you feel at the back of your throat and as the liquid travels down. It also adds mouthfeel, or texture to a beverage as well as helping to lift the aroma and flavour compounds.
How do you recreate the warming and cooling sensations associated with alcohol?
If a developer wanted to mimic warming properties, they might consider chilli extracts or pepper extracts but these should be used with caution. What has to be carefully considered when using these products is the fact while these do warm, they have heat and the heat builds, so for a RTD that is a long serve, it is important to bear this in mind. There are also compounds that are found in botanical extracts that can be used to mimic the tingling sensation, or the cooling effect that alcohol can have.
The key is balance and harmony. Alcohol itself doesn’t have a flavour, so whatever you use needs to be used at a level where you cannot detect its flavour which takes a lot of perseverance when formulating. But that’s exactly where the knowledge and skills of our global innovation teams come in.
What are some of the ingredients in your ‘low and no’ toolbox?
There are many ingredients that can be used to deliver complexity in low and no products. The key, I have found, is layering and blending natural extracts and flavours together in such a way that as a consumer you cannot pick out one sole flavour - all flavours used are well balanced and harmonious.
Botanical and tea extracts play a large part in this process as they can add spicy, herbal and dry notes that are so commonly found in spirits and alcoholic beverages.
I’ve also found that some of our fruit and vegetable distillates can add back some of the nuances and subtleties lost especially when alcohol has been removed from a beverage. These are all ingredients that I can call upon for these types of challenges but for the sophisticated adult beverages, we make use of our entire portfolio. For example, Yuzu which is trending right now, can add to the perception of a premium beverage.
Another example is tea extracts and essences – they can be used to add that drying character that is typically associated with wines. You can use lighter teas such as white tea extracts in white wine type products, but the darker teas such as black tea in red wine type products to give the effect of tannins.
More often than not, when developing alcoholic type flavours it’s key to think about products which can be associated with the spirit as it is consumed. As developers, we can then play on the consumers’ association between the ingredient and the spirit to deliver a more authentic experience.
If you think about drinking rum, you will encounter dark, rich molasses notes. We’ve found that our sugar extracts are great at adding that muscovado burnt sugar note and by layering that with other key rum characteristics such as caramel, or spice depending on the style of rum you are looking for, you can start to build an authentic, complex flavour. We’ve also found that these types of products which we’ve typically used for sugar reduction can be used to lighten or ‘pop’ profiles. For example, with non-alcoholic beer, they add mouthfeel and improve the overall beverage performance.
Is low or no alcohol a passing fad for beverages, or here to stay?
At Treatt we’re excited about the future of low and no. The growth we’ve already seen in the US, UK and Europe will continue and we are seeing a lot of interest from regions such as the Middle East, where consumers can begin to enjoy a much more sophisticated, authentic experience of low and no beverages.
This sector is driven by flavour and improving the sensory and visual experience. Consumers want the full experience of alcohol and the idea of the indulgence that can come with that, in a beverage which also meets their healthy living needs.
We have the knowledge and expertise to help develop some of the best low and no beverages consumers will be enjoying in future.