Irish Wit and Spanish Grapes

Plus a Barrel-Aged Beauty and a Growing Summer Cocktail List

Wotcha! Just a quick note to welcome Tyler McMahon from Reducaholic who gives us his thoughts on the very tasty Barrel-Aged Milk Dark beer.

In this week’s edition: 

  • 📰 NAN - Nonalcoholic News my Nan would approve of!

  • 🍷 WINE: Hollow Leg - Sparkling Albariño

  • 🍺 BEER: Atmos Brewing Co. - Barrel-Aged Milk Dark

  • 🍹 COCKTAIL: Recess Zero Proof - Watermelon Mojito

P.S. ⬇️ Those of you who live in Portland, OR - please read! ⬇️

 The Modern Substitute & My Sober Girlfriends NA Social Happy Hour

Join me and Naomi Veak, founder of My Sober Girlfriends for a NA Social Happy Hour (or two) between 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on May 1, 2024 at John’s Marketplace at 3560 SE Powell Blvd. in Portland.

We are hoping to create a social space where we can meet other folks that love nonalcoholic drinks. There will be tastings provided by John’s Marketplace and they will be offering a 15% discount on any NA products from the store during the happy hour.

Come and chat about your favorite NA beer, the best NA cocktail you’ve had, why Craft Beasts Brewing Company have created a line of NA beers for dogs (!), or we can all have a moan about the weather. See you there!

First time reading this? (Join here).

Read time: 6 mins 40 sec


Nonalcoholic News my Nan would approve of!

  • 🍺 BEER: Look out for the New School Pineapple Sour from Go Brewing. (link)

  • 🍺 BEER: I do love a shandy and Best Day Brewing has just put out a limited run of a new Yuzu Ginger Shandy. (link)

  • 🍷 WINE: News in this morning that Oceano Wines have released their 2023 Chardonnay. (link)

  • 🥃 SPIRITS: Not one, but two, new spirits from Bare Zero Proof - Rum Blanco and Caribbean Gold Spiced Rum. (link)

  • 🍺 BEER: Another week, another collab. Wisconsin Brewing Company and Harley-Davidson have teamed up to create the “Harley-Davidson Road King”, an American Pilsner. (link)


In each edition of The Modern Substitute, ON THE BAR focuses on three drinks you should be on the look out for. We’ll give you a quick rundown of our thoughts on the drink, who makes it, where to buy it or, in the case of mocktails, how to make it.

Please note: due to popularity or limited runs, some drinks may be out of stock - please check with the beverage companies for updates.

NA Wine


  • Spain

  • Calories: 6

  • Sugar: 0.3g

  • Serving: 25.4 fl.oz. (Individual serving is 5 fl.oz.)

  • ABV: 0.5%

  • Buy: • store locator* • available at multiple online stores

  • Price: $17.00-$20.00

*The store locator isn’t reflecting the stores I have seen carrying it in Oregon. So you might want to still look for it in your favorite NA wine stores.

The ModSub thoughts: It's just like the Irish to cheekily borrow a slang term for a heavy drinker and use it as the name for a brand of nonalcoholic wine. Founders Ronan Farrell and Richie Byrne from Wine Lab, alongside Jamie O’Toole of Featherblade Steakhouse in Dublin, are the brains behind Hollow Leg, an Irish wine company currently offering four nonalcoholic wine SKUs.

The expertise behind their wine comes from Pablo Martinez, a winemaker from Galicia in northwest Spain. Martinez was already refining his nonalcoholic wine formulas when he teamed up with Farrell. In total, it took five years to perfect the wines now sold by Hollow Leg.

During my research on the company, one quote from Farrell in The Irish Times resonated with me: "The trick is not to try to recreate the exact character of wine—the same aroma, weight and fruit. The goal was to create something gastronomic, but don't expect it to taste like traditional wine."

I’ve been sampling their Sparkling Albariño for the last couple days. Initially, the overwhelming fizz and acidity made it hard to associate it with typical wine flavors, just as Farrell had suggested. In contrast to my reaction, Mrs. ModSub was far more enthusiastic, giving it a thumbs up.

So, the following night, I poured a small glass from the previously opened bottle and compared it with a half-empty glass from the night before. The bottle had lost half its carbonation, and the cling-filmed glass retained none. With the fizz gone, the wine's overpowering acidity was significantly diminished, revealing a lovely blend of elderflower and pear flavors with a hint of wood on the finish, transforming it into an unexpectedly delightful drink.

I may seem less than sold on this Sparkling Albariño—quite the contrary. Despite my initial reservations, the “flat” version of the wine has left me encouraged and intrigued to try the others in the collection, including the Rosé, the Cabernet, and the non-sparkling Albariño.

There is clearly something special going on here. I’m just not sure if I should call it wine. Or should I?

How does Hollow Leg describe their Sparkling Albariño: Bright and pure on the nose, with elegant aromas of citrus peel and pear. The palate is lively and crisp with a rich mousse and beautifully balanced acidity that creates a long and flavoursome finish.

Learn more about Hollow Leg at

NA Beer


  • Hailey, Idaho

  • Calories: Unknown

  • Sugar: Unknown

  • Serving: 16 fl.oz.

  • ABV: 0.5%

  • Buy: • available at online stores • check your local NA-stocked bottleshop

  • Price: $21.00 (6-pack)

Reducaholic thoughts: When I first saw this Barrel-Aged Milk Dark, I thought it was too good to be true. It sold out too quickly for me to get the first round, but I was able to first try it, several months ago, toward the end of the last winter.

This winter, I picked up several more and it reminded me why I liked it. While it is a bit thin compared to some of the fully brewed counterparts like Alesmith and Bravus Gravitas (Atmos removes the alcohol from full strength beers), its distinct flavors come out well.

The whiskey barrel-roasted taste comes through well in every sip, occasionally making me wonder if I’m drinking a fully leaded beer. Fortunately, it’s not and I can easily finish two-to-three on a cold Colorado winter night.

While not a perfect beer, it’s one of the few barrel-aged NA beers available and I personally really like it, as it hits the crucial notes of the style, helping stem the nostalgia I’ve felt for a full alcohol barrel-aged stout in my first winter without drinking alcohol.

Tyler McMahon launched Reducaholic, a resource for consumers seeking local breweries that craft their own NA beers. The website includes a U.S. brewery map with NA options, alongside an educational blog on brewing, case studies and safety. Tyler aims to help consumers discover locally made NA beers and inspire more breweries to join the movement, echoing the craft beer evolution of the last two decades.

How does Atmos Brewing describe Barrel-Aged Milk Dark: Enjoy this NA Milk Dark aged in American Bourbon Barrels for a large prominent barrel toast and whiskey aroma with dark fruit and chocolate notes in the body. The perfect way to enjoy your winter!

Learn more about Atmos Brewing Co. at

NA Cocktail


  • New York City, New York

  • Calories: 25

  • Sugar: 4g

  • Serving: 12 fl.oz.

  • ABV: 0%

  • Buy: store locator • widely availble online

  • Price: $44.99 (12-pack)

The ModSub thoughts: My go-to list of summer ready-to-drink (RTD) cocktails is starting to get lengthy, which is certainly not a bad thing. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again—companies that create these cocktails are lifesavers. For the life of me, I don’t understand why more bars and restaurants don’t pick these up and offer them on their menus. Maybe one day. Sigh.

Recess made a big splash a few years back with their CBD and adaptogen-infused sparkling waters. At a time when everyone and their dog were introducing CBD drinks, Recess was at the front of the pack. Seeing the emerging nonalcoholic drink space start to grow rapidly, Recess surveyed their customers, discovering that 70% were drinking their beverages in place of alcohol. A test run of a limited-release margarita quickly sold out.

By March of last year, the company was ready to expand into the nonalcoholic drinks space by releasing four zero-proof RTD cocktails in the form of a Watermelon “Mojito,” a Lime “Margarita,” a Grapefruit “Paloma,” and a Ginger Lime “Mule.” All contain guayusa, L-theanine, and lemon balm powder. Guayusa contains a small amount of caffeine which could potentially give you a lift, while L-theanine and lemon balm are reported to alleviate stress and anxiety.

I couldn’t report any significant mood change, but the drink itself—the Watermelon “Mojito”—was a winner. I must point out that if you are looking for a hard and fast replacement for a regular mojito, you will be disappointed. Also, be warned, do not make the mistake of adding nonalcoholic rum to the mix because, believe me, that does not work.

However, if you are looking for a lightly sparkling, mint-infused tea-like cocktail with a subtle but welcome hint of watermelon and pear, then you probably need not look further than the Watermelon “Mojito.” It’s light, refreshing, and just as easy to drink as the real thing.

How does Recess describe their Watermelon “Mojito”: 0% ABV craft mocktail with uplifting guayusa & balancing adaptogens. tastes & feels like a refreshing mojito with juicy watermelon.

Learn more about Recess at

If you enjoyed this edition of The Modern Substitute then please forward it to a friend who might be interested in NA drinks.

Cheers! See you next week!

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