11 Local Substitutes to Beer and Wine

A list of our favorite ale alternatives

Photo by John Anderson

We're not saying that Merlot is meh or that beer is blasé, but the long days ahead are too long and hot for our usual full-bodied booze. And one can only chug so much Tecate and pickle-flavored Twang before needing something a little different. Besides, a whole slew of local beverage companies are doing their part to make sure we have options. To celebrate our eternal summer, we've compiled a list of our favorite ale alternatives that'll bring the party to a river float, earn you style points poolside, or simply liven up the second shower of the day.


Austin Eastciders Blood Orange

Move over, pineapple cider! (Just kidding, we will never not love the pineapple!) But the newest addition to the Eastciders fam has us swooning over citrus. Another bonus? It's the same size as a beer can, so you can still flaunt your prized camouflage Buc-ee's koozie.

5% ABV

12-ounce cans

Mighty Swell Sparkling Cocktails

Not long ago, It's Always Sunny had us cracking up over the idea of wine in a can. Well, joke's on them, because everyone's doing it now – unironically and with mild to moderate sophistication. Made with real juice and pure cane sugar, these sparkling fruit-based wines come in peach, lemon, grapefruit, and mango.

5% ABV

12-ounce cans

Texas Keeper Cider Grafter Rosé

What to do when you wanna #roseallday but also #ciderallnighter? You grab this ingenious blend of heirloom apples and vintage grapes and head to the greenbelt. Just be sure to pour it into your shatterproof Nalgene and leave the pretty, swing-top glass bottle at home where you can't party-foul it.

8.3% ABV

750mL bottles

Meridian Hive Mead

There was a time when our enjoyment of mead was limited to the Sherwood Forest Faire, but now the lightly carbonated honey drink from Meridian Hive is readily available within city limits, its five flavors ranging from off-dry to sweet. Ingredients like orange blossom honey, blackberries, ginger, cinnamon, and hops are arming the craft mead revolution, and our taste buds are winning. Huzzah!

6.5% ABV

12-ounce cans

Just Add Ice

Austin Cocktails

These batched concoctions take the guesswork out of bartending so you can focus on perfecting your cannonball Boomerang instead. Currently, four vodka drinks (including a cucumber vodka mojito and a tropical sipper called Paradise Found) and the tequila-based bergamot orange margarita are offered. Shake with ice and strain into a glass or serve on the rocks.

10.3-12.5% ABV

750mL bottle

Argus Cidery Tepache Especial

The lightly effervescent, somewhat probiotic beverage made from fermented pineapple rinds is common in Mexican households, but only recently commercially available in Austin thanks to the Argus Cidery. It's best enjoyed over ice with a splash of agave nectar and a spicy salt rim (mix equal parts chile powder and kosher salt).

7.2% ABV

750mL bottle

Texas Saké Company

OK, so technically this could fit in the "Grab-and-Go" section below, but we recommend adding rocks and Topo Chico to their Whooping Crane filtered saké for a summery spritzer. The locally made, organic Japanese rice wine could also work in the "Just Add Booze" section at right – just visit the tasting room and sample their saké cocktails for some inspiration.

~16% ABV

750mL bottle

Just Add Booze

Barbecue Wife Bloody Mary Mix

Catherine Stiles is the eponymous barbecue wife (you might recognize the surname from a certain North Lamar establishment), and she discovered that a bit of her husband's signature sauce brought magic to her homemade Bloody Mary/Maria recipe. It also moonlights as a michelada mix and you'll even find a recipe on their website for Barbecue Wife Texas chili. Is there anything this mixer can't do?

Luchador Lime Margarita Mix

This margarita mix is legit. Not only does it save you the hassle of sourcing all the components of a scratch-made marg (what does one do with all that leftover triple sec anyway?). Simply juice a lime and add your favorite tequila ... your friends won't know you didn't do the hard work yourself.

SoCo Ginger Beer

Alongside OG ginger, this South Congress brewery is constantly rolling out seasonal flavors like jalapeño-lime, blackberry, and hibiscus. Sold in 32-ounce growlers, this spicy nonalcoholic brew makes a mean pomegranate Moscow Mule (add vodka and lime) or honey-orange Dark 'n' Stormy (add dark rum and lime).

Liber & Co. Cocktail Syrups

For the discerning drinkers among us, there's a line of quality cocktail syrups and shrubs to complete our home bar supply. Liber & Co.'s classic gum syrup makes a perfect daiquiri (add dark rum and lime), passion fruit syrup queues up a killer hurricane (add dark rum and lemon), and orgeat almond syrup means you can impress friends with tiki drinks like Mai Tais (add rum, OJ, and lime) and swizzles.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle