Member Spotlight - Jons Mottram
Jons is British by birth but was raised in Belgium, the home of fine Trappist beers. He returned to the UK to study and for the last ten years has been living in London, where he works in marketing in the capital's growing tech scene.
Outside of work he spends a lot of time playing tennis, which has proved to be a welcome break after spending hours and hours on Zoom all day, every day. Rickety and wobbly home gyms are one thing, but getting outside in the fresh air is something totally different.
Food and drink also take up a lot of his time, either trying to get out to see friends in local eateries or, more commonly, hosting dinner parties when they've been able to. Lockdown has certainly done wonders for his cooking and plating abilities!
Jons has always enjoyed a nice drink. Growing up between Belgium and France, good beer and fine wine were never far away. On family trips to Scotland, he also acquired a taste for single malts. Moving to the UK for the first time was a little bit of a culture shock for him – it felt like quantity and price of alcohol was more of a thing than the quality. He really struggled with the balance in those first few years.
Jons started to become more aware of his consumption in recent years, and realised that it was more motivated by habit than true enjoyment. The various lockdowns certainly expedited this realisation as post-work beers at home became more frequent, but without the exercise to burn them off. It was clear he needed something both less toxic for his body and containing fewer calories.
He and his partner took the approach of trying everything they could lay their hands on, the idea being to find substitutes for a quick change, to be alcohol-free explorers. He started by trying a range of alcohol-free beers. ‘I'd been buying Rothaus' delicious Tannenzapfle for a while, but wanted to discover something other than pilsners. Big Drop and Infinite Session pale ales became more common in the fridge – both excellent.’
Moving into spring and summer last year, they felt they wanted to find something fizzy to quench their spritz needs. Things like Aecorn Bitter and the newer NoLo martini variants provided the perfect accompaniment for AF sparkling wines, like McGuigan's Zero and Freixenet's 0.0%.
The next step was to find good spirits, either for cocktails or standalone drinks on the rocks. They found out about and signed up to Pourwell to help with that. Jons said, ‘The idea of a curated box on a monthly basis just adds to our growing exploration into the NoLo alcohol space.’
‘We drink far less than we used to, aiming to drink better when we do.’
As a couple they aren't fully alcohol free, they are just trying to be more mindful about their drinking. If one of them fancies a glass of wine with dinner, then that's absolutely fine. If they don't finish it, that’s also fine, it can go back in the fridge or be used in cooking later. They just make sure that there is always an alcohol-free alternative cold and ready so neither of them feels left out.
Jons says this is easier said than done, but it's also important to have the confidence to say ‘no’ to a pint or a glass of wine. It's obviously a slightly more difficult situation in pubs or restaurants with friends, mostly because the selection is still so limited when it comes to alcohol-free options. Jons is fortunate that pubs and bars near him in West London are starting to catch up, so will often have two or three different AF beers on hand. Some may even have alcohol-free spritzes. He reveals that he has been known to travel with a couple of measures of NoLo bitters in his bag to add to tonic if he knows the selection will be poor where he is going.
Another hazardous social situation they come up against are dinner parties. They have found it is best to plan ahead of time and have started taking alcohol-free drinks with them, not to keep to themselves but to share around. Some of the newer options are great and Jons says that as a friend group, ‘We've always been into introducing new food and drink to each other, why shouldn't we include alcohol free in that, too?!’ He adds, ‘A fair few of our friends now keep AF beers in the fridge on the off-chance we pop round.’