Alcohol Free? Not Usually for Me…

Traditionally, I’ve found alcohol free beer to be quite thin and tasteless. However, things seem to be moving on and brewers are looking at ways to produce low alcohol beer which is designed to taste more like it’s alcohol bearing equivalent.

The first decent tasting low alcohol beer I have had is Nanny State by Brewdog. Brewdog are renowned for heavily hopped beers and Nanny State is no exception. Although it does taste like a hoppy beer, there is little sweetness for balance so it can be a bit of an acquired taste. I’ve known people to use cordial juice to add a sweet hit to make this easier on the palate. Personally, I do like this one though and it fits nicely into Brewdog’s portfolio of super hopped beers.

More recently, brewers have come on the scene who specialise in low alcoholic beers. Most notably in the UK are Big Drop Brewing Co. who are based in Maidenhead and exclusively brew low alcohol beer. They do it well too, with their Stout winning a silver medal at World Beer Awards and a gold medal at the World Beer Challenge. Their Pale is also award winning, a gold at the World Beer Awards. I’ve tried the stout myself and it is really tasty, chocolate and coffee flavours with a lingering light bitterness; better than some higher strength stouts I’ve had! Big Drop have set a high bar in the UK’s low alcohol beer scene. They have also recently added two more beers to their portfolio, a Lager and a Spiced ale, both of which I look forward to trying.

Big Drop do have a UK competitor, in the form of Nirvana Brewery, who are based in Leyton, London. Like Big Drop, Nirvana only produce low alcoholic beers. They currently have a portfolio of three beers, Karma pale ale, Kosmic stout and Tantra pale ale, although I have yet to have the opportunity to try these.

Online beer retailers are also broadening their low alcohol beer choice. For example, Beerhawk have enough choice now to be able to offer a mixed case. The low alcohol beers available here are brewed in Europe and I tried some of these recently too.

I would certainly recommend the Tap 3 from Schneider Weisse, which has plenty of flavour including lemon and wheat, with a creamy body, this one could easily pass as an alcoholic wheat beer. Also on the recommended list is Franziskaner Weissbier AlkoholFrei, which tastes like a sweet wheat beer and Erdinger AlkoholFrei which reminds me of a unique low alcohol beverage I have had in Lithuania called Kvass, which has a sweet bread flavour.

The final two that I had were AND UNION’s Der Graf von Bayern which had an aroma of fresh bread and a fresh, clean, lager-like taste, and Alkoholfrei from Veltins which I thought was a bit more what I had come to expect from alcohol free beers – lacking in much flavour.

So, there are some pretty decent low alcohol beers out there and although they won’t appeal to everyone, it’s a perfect way for non-drinkers to try beer. For those drinkers who do like to explore differing styles and strengths, now might be a good time to be trying low alcohol beers – some great tasting beers without the hangover!

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