Just testing: six of the best alcohol-free beers

Hot on the heels of our feature about alcohol-free beers, here’s a taste test of six bestsellers

By Tim Gibson

Ah, it’s a tough life, but you know how it goes. The boss calls up and says he’s sending six bottles of beer your way. Asks if you’re prepared to sample them all and make a few tasting notes for an online feature.

    The boss calls up and says he’s sending six bottles of beer your way.  

There’s just one teeny-weeny catch: none of the beers contain alcohol. But given that it’s half three in the afternoon and you’re due to take the kids for a walk later, that’s probably just as well. No one enjoys a drunken dad on the side of the road.

So here, in no particular order (actually, that’s a lie: it goes from best to worst), are my notes on six of the UK’s bestselling alcohol-free beers. Cheers!

1) Brewdog Nanny State

If you like your ale hoppy, Nanny State won’t disappoint. It has the crisp finish of an IPA and is every bit as refreshing. Drink it after a pint of normal bitter and you’ll find it rather lacking in something. But sup it with a clear palate and you’ll be impressed by its depth of flavour.

The thing I most like about Nanny State is that it’s not too fizzy. That’s a big point in any beer’s favour so far as I’m concerned, and reflects this product’s status as a genuine craft ale. If lager’s your thing, steer clear. But if you enjoy a traditional-tasting bitter, you’ll no doubt find Nanny State fits the bill nicely.

2) Infinite Session IPA

Infinite Session makes three craft beers, and they’re all alcohol-free. The lager and the American Pale Ale are perfectly suppable, but the IPA is the pick of the bunch.

Hoppy, fresh and light, it’s a drink you can quaff all night long (as the name suggests). I found it a bit fizzier than Nanny State, and a lot less floral in flavour. It’s somewhere between a lager and a bitter, but packs a refreshing punch that makes it an ideal barbecue beer. Slips down perfectly with a burnt burger and a charred sausage.

3) Free Damm

Of the plethora of non-alcoholic lagers to hit the shelves in recent years, Free Damm is probably the finest. Drink it with a fresh mouth (i.e. not one that’s been sipping full-strength lager) and you’ll barely spot the difference between this and the real thing.

Free Damm is a bit burpy, but the same could be said of pretty much all lagers. On the plus side, it’s hugely refreshing and makes the perfect tipple for a 5pm boost on a summer’s evening. Or a 3pm boost. Or even an 11am one, for that matter…

4) Budweiser Prohibition Brew

The biggest reason Budweiser Prohibition Brew deserves a place in this list is that you can barely taste the difference between it and Bud’s regular offering. For some, that’ll serve as eloquent commentary on the merits or otherwise of American lager. But others will see this black-labelled product as a satisfyingly soft lager with a refreshing character.

I fall firmly into the latter category. I’ve always enjoyed American and Canadian lagers, despite their lack of popularity in comparison to European beers. So Bud Prohibition is a nice fit for me. If I’m going to drink an alcohol-free lager rather than an ale, this is the one I’d choose.

5) Heineken 0.0

Heineken’s non-alcoholic offer is a stark contrast to Budweiser’s, in as much as it feels every inch the European lager. Trouble is, as with one-time market-leader Becks Blue, you really can taste the difference in comparison with the full-strength offering.

That’s not to say Heineken 0.0 isn’t perfectly drinkable. But it definitely feels like a compromise choice, in a way that products like Nanny State and Bud Prohibition don’t. You’ll know you’ve gone alcohol free with this beer.

6) Birra Moretti Zero

I had such high hopes for Birra Moretti’s alcohol-free offering, but it just didn’t hit the spot. By far my favourite lager when drunk at full strength, this product didn’t taste right at all. It was too fizzy, too sticky and just too lacking in flavour for me to enjoy. The post-swig burps were even more unpleasant.

As with Heineken, the problem may be the sharp contrast between this and the beer it’s meant to replicate. Whatever the reason, this is one non-alcoholic beer I’ll definitely be steering clear of.

© 2020 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

Published: 24 March 2020

If you enjoyed this article, you may like: Why alcohol-free beer may be the perfect summer tipple

You may also enjoy: Just Testing: Smokin’ Tom’s barbecue tips

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