Tag Archive: 0-3% ABV


AB Inbev Belgium – Leffe: Blond 0.0% (Belgium: Low Alcohol: 0.0% ABV)

Visual: Bright yellow gold. Lots of small bubbled carbonation. Large yellow-white mound of a head.

Nose: White sugar. Wheaty. Sweet lemon. Sweet lime. Candyfloss. Dried banana.

Body: Slight sweet tea. Banana. White sugar. Sweet lemon. Syrup. Orange jelly sweets.

Finish: Lemon syrup. Sugared tea. White sugar. Light pepper. Vanilla to vanilla toffee. Later on banoffee.

Conclusion: This is an odd mix of sweet sugary Belgian beer and sweetened tea style. Yep, the low alcohol tea style notes are here again, in fact here the very sweet tea like base character really stands out.

Now Leffe has always been on the sweeter side of the varied abbey styles, and this tries to lay that on with raw sugar, and sweet lemon, sugary orange and vanilla notes. All very artificially done, sweet as heck and so very much in the character of a standard Leffe blond. Though they are, as is to be expected, much lighter due to the lower abv, and because of that the tannin and tea notes come back again a lot on the tail end.

Oddly, while the mouthfeel is nowhere as thick as a standard Leffe blond, it still is pretty solid for a zero alcohol beer – a bit thicker than most in the range. So, past that, is this any good? Eh, it is pleasant enough, and does call to the original beer’s style. Original Leffe blond was always, simple, sweet and cheerful and this is similarly artificially sweet but fun, so I’ll give it that.

Basically the tea aspect isn’t bad in itself, but it really makes you aware that this is not a standard beer and will ruin any illusion of that. It is nice enough and the first low abv beer of this style that I have encountered, but it definitely needs a lot of polish for it to be a proper stand in for an alcoholic beer.

Still, enjoyable enough as long as you know going in what it is you are getting.

Background: Low alcohol time again! Raided Beercraft‘s low alcohol selection again for this one. Leffe was one the earliest Belgian beers I tried, something which I think is a lot of people’s experience. Now, yeah, it is a bit one note compared to a lot of less mainstream abbey blonds, but I still have a bit of a soft spot for it. Oddly, I checked and this is the first Leffe I have done notes of for the blog. Huh, I used to drink tons of these. Go figure. Anyway, put n a bunch of random Crossfaith for listening to while drinking, on a huge Crossfaith kick at the mo.

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Big Drop: Citra Four Hop Special Edition Pale Ale (England: Low alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow to grain. Thin off white bubbled head.

Nose: Peach. Fresh cut apple. Cake sponge. Lime. Lemon sorbet. Very fresh. Light raspberry pavlova.

Body: Soft lime. Grapes. Slight chalk. Low to moderate hop character and bitterness. Slight peach. Tannins.

Finish: Chalk touch. Good hop bitterness and character. Soft lime. Cake sponge. Lemon cake. Apple. Dried banana. Tannins.

Conclusion: First up, the aroma on this is great. Lots of soft, fruity hop action. It is gentle, but lively in flavour. Here the beer is significantly different from the original Big Drop Pale Ale and all the better for it.

The body is more similar to its parent brew, still showing cake sponge, still a good use of hop character and soft lime notes. If you have been looking at the notes above you would probably expect me to say there is more difference than there actually is. The thing is there definitely are a range of different notes, it is just that they are not consistent, just occasional , pleasant, hiccups of flavour that pop in and out throughout the beer.

Now, the base, standard Big Drop Pale ale is one of my favourite ever low alcohol beers – this has a far better aroma, and a just slightly better body. So, of course, I love it. Again it feels like a very good beer, not just a good low alcohol beer – only some light tannin notes give away the low abv character.

So, yeah, if you get a chance to grab it this is an awesome low abv beer of character. If you can’t find it, the standard Big Drop Pale Ale is still flipping great and this isn’t so big a difference that you must hunt it out for this.

Still a nice twist on a a still awesome beer.

Background: I adore Big Drop’s Pale Ale. It is still possibly my favourite low alcohol beer, which has been getting to be an actual hard fought category over the past year, which I admit is something I never thought I would say. This is a limited version of the beer which I spotted at Beercraft. I don’t use them that much as they can be a tad expensive, but their low alcohol selection at the moment is fantastic. I put on Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues while drinking- still an utterly fantastic album.

Infinite Session: IPA (England: Low alcohol IPA: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear, light gold. A few small carbonation bubbles. Thin white head.

Nose: Light grapefruit. Wheaty hop character. Middling bitterness. Water adds fresh dough to cake sponge.

Body: Clean, lager like base. Bready hop character. Good bitterness. Slight chalk. Lightly watery. Vanilla. Very light grapefruit.

Finish: Slightly chalky. Bready bitterness and hop character. Peppery.

Conclusion: This is very, well …clean. Good hop character and bitterness but the base underneath feels like a clean lager rather than any of the many and varied things that count as IPA malt bases. So, I would say this feels more like an India Pale Lager than an IPA – for me at least. Because of that I’m going to evaluate it as an IPL as that seems fairer than treating it as the IPA it says it is.

It is a tad watery but not hugely so – generally it is a good lager like base, slightly dry and drinkable – not special but does the job. The hops are very simple – the bitterness is good and the aroma hints at grapefruit, but the body is pretty much just the hop character and bitterness, into a lightly peppery finish, with very little to add anything to that.

It’s ok, the hop feel is good, but there is no defining feel to it. I guess it does mean that none of the flavours become wearing, meaning it is sessionable, but the lack of heavy flavours also means that there is nothing to get your teeth into.

In the old days I would have rated this as a solid low alcohol beer compared to all the chemical tasting crap. These days the bar has been risen a lot, and this no longer makes the grade.

Background: Not much to say on this one, saw a four pack of it in Sainsbury‘s, thought I needed more variety in low alcohol beers for the dry days, so I grabbed a pack to give a chance. That is all. Stocking up on more low abv beers as the weather gets hotter as it is nice to have some chilled and ready just for refreshing. I put Crossfaith – Ex_machina back on for drinking this – another instance of heavy music for light beer.

Big Drop: Stout (England: Low alcohol Stout: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Moderate sized beige head.

Nose: Roasted nuts. Lactose. Milky chocolate. Praline.

Body: Good mouthfeel. Nutty. Slightly chalky. Slight charring. Earthy bitterness. Muted bitter cocoa. Sour dough. Slight teabags.

Finish: Charring. Roasted nuts. Slight chalk. Lactose. Earthy bitterness. Sports energy drinks.

Conclusion: First, to get it out of the way – No this is not as awesome as the Big Drop + Tiny Rebel collaborations stout. Then again, it is about half the price and easier to get hold of. However, this does have a few positives of its own, so let’s dig in and take a look.

One advantage this has over its fancier cousin is a slightly thicker texture, which does a fair job in negating the main flaw of low abv beers, that being a watery mouthfeel. If over chilled the extra feel is easily lost, so I’d recommend to go for this lightly chilled, and like that it holds up well.

Flavour-wise it is solid if not exceptional – nutty, muted chocolate and good lactose notes. It can be a tad chalky and charred at times, but generally a solid if not exceptional milk stout taste which seems very impressive for such a low abv.

The most evident hint of the lower abv is again a kind of teabag and tannins into slight sports energy drink notes. Nothing major as a problem, it is just something you can notice if you look for it.

Solid enough, if I was drinking alcohol I wouldn’t take it over a standard stout, but for a non drinking day this is spot on.

Background: This is the second time I’ve tried this. First was when it first came out, and I had left it in the fridge a while before drinking, like that I found it overly chalky and dull. Since then they have had time to tweak the recipe and I’ve found that low abv beers work best only slightly chilled, so I decided to grab another and give it a try. This was drunk on a stupidly warm Easter weekend. I put on Metallica – And Justice For All while drinking. Heavy music for a low abv beer. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Tiny Rebel: Big Drop: Imperial Mocha Vanilla Shot Stout (Wales: Low abv Stout: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Large beige head.

Nose: Milky coffee. Massive amounts of espresso coffee. Vanilla. Rich roasted coffee. More rounded coffee notes. Basically a lot of coffee. Milky chocolate. Hot chocolate drinks. Roasted nuts.

Body: Milky coffee. Vanilla. Quite light texture. Creamy. Lightly bitter coca. Sulphur. Tannins.

Finish: Vanilla toffee. Vanilla infused coffee. Bitter chocolate cake. Slight sulphur. Cashew nuts. Tannins.

Conclusion: Ok, Tiny Rebel claims this is the low abv equivalent of a big 12% abv imperial stout. It is not like a 12% abv stout. Ok, let’s correct that, it doesn’t have the feel of a 12% abv beer. For all the good work they do with the flavour they just can’t duplicate the viscosity of such a high abv beer without the equivalent malt load.

However, with that out of the way, if you had told me this was a 4-5% abv stout made with coffee, cocoa and vanilla? Yep, I would have believed you easily. Beyond that I would have happy recommended it as being a very good example of that style, a top notch one even. I even tested it by letting my mates try it, and they had no idea of the abv (only single blind test – I was aware of its low abv, my mates were not). This is an utterly amazing low abv beer and would be a very good standard stout, that is bloody impressive.

It has a slightly light mouthfeel, but offset by good use of a creamy note and packs in vanilla and restrained chocolate in the body before heading out into a very coffee filled finish. Now good as that is, it did not manage to live up to the aroma which gives just epic levels of coffee. I mean, based on the aroma alone you would expect this to be competing with full abv Beer Geek Brunch Weasel – unfortunately, good as it is, it is not quite that good!

The main hint of the low abv style of it is a slight tannin character, but thankfully hear that actually works very well with the stout style, turning what could be a flaw in most low abv beers into a positive instead.

Ok, yeah, this is competing with Big Drop’s Pale Ale for best low alcohol beer ever. Pale is a better anytime beer, which is often what you want from a low abv beer – however for a beer to examine, have range of flavours, and just blowing away your expectations, this is the best low abv beer I have encountered. Genuinely impressed.

Background: So, for their 7th anniversary the ever fun Tiny Rebel did a box pack of collaborations they did with various breweries. This one especially caught my attention – in collaboration with Big Drop, the master of low abv beers they did what they pitch as a low abv Imperial Stout. Yeah, silly name, but gets across the gist of what they are trying to do. This was made with oats, rye, cocoa nibs, cocoa powder…ok the text is really hard to read on the can, it’s blue on slightly darker blue. I give up. It is made with ingredients. Special ingredients. Probably vanilla pods, maybe coffee beans. I dunno. Anyway, went with some punk music for this big/small beer – Propagandhi – Victory Lap.

Big Drop: Sour (England: Low Alcohol Sour: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow and clear. Some carbonation. Short lived white head.

Nose: Wet cardboard. Lightly sour. Apple juice to cider. Wet rocks. Pears. Mild vinegar. Soft lemon.

Body: Tart and tingling. Soft lychee. Slight chalk. Mild cider. Cardboard. Mild vanilla.

Finish: Lightly bitter and charring. Vanilla. Touch. Lychee. Watery.

Conclusion: Chilled down this is fairly empty. It is lightly tart and tingling but without any real grip to it. It is watery with beer like elements floating within that. However for all it was as let down like this, there are hints of something else – slight cider apple and soft lychee notes – subtle flavours that are overpowered by the mild, but still rougher, chalk and charring notes.

So, with not much else to it, I decided to see if time and some warmth could make a difference then.

Warmth helps develop some body, giving it a slighter thicker touch that brings out soft vanilla and allows the soft lychee notes a bit more grip to work with. It is still a gentle beer, lager like it its dryness, with lightly tart and sour notes over that. Even with the aforementioned chalk and charring notes it is still gentle – no real rough edges here, which I will admit is an odd thing in a sour beer. Usually they are all prickly oddities and harsh but joyous notes.

There are light cider and light vinegar touches that would be harsher elements if they did not feel heavily watered down by the lightness of the rest of the beer. Now they are just slightly more acidic notes while gentle apple and pear notes are delivered over it.

Now warmed up it is reasonable – as mentioned a lightly sour touch over a dry lager feel with gentle tart fruit notes as the flavours. Sour beers are not a common entry in the low alcohol range, so for that I commend it – however recently Mikkeller did their low abv take on “Hallo Ich Bin Berliner Weisse” and that set a new bar for low alcohol sour beers. So, while this is ok, dry, drinkable and refreshing it is not a patch on that low abv wonder.

Had cool this is very weak, with warmth it is ok but unexciting outside of its unusual place in the low alcohol drink range. So, ok, but with a lot of room to grow better.

Background: I tried this a short while ago, picked up from Beercraft, but did not do notes at the time. This time it was grabbed from Independent Spirit. I’ve been digging Big Drop’s low alcohol beers, especially their pale ale, and wanted to see how their sour did and how it has progressed since the first batch. Drunk on an otherwise non drinking night I put on one of Eels live albums – “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” while drinking – nice gentle tunes. Always like The Eels’ live stuff -each tour they play old songs in the style of their most recent album so it feels like a fresh experience each time.

Thornbridge: Big Easy (England: Low Alcohol Pale Ale: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale lager yellow-gold colour. Small white head. Only a small amount of carbonation.

Nose: Soft pineapple and lychee. Soft kiwi and lime. Moderate hop character and low bitterness. Vanilla. Fresh orange juice.

Body: Chalky. Soft lychee. Fizzy feel. Dry malt character. Moderate hops and bitterness.

Finish: Fizzy. Chalk. Lychee. Moderate hop prickle and charring.

Conclusion: This doesn’t stand chilling down well – a light cooling works ok, but any more than that and it can get a tad rough, empty and temperamental.

Ok, that is jumping in at the end, let’s wind things back a bit. The aroma on this is very nice indeed – soft fruit notes like falling apart lychee and pineapple chunks make up the core with a few gentle green and orange notes around the edges.

Of that the soft lychee is the main element that actually makes it through to the main body, and this brings us back to the start of the notes, as this is where the issue with chilling comes in. A tad too cool and it just feels chalky, fizzy and rough. The gentle flavours seem to need at least a little warmth to give them some grip.

Warmer it still has a rough touch, but it feels more like a hop bite than an off note, which lends a reasonable “beer” feel to this low alcohol drink. So, it is ok, not as good as the rest of the fantastic new wave of low alcohol beers that has come recently, but its gentler take on flavours is interesting. A lot of low alcohol beers go as big and booming as they can to compensate for the lack of abv body. Going for a gentle tart and citrus touched beer with a light hop bite is a commendable goal to go for to make something different.

It is not quite there yet. It is ok when warmer, but I hope they work with this one, as if they can master it, it will be a very welcome entry in the low alcohol range.

Background: Low alcohol time again! Healthy low alcohol drink day. Thankfully low alcohol beers are actually good these days, which makes life so much easier for beer fans like me. I’ve had a few bottles of Thornbridge’s low alcohol take but not really examined it, so after grabbing a few more bottled from Independent Spirit I decided to properly put it under the microscope. Put on The Germs for listening to while drinking – been a while since I’ve pulled out their stripped down, real DIY punk tracks for a listen.

Mikkeller: Henry and His Science #1 (Denmark: Low Alcohol: 0.3% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow to grain. Medium white head. Small bubbled carbonation in the body.

Nose: Jiff lemon. Wheaty. Fresh. Lime cordial. Soft milk. Slight hop prickle.

Body: Lucozade. Chalk touch. Strawberry. Lemon curd. Fluffy hop middle. Hop oils. Lime cordial. Malt toffee. Golden syrup.

Finish: Lemon hard sweets. Lucozade. Strawberry. Lemon curd. Vanilla toffee.

Conclusion: This is not 100% beer feeling – it is about 50% glucose energy drink and 50% beer. Which is a bloody odd experience let me tell you.

The lucozade energy drink style elements are the first hit – sweet, slightly syrup tasting, though not in texture, and sugary. The citrus notes that make up the more beer side of things come in after, lemon and lime notes – very fresh and backed by very subtle fluffy hop feel and hop oils that are the most direct beer feeling element but very subtle. There is a slight chalk grounding touch but that again is very mild

Like a lot of low abv beers it seems to find it difficult to create that elusive “Beer” texture and taste – but here it feels like the beer leans into that, creating a distinctly different drink that uses the low abv to create something new in the beer arena rather than trying to replicate what came before.

Soft strawberry notes develop over time, along with a recognisable, if subtle, toffee sweet backing. The hops lean tart and fresh in a NZ hop style which helps quench the sweetness and make the beer easy to drink.

As an attempt to replicate other beer styles in a low abv I would have to call this a failure. As an attempt to use low abv to create a beer influenced experience that stands on its own two feet this is lovely. Lots of flavour, lots of tart notes and sweet notes, and all just about recognisable as beer touched if nothing else.

Very easy to drink, tasty, and low abv – I’m happy with that.

Background: Low abv beer time again! Along with Big Drop Brewing, Mikkeller are at the forefront of low abv beers in my opinion. Though I think they have a brewery in the USA now, this is one of their “Gypsy brewing” style ones, still done by contract brewing in other breweries. Anyway, this was a nice one on a night when I didn’t want to kick off anything heavy, but felt like a beer. I’d had it a few times before so had a good idea of what to expect going in. Put on some Mclusky while drinking, love their out there, rough sounding, awesome music. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Mikkeller: Hallo Ich Bin Mikkeller Berliner Weisse – Alkoholfrei (Denmark: Low alcohol Berliner Weisse: 0.1% ABV)

Visual: Yellow to pale lemon body. Small bubbled carbonation and a large mound of sud leaving head.

Nose: Lemon. Very fresh and tart. Nutty. Sour lime. Lightly milky. Tart apples. Slight sour sulphur funk.

Body: Lemon. Strawberry. Acidic apple meets lactose thickness. Lightly acidic in general. Tart grapes. Subtle vanilla toffee.

Finish: Soft vanilla. Apples. Gooseberry. Acidic touch. Mild raspberries. Slight metallic tang. Sprite.

Conclusion: Ok, I don’t know how they did it, but at 0.1% abv Mikkeller has knocked this one right out of the park.

It is a refreshing, lightly acidic and tart beer, and goes down oh so easily. It is slightly thinner in mouthfeel than a full abv sour, but still manages a nice lactose like grip that makes it compare well with much higher abv beers in its grip and ability to deliver the flavour.

The flavour benefits wonderfully from the lightly acidic character, giving an almost illusionary set of light tart notes float across your tongue as the acidity interacts with the other elements of the beer. There is the expected imagery of lemon and grapes, but also it develops into dancing strawberry and raspberry notes that reward you in every sip.

Now, it doesn’t have that much to round out the tart freshness and fruit, so not a beer to contemplate, but as a summer refresher this is amazing. Lightly sweet with it, it is easy pleasing and easy drinking.

Now if you want a real tart, mouth tingling berliner weisse then I will admit this is not it – it is instead a gentle and lovely thing, and so not one to challenge you. However for quality it sits alongside Big Drop’s Pale Ale – the sour equivalent in the awesome low abv beer league.

Highly recommended.

Background: This is another of my dive into low abv beers, and Mikkeller have a very good track record on those so far. This was another one I tried first from Beercraft but didn’t do notes, but added a few bottles into an order I did from BeerHawk so I could revisit it. Like some previous Mikkeller beers, this is a low abv version of a beer that already exists with the same name. Because that isn’t confusing. Berliner Weisse beers are generally not high abv, but this is the first time I had seen one anywhere near this low abv, so was unsure how well it would work. Put on some old school tunes for this – the classic that is The Clash – London Calling!

To Øl: Sur Tangerine/Mosaic Lemonade Shandy (Denmark: Shandy: 2.8% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow. Fast small bubbled carbonation. Medium sized loose white head.

Nose: Tangerine. Flour. Wheaty bitterness. Peppery. Fresh white bread. Tart grapes. Sprite.

Body: Fizzy. Lightly chalky. Lightly sour. Lightly acidic. Lemon. Dried mango. Dried tangerine.

Finish: Chalky. Fresh feeling air. White grapes. Gritty bitterness. Traditional lemonade. Mandarin orange. Acidic air. Lemon juice. Light guava. Dried apricot. Charred notes

Conclusion: I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this, which is kind of appropriate in a way, as I’m drinking it now and I’m not quite sure what I’ve got.

It is kind of generically sour at first, but quite chalky with that which gives a rough rather than a refreshing edge. It has light lemon and grape fresh notes, but shortly after a more identifiable set of orange fruit notes come along – both in a fresh front and more clinging and dry behind.

That mix of elements seems to be the duality that is the issue at the heart of this beer. It has the bright notes from the hops, all orange and tart, which is matched to a drinkably low abv and the lemonade tangerine characteristics, but the chalk note and matching, long lasting, slightly gritty bitterness really work against those positives and make it harder to drink.

It isn’t terrible, which is enough to make me keep thinking that the hops are going to manage to save this beer and smooth out the rough notes. But they don’t. The hop use does bring big flavour from the well used Mosaic hop, which is impressive considering the low abv, but for all that works well when you reach the finish it leads out all dry and charred.

Interesting and even good up front, but gets rougher as it goes on and ends up going against its best elements in the finish. It doesn’t land what it aims to do and I cannot recommend it.

Background: This was a bit of a spur of the moment purchase, it is also the first shandy to have notes done on this site! I saw it as a sour beer at lower abv, with tangerine like flavours and only on closer inspection saw that it was a shandy. So I thought “Fuck it, let’s give it a go, To Øl tend to be solid”. So, it is a mosaic hop sour session IPA mixed with tangerine lemonade. Sure, makes perfect sense. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to The Eels: Live and In Person. I’ve seen The Eels live a few times live, and each show had a radically different feel, with old tunes redone in the style of new albums, so I always like their live albums.

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