Tag Archive: 0-3% ABV

The Kernel London Sour Raspberry
The Kernel: London Sour: Raspberry (England: Berliner Weisse: 2.9% ABV)

Visual: Beautiful deep hazy strawberry red. Red fizzing head that vanishes quickly. Good level of carbonation in the body.

Nose: Tart raspberry. Light acidic apple. Strawberry yogurt. Twigs. Lemon sherbet.

Body: Sparkling and dry. Dry raspberry. Bitter middle. Tonic water. Light strawberry. White wine. Lemon.

Finish: Dry white wine. Dry raspberry. Tonic water. Lemon slices. Sulphur. Light salt. Mild apple cider.

Conclusion: I’ve given this time to warm up, lest it be the chill that is affecting it, but no, this still tastes kind of empty in the middle.

Good start, eh?

The aroma is great, with softly done acidic and tart fruit – a grace that matches the beauty of the deep red body. That body, when sipped, is like dry white wine with subtle fruit floating within.

Now it actually is sounding really good, right?

It really plies the dryness, tingling in the mouth and giving a clean teeth feel as the acidity strips them down. It has the mouthfeel just right. Problem is that the wine like notes are a backdrop, and the fruit burst is too short and it leaves you with just a middle that feels like tonic water with a slice of lemon in it. Just slightly murky, slightly sharp, but not doing too much in there. When the raspberry is rising it does the job nicely, but that experience is too intermittent to be relied on.

The finish especially ends up feeling just like tonic water,and feeling that way for so very long – normally a long finish is a good thing, but you need positive notes to last out with. The fruit needs more presence, or the base to have more character, or something.

The best bit is probably the start of each sip, when the fruit hits clear and refreshingly – everything after that is downhill. I seem to be going against the trend of opinion on this one it seems – I don’t think it works too well. The end feels slightly salty, like a gose, but without all the character that a gose brings to match that.

To be fair to the beer I did then try it with cheesecake, and the contrast does help, making the lighter notes more evident, but overall I would say avoid; The rest of the internet says they love it. So, take your pick and take your chance I guess.

Background: Apparently this was very popular when it was on tap at Collona and Hunter, me, I just grabbed it at Independent Spirit as I had never tried a sour from The Kernel and wondered how they would do. The Kernel are a solid brewery that I tend to turn to more on tap than in bottles. I am not as big fan of them as many, preferring Wiper and True who I refer to as “The Kernel of west country”, but still a good brewery. According to rate beer this is in their top 50 Berliner Weisses. Huh. Drunk while listening to a random mix of tunes for general chilling.

Bredog All Day Long

Brewdog: Prototype: All Day Long (Scotland: Mild Ale: 2.7% ABV)

Visual: Burnished toffee colour. Half an inch of creamy off white froth that leaves suds.

Nose: Toffee and caramel. Good hops of citrus character. Moderate bitterness. Chocolate.

Body: Toffee. Grapes. Moderate prickling hop character. Malt chocolate. Soft elderberry. Pineapple.

Finish: Choc orange. Moderate bitterness and hops. Popcorn. Prickly. Slight greenery. Toffee.

Conclusion: Ok, let’s get this out of the way. Mikkeller’s Drink in the Sun is a way more awesome beer. That is just the way of the world. Ok they are very different beers, but they are both in the lower abv milieu. But, just because another beer is better doesn’t mean that this is bad though.

It is fruit, and yet mellow. It is at the higher end of the low abv beer range, and it sure does use that part well, the toffee and caramel malt flavours really come through. Even better that small amount of extra malt makes for a much better base for the hops to work from, in fact better so than the lower end of the Russian Doll range did – and they had a lot more malt to play with.

The hops themselves are a nice bitter prickle with grapes and easy going citrus. Nothing too intense – unlike, say Nanny State, but a nice complement to the malt which is the main deal -as is to be expected for a mild – even an unusual one like this.

It is pretty soothing, definitely more soothing than exciting, though it doesn’t exactly lack for flavour – more lacks in bite. Still, as a session beer you may want something more easy going.

I’m actually pretty partial to it – the extra malt is used well to give it a distinctly different style to their other low abv beers, and it works very hard to justify the extra abv it is using – and that gives a much more balanced beer. Well worth building on inb my opinion.

Background: A low abv beer from Brewdog as the third of the 2014 set of prototypes – Which is of interest to me, I love the high abv mad beers, but it is nice to have some choice at the lower end of the spectrum. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. This was drunk while listening to some Svalbard. Yes again.

Blitz Passion
Brewdog: Blitz: Passion (Scotland: Berliner Weisse: 2.8% ABV)

Visual: Hazy apricot. Small dust of off white bubbles. No evident carbonation.

Nose: Dried mango. Sour grapes. Stewed apricot. Acidic, with soft lemon.

Body: Fresh. Acidic apple. Passion fruit. Stewed banana. Slight chalky touch. Dried mango.

Finish: Tart apples. Soft passion fruit. Chalky and acidic mix. Dried mango.

Conclusion: My views on this changed a bit over the period of drinking, not in quality, but in style. Initially this seemed to be one of the tartest of the Blitz beers I had encountered. Quite surprisingly so as passion fruit is not something I associate with tartness. It could, of course, be that time has just eroded my memory of the sharpness of the others.

As I say, I have never associated passion fruit with tart, but here it delivers. Either that or it just doesn’t get in the way of the base berliner weisse and therefore allows it to express more of its character.

The fruit does seem to have its own separate character away from the sharpness, which seems to back this hypothesis. It is this kind of thick stewed fruit character. There is obviously passion fruit in the flavour, but also dried mango and stewed apricot characteristics. It is quite soothing in the middle of the beer, contrasting the sharp cider like introduction and exit. It is both a moment of relief and a release.

As I get used to the beer the character changes, the heavy sharpness and tartness soften significantly, making me wonder if it was just initial shock that made it seem so sour. In fact, when you get use to it, the softness of the middle becomes less a release, and more a point for greatest exploration of the flavour.

It is an interesting progression, which first wakes you up, and then soothes you down, for an always refreshing and yet surprisingly easy going drink by the end. More sessionable than you would initially think – it’s closest comparison is the Brodies vs Brewdog Berliner Weisse, but it doesn’t quite reach those high levels. The fact that it is close enough makes it something worth appreciating. Sharp, then mellow, and always very nice.

Background: I have also seen this listed as Blitz Passionfruit. No that doesn’t really make a difference but I have to put something in this section. The latest in an ongoing lien of berliner weisse beers with added fruit. So far they have been pretty good. I think I mentioned before, for ages I thought I hated berliner weisse beers as the first time I had them they made my mouth feel like pure agony. Turns out I had a cavity and pouring a quite acidic beer into that didn’t help. Anyway, I eventually realised my mistake, and now can enjoy the slightly odd style with ease. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

Cobra Zero

Coors UK: Cobra: Zero (England: Low Alcohol Lager: 0% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow. Moderate bubbled head.

Nose: Dry cake sponge. Malt loaf. Wet cardboard. Wort.

Body: Lime. Cake sponge. Wet cardboard. Wort. Sulphur.

Finish: Cardboard. Wet air. Granite. Sulphur.

Conclusion: 3.4 seconds. That is how long this beer had me fooled. 3.4 seconds. Rounded to one decimal place. You see, despite an indifferent aroma, the first few seconds of this beer sitting on my tongue showed some appeal.

There was a Czech crisp character, a touch of lime, and hints of well used pilsner hop styling. Yeah, 3.4 seconds that lasted. Then the actual beer hit. Well, I say beer, this thing is more like the wort you get in a mash tun. Indistinct, vaguely malty and rough flavour. Here it is “backed” by the joys of wet cardboard and granite. Worse still they have another element from wort, that kind of sulphur element, here it is possibly best described as if someone just farted in your beer.

No that isn’t a compliment. Not even if you have a fart fetish.

Anyway, this shouldn’t have been a surprise to me. The rough wort character was there from first sniff, I was just trying to give it the benefit of the doubt. Giving it a chance to impress me. It didn’t.

It feels unfinished, unpleasant, and hangs around far too long. I’ve both heard and used the term “wet cardboard” before, but never as appropriately as here. It tastes bitter like chewing on bitter leaves rather than like hops, and gives nothing worth a damn past that 3.4 seconds. No it isn’t worth it for those 3.4 seconds.

It is like someone scooped unfinished wort out, then chemically extracted the alcohol, as if they were impatient to get this crap away from them as quickly as they could.

And for that alone I can’t blame them.

Background: So, I was in the supermarket. All my usual low abv beers had sold out. So, I thought I would experiment – what is the worst that could happen? Anyway, despite what I think may be Sanskrit on the bottle ( I looked up and couldn’t find an exact match but it looked close to one of the words for snake) this is brewed in the UK. I’m shocked, shocked I say. Anyway, after grabbing it I hear that apparently recent Cobra advertising has been pretty darn sexist. I’ve not managed to find the advert so I couldn’t say myself. Probably for the best, I don’t need more things to piss me off. This was drunk while listening to Bratmobile – Pottymouth. Yes I’m back on a riot girl punk kick again.

Blitz Redcurrant

Brewdog: Blitz Redcurrant (Scotland: Berliner Weisse: 2.1% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold. Half inch of white tight bubbled head that leaves suds. Moderate carbonation.

Nose: Ribena and earth. Lemon.

Body: Sharp. Red berries. Sour tang. Lime cordial. Cake sponge. Sour apples. Light funky yeast or cheese puffs character. Late on some cheesecake.

Finish: Lime cordial. Red berries. Tart. Apples. Sour lemon. Sour grapes.

Conclusion: I’m hiding from summer and its accompanying sun, but at least I can take advantage of the summer beers. Let’s find out if it is worth the trade off.

This has a nice balance in its use of refreshing sharpness, it isn’t mouth puckering, but simply enlivening. I was unsure of how well the redcurrent would be shown, due to the colour of the beer, but it is there, pocked amongst lemon and lime cordial and tart apples. So, not the dominant force, but they combine to make a refreshing base.

There is a bit of fun with the texture, a kind of cheese puff or Belgian yeastie character that gives a bit more grip and lets the beer have a bit of grounding to counter the sharpness.

While you get a very ribena like aroma, the red fruit mid body is definitely just an element, not the defining element, so I couldn’t recommend the beer if it is the redcurrant that made it appeal to you. Of all the blitzes, this is the one that seems to show the most of the raw beer’s character.

However if you just want a refreshing summer drink, that happens to have some tasty bit of red fruit to it. then this is very nice. The base calls more to an easy going lambic than a harsher berliner weisse, it reminds me a bit of Mikkellers spontanale. As you go along the beer expresses a different range of soft fruit and at the end even some cheesecake notes.

Very refreshing, enough notes to be interesting, balanced, and very low abv as well. This doesn’t quite justify summer’s existence, but it does a lot to help it go by.

Background: I am currently campaigning for the sun to be banned. On account of it being evil. Enforcement and the survival of the entire species may be an issue of I succeed, but I still think it is a worthy goal. Which is my way of saying it was a warm day in Bristol when I tried this. This is the latest of Brewdog’s varied berliner weisse with fruit beers, which have generally been enjoyable so far.

Sainsbury Low Alcohol Czech Lager

Staropramen: Sainsbury’s Czech Low Alcohol Pilsner Lager (Czech Republic: Low Alcohol Pilsner: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear yellow grain. Moderate carbonation. Had a white head, but by the time I had finished kicking my errant camera it had nearly vanished.

Nose: Wet cardboard.

Body: Moderate malt. Slightly chalky. Soft vanilla and palma violets. Light bitterness. Cereal grain. Soft lemon and fruit very late on in the beer.

Finish: Vanilla. Dry. Dried banana touch. Palma violets. Soft lemon on pancakes.

Conclusion: A low alcohol beer night. Because obviously I know how to par-tay! After having been to Prague I figured the best way to recreate that feeling was with a low abv beer from a supermarket brand*.

*warning, some unnecessary sarcasm may be in use.

It is kind of an empty beer. Thankfully not chemically, not an abomination against all things good and proper. Just…empty. There is just about enough to identify it as that elusive pilsner character. Just about. There is a soft palma violet vibe, and an ease of drinking to it. The bitterness is way below the expected level, but on mouthfeel it isn’t terribly done.

I am damning with faint praise aren’t I? It’s intentional.

There just isn’t a huge amount to it. A light kind of grain cereal flavour, some vanilla sweetness to round off the edges. At least it is better than the aroma, which is basically wet cardboard.

It is effectively inoffensive, nowhere near as bad as say Tesco Value Lager or as chemically as Becks Alcohol Free. Also not huge and flavoursome like Drink in the Sun/Snow. It is just, well, there. Beer feeling and lager tasting, but not much more than that.

Late on it does manage some soft fruit, so manages to touch base with enough elements to say it is a Czech Pilsner, but they are so lightly done that it is nowhere near a well crafted one. At 0.5% abv I would think I was being picky, if I had not tried so much better examples.

I guess it keeps your hand off stronger beers if you are driving, and it just about calls to Czech Pilsners so you don’t hate drinking it.

So, ok, not terrible, but far from any form of excitement that a beer should bring.

Background: looking at rate beer apparently this is identical to, or very close to Staropramen Nealko. Never tried it, couldn’t say. Anyway, after coming back from Prague and their excellent Bohemian Pilsners, I saw this. and because I obviously wanted to shit all over my memories I bought a few bottles. Well, it was more that I like to keep an eye out for low abv beers that don’t actually suck. Some of them actually do exist. So I thought I would give this a try. Drunk while listening to some “Hate In The Box”, which may give an impression of my expectations for this beer.

Blitz Sour Cherry

Brewdog: Blitz Sour Cherry (Scotland: Berliner Weisse: 2.1% ABV)

Visual: Clear reddened amber. Dash of off white head.

Nose: Musty cherries. Twigs. Sour. Vinegar touch. Horse blankets.

Body: Sour cherries. Twigs. Sucked cherry stones. Dry. Cheeseboard feel after time but not matching flavour.

Finish: Sour cherries. Musky. Ginseng.

Conclusion: OK, I have a line in the sand drawn. Not just for sourness in my beers, but how it is delivered. I’ve come to very much enjoy Rodenbach Grand Cru, Cantillon and various Berliner Weisses. This, however, hits my line and passes it. It is the aroma more than anything else, almost vinegar in delivery at times. The body is sheer sour cherries sucked off the stone, but without any of the contrasting sweetness to play with.

You do acclimatise over time, but the odd complexities that often come with this kind of sour beer never really develops here. A pity, it almost begs for some of those shimmering extra flavours to come out and give it some extra depth.

You do get a bit of a change over time though, late on it somehow develops a subtle sweetness which is much needed and gives a bit of extra good grace to the beer. It gives a kind of cherry crumble effect which is much appreciated.

The base sour cherry is well defined and suits a Berliner weisse well when you get used to it. It really does need something else though to make it more than the short sharp shock that it is. At the abv a bit of extra play would make it a perfect summer session refresher.

As is it is a bit single note, and a bit too sour for me. A nice wake up call to break up a run, but I can’t imagine having more than a half. As is I don’t even find it too great as a beer myself. However when that extra sweetness comes out I think it will suit some of you a bit better than me.

For me though, not a favourite.

Background: Third in the Blitz series. Ok fourth if you include the original prototype blitz, but that beer had nothing in common with these, Berliner weisse based beers. I had enjoyed the previous two beers to varying degrees so was looking forwards to giving this a shot. Incidentally, drinking this beer made me realise I had a small cut on my lip. Not the best way to find that out but effective. Drunk at Brewdog Bristol. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

Drink In The Snow

Mikkeller: Drink In The Snow (Denmark: Low Alcohol: 0.3% ABV)

Visual: Dark reddened brown. Coffee froth brown head.

Nose: Roasted. Bitter chocolate. Bitter coffee. Nuts.

Body: Slight chalk. Tannins. Treacle. Sweet chocolate. Syrup. Coffee.

Finish: Chocolate liquore. Treacle. Tannins. Coffee. Greenery. Slightly roasted.

Conclusion: This is possibly the greatest low abv beer I have ever tried. That may seem like it is being damned by faint praise, but considering there has been quite some competition of the position recently it is intended as praise indeed.

The aroma is pure porter, roasted elements, coffee, chocolate, it delivers exactly what you would expect from that style. I would defy most people to be able to pick it from a range of standard quality porters by aroma alone, it is spot on.

The body is not quite so awesome, mainly because there is a limit on how thick you can get the body at this abv, or so it seems. However within those limits you get a slightly syrupy chocolate, bitter coffee, treacle and even a slight chalkiness. I have seen many a full abv porter that have delivered less. It isn’t perfect, a touch too syrupy and a few tannins notes that are out of place, but basically it is a very serviceable dark beer with great porter notes.

As a normal beer I would be calling this good, but without any qualities that make it stand out above the herd. At this abv? Wow, I take my hat off to the brewers. This just blew my mind and my expectations of what can be done with beer.

I have a dozen of these yet to get through this winter and I am looking forwards to them. This is the perfect beer for when you can’t have a beer. The bar for low abv beers has been raised and everyone else must play catch up.

Background: I have been enjoying sampling a few low abv beers recently, and Mikkellers drink in the sun range have been near the top of the heap. So when I saw this, the dark winter version, in Brewdog’s guest beer section I grabbed a bunch. Mikkeller turn out a vast number of beers each year, and don’t even have a brewery, instead hiring time at different breweries to produce their beers.

Blitz Raspberry

Brewdog: Blitz Raspberry (Scotland: Berliner Weisse Fruit Beer: 3% ABV)

Visual: Hazy brown to apricot. Thin brown to off white head.

Nose: Tart lemon. Raspberry. Stewed apple crumble with sugar dusting. Stewed apricot. Rose wine and a perfumed touch.

Body: Tart. Tart apples. Spritzy. Sweet raspberry and ice cream syrup. White wine. Cider. Twigs. Rhubarb.

Finish: Raspberry. Quite sweet. Fresh. Crumble like. Lemon undertone.

Conclusion: I liked blitz apricot, I absolutely adore this. It still has this huge stewed fruits feel, and a thick aroma. It is still tart, here with some cider like qualities, but the difference comes with the sparkle that you get from the sweet and fresh raspberry notes. It is that element that prevents if from becoming too heavy or cloying.

The fruit feels very natural, while it is admittedly backed by syrup like touches the front notes are very much raw raspberry. The combined effect is like you have drizzled ice cream syrup over some freshly picked fruit. It never loses that natural touch, very fruity and through the tartness, very refreshing. It is also restrained, nowhere here do you get the teeth tingling effects of the heavier sour beers like the cantillon lambic, but despite that it has the same ability to reinvigorate.

What really helps it is the apple crumble and sugar dusting that makes it feel dessert like, but without bringing in excessive and fake sweetness. It manages a chunk of the holographic fruit flavour that a lot of sour beers have, the acidity making it seem like there is a plethora of fruit flavours dancing on your tongue.

Overall an excellent sour beer.

Background: Drunk at Brewdog Bristol while waiting for a family meet up. Because of that I will admit the notes were slightly more rushed than usual. I drank blitz apricot a while back and so when I heard there was a raspberry version I was looking forwards to it, James and Martin from Brewdog seem quite obsessed with trying to make raspberry beers. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers.

How to Disappear Completely

Brewdog: How to Disappear Completely (2013) (Scotland: Imperial Mild: 2.8% ABV)

Visual: Mahogany with a large chocolate dust coloured creamy head. Some suds are left as you drink the beer.

Nose: Kiwi. Toffee. Chocolate dust. Tiny touch of crushed charcoal. Bitter hops. Apricot. Digestives.

Body: Charred bitterness. Kiwi and passion fruit. Prickly. Peach. Malt chocolate. Green apples.

Finish: Bitter hops. Dry. Malt chocolate. Kiwi. Pineapple. Toffee.

Conclusion: Yay. Another entry in the lower abv beer set, though this one is a bit heavier than most, weighing in as it does at a whopping 2.8% abv. I know. Dangerous. However it does use that bit of extra weight to good effect.

The body has a slight chocolate taste to it with a good level of bitterness added. Not IPA level, nor early Nanny State level, but still prickling and vibrant. The hop flavour is interesting though, calling to the black IPA in style if not intensity. The heavier fruit flavours like kiwi and green apples comes through in that BIPA style giving it just a slight tart edge.

I’ve had this on keg and the texture feels slightly thin there, not quite delivering the flavour. Here on the other hand it has more grip which comes with a charring like touch but also much more robust flavour.

The flavour, as mentioned, is like a mini black IPA but not as intense. Bitter but more soothing than punching. Though that could say more about my ongoing immunity to hop bitterness rather than any characteristic of the beer. Very easy to drink despite the bitterness and robust flavour. It doesn’t bring that instant wow like 0.3% Drink In The Sun but holds up very well over time. A great entry into a difficult weight category and very sessionable.

Background: Ok, imperial mild is a very silly term, and basically a bit of a marketing fluff from Brewdog. Those of you who with to be a bit more serious pretend I just listed this as mild. Anyway, while I have been a Brewdog fan for a long time, coming across Punk IPA in their first year of Brewing, it took a bit of time to find their website, and the existence of their small run beer, so I just missed the release of the first edition of this. I loved the idea of a low abv high flavour beer which has been part of my search around “Drink In The Sun” and the like. So, when in 2013 they released a new version of this I grabbed it. As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. This was drunk while listening to a bit of Alanis Morissette. I was a huge fan of “Jagged Little Pill” in my youth, but never rated the second album. Listening to it now I think I really underestimated it, it’s got a lot more weight than I gave it at the time.

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