Tag Archive: 0-3% ABV


Rok Soba: 777 Lucky AF Tripel (England: low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear caramel brown. No evident carbonation. Thin grey white head.

Nose: Brown sugar. Squeezed orange. Golden syrup.

Body: Thinned down golden syrup. White sugar. Iced tea. Bubblegum. Lightly chalky. Brown sugar.

Finish: Iced tea. Brown sugar. Orange juice. Chalk touch. Banana chewy sweets.

Conclusion: I see what this is trying to do. That is always the best opening for a set of notes isn’t it? Really makes you think that the following paragraphs are going to be praising what a top notch beer it is, no?

A lot of tripels tend to have a feeling of high residual sugar, which is present here. I presume from adding sugar or similar directly to the beer to make up from lack of malt? Maybe? The can lists sucralose which I presume is it – I dunno, not a brewer myself but this level of raw sweetness is very unusual in a low alcohol beer.

Any which way this is very sweet, with lots of brown and white sugar notes. On the good side the beer even manages to call to the fruity esters that turn up in a lot of Belgian beers. It is a, slightly artificial admittedly, set of banana and orange notes, and some very artificial bubblegum notes behind that. I don’t think the bubblegum was meant to be part of the theme, but it isn’t actually bad.

The issue comes with this beer, that, even more so that for a lot of low abv beers, this is very iced tea tasting, and even looks kind of iced tea like. So, what you end with when you mix that and the good points is something that tastes like an over sweetened iced tea rather than a tripel beer.

So, while it does have calls to a tripel it really fails to sum up what makes that beer enjoyable, and fails to present a decent alternative with what it does do.

It isn’t actively horrible, if I may damn it with that faint praise, but basically it tastes like very sweet iced tea. Which, if you want that, is fine but I kind of wanted a tripel and this isn’t that, despite those fruity notes which I will praise.

Ah well, a bold experiment at least.

Background: Originally I thought this was just called “Lucky” but everyone online seems to list the 777 from the art as part of the name. Which seems just like confusing label design to me, but what do I know? Rok Soba seems to be a whole thing with festivals, clothes and such, drinks seem to be a side project and from the can it looks like this was contract brewed in Belgium. Anyway, another one grabbed as part of a low alcohol batch from light drinks as the idea of a low abv attempt at a tripel amused me. Went back to the great Svalbard: When I Die Will I Get Better? As music. Top notch album.

Sheep In Wolf’s Clothing: Lager Day Saints (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Very pale, slightly yellowed body. Moderate amounts of small bubbled carbonation. Massive white mounded head.

Nose: Flour. Soft vanilla yogurt. Cake sponge. Slight chalk. Vanilla toffee. Dry marshmallow. Slightly dry overall. Slight gherkin note as warms.

Finish: Light sweet pineapple. Flour. Lightly milky. Slight fruit syrup. Vanilla toffee. Light chalk. Popcorn feel. Slight cake sponge.

Conclusion: This is very fluffy, slight dry and slightly tart yet sweet. I will admit that was not what I was expecting from a lager, not even a low abv one, so give me a few moments to realign my assumptions and come back with fresh eyes.

Ok, here goes.

Ok, well this isn’t really refreshing despite the light tartness and dry main body, which is odd. There is a flour touch along with a fluffy feel that makes it slightly mouth clinging to drink so works against any more refreshing notes.

The pineapple combined with the flour and light cake sponge notes actually make me think a bit of pineapple pizza when I drink this. Sans the tomato part natch. I didn’t say it was a perfect match. It is however, not what I was looking for in a beer. It isn’t that this is horrible, more that I drink this and think “Why does this exist?” It doesn’t hit any need I have for beer, or drink in general. Considering how many beer styles, and in fact drink styles that are out there which I enjoy it really should have managed to hit one just by accident, so missing every single one is quite the feat.

As it warms the tartness gains a gherkin touch which is odd and really doesn’t fit. I keep feeling that it isn’t so much that this is badly brewed per se , more that it is assembled from a random bunch of flavours that don’t mesh together. I think they made what they intended to make, I’m just not sure why.

Not for me, not actively bad, just I cannot see any reason to go to it at all.

Background: Didn’t know much about this one going in, had just seen a new brewery to me doing a low alcohol beer when I grabbed a batch from light drinks so decided to give it a go. The can says they are aiming for the Munich Helles lager style using a “unique yeast” and Hallertauer mittelfrueh hops. I really hope I spelled that right. I’d recently picked up Unleash The Archer’s album “Apex” and put it on as backing music, it is a wonderfully over the top concept album telling a sci-fi tale, so totally up my alley. Not much else to say here this time.

Untitled Art: Non Alcoholic: Chocolate Milk Stout (USA: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Thin off white to grey head.

Nose: Crushed bourbon biscuits in chocolate milkshake. Cocoa dust. Milky coffee.

Body: Milky chocolate. Chalk touch. Slight cold tea hints. Creamy mouthfeel.

Finish: Crushed bourbon biscuits. Milky chocolate to chocolate milkshake. Chalk touch. Slight iced tea. Coffee beans. Lactose.

Conclusion: This is probably the best alcohol free/ low alcohol stout I have had. Mainly for one big reason. It utterly nails the mouthfeel, which seems to be a stumbling block for so many low alcohol beers. It is slightly creamy, nicely slick on the tongue, and with just the lightest chalkiness so it isn’t pure creaminess and has some contrast, but not so much it feels off. It is thick enough, not super thick, but definitely replicates the grip of your average milk stout.

Impressive.

Flavour-wise it leans very heavily on the chocolate for the character, going from sweet but dusty cocoa dust, to a smoother chocolate milkshake sweetness, to a heavier crushed bourbon biscuit style. So, as you may have guess, not the hugest range – but a pleasant one. There is some milky coffee backing, which is another nice traditional stout note, and a mild coffee bitterness with that, but the milky chocolate is the main game.

There are some low alcohol hints but very well hidden indeed – the aforementioned chalkiness is one hint normally but here is made very much part of the stout character so I don’t even know if that counts. There are some iced tea notes, but they are only just noticeable if you specifically look for them as they are way below the chocolate notes that cover it.

If I had tried this blind I am fairly sure I could have mistaken it for a standard abv milk stout, and a good one at that. Not super complex, but super impressive for what it pulls off.

I recommend it highly for filling your alcohol free stout needs.

Background: I grabbed a can of this in my last Light Drinks batch, it was quite expensive for an alcohol free drink so I only grabbed one, and didn’t do notes when I broke it open. Which I instantly regretted as I loved it. So when I put in another order I grabbed another can specifically to do notes on. This is that can. It is made with cocoa nibs which explains a lot. Went with the light and poppy Japanese Breakfast: Jubilee for backing music. I heard them mentioned a few times so checked them out and they are some nice, more chilled music than I normally get.

St James’s Gate: Guinness: Draught 0.0 (Ireland: Low Alcohol: 0% ABV)

Visual: Opaque black and still. A creamy inch of a head.

Nose: Roasted. Nutty. Bitter cocoa. Milky coffee. Thick. Milky to milk bottle sweets.

Body: Creamy. Milk bottle sweets. Milky chocolate. Caramelised brown sugar. Very milky coffee. Slight savoury bread dough.

Finish: Milky. Light bitterness. Mild gingerbread. Slight charring. White sugar and brown sugar. Milky chocolate and cocoa. Toffee.

Conclusion: Ok, it has been a while since I last had draught Guinness, or to be honest any Guinness, so take this with a pinch of salt but … this isn’t a million miles away from tasting like draught Guinness.

It is fairly thick, in fact thick enough to make me think that this was initially brewed at normal strength and then the alcohol artificially removed as beers naturally brewed at low abv tend to be a lot thinner. I could, of course, be wrong. It is very creamy, and I would say sweeter than I remember Guinness being though. Not quite the savoury liquid bread that I remember Guinness being. Of course, these are old memories, so again, take with a pinch of salt.

There is some milky coffee and chocolate in there, not unusual for a stout but again slightly sweeter than I would expect with a kind of white and brown sugar backing, as if dissolved into the beer. While not as blatant it reminds me of when I try standard American bread which is far sweeter than the stuff I am used to here. This is similarly sweeter but I can still recognisable for what it is.

So, to summarise. Creamy as heck and sweeter than you would expect – the milk chocolate and coffee show the stout style, and there is a recognisable, liquid bread (Even slightly savoury dough at the back) style recognisable Guinness character.

It isn’t bad actually. Guinness is far from my favourite stout in general but this does the job well, and works a lot better than I ever expected it to. It also works very nicely if you half and half it with Nanny State. Which I expect is an experiment that will lead to many death threats and hate mail from purists.

So, a nice low alcohol surprise for me today

Background: So, I saw a pack of 4 cans of alcohol free Guinness at Sainsbury’s and I couldn’t help but wonder. How? This notoriously thick and stodgy Irish stout, how were they going to make an alcohol free version of it? So I grabbed a pack to try. I am easy to sell to. As mentioned in the notes I had before tried making a half and half with Nanny State with this to see what happened. It was nice. So by the time I got to this I was on my final can, so I decided to pull my thumb out and actually do notes. I didn’t bother doing the proper Guinness full slow pour, leave, come back and finish the pour for this. I just couldn’t be arsed. I did take my time over the pour in general though, just couldn’t be bothered with the full ceremony. Put Public Image Ltd: Compact Disk on as backing music. I was tempted to do something from Ireland to keep some thematic link going on, but eventually plumped for PIL as I was just in the mood for it. Not much else to say, I’m guessing we all know what Guinness is, right?

Sainsbury’s Pilsner Zero Alcohol (France: Low Alcohol: 0.0% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow gold. Medium amounts of small bubbled carbonation. A large mounded white head.

Nose: Soft lemon cakes. Slight sulphur. Jiff lemon on pancakes. Slight lime. Dry rice. Muggy hop character. Brown bread. Wort mash.

Body: Clean. Light chemically feel. Soft lime. Vanilla. Light toffee. Some hop feel.

Finish: Soft lime. Light chalk. Low to medium bitterness and light hop prickle. Slight charring. Slightly bready.

Conclusion: This is a reasonable low alcohol lager, with a few flaws, a few quirks that help offset the flaws and one big advantage.

Let’s look at the nice quirks first. Unusually for a pilsner it has a soft citrus style, with lemon and lime notes that make up a good chunk of the character. It is subtly done in execution but it gives it a fresh zestiness that I’ve rarely seen in this kind of beer.

The flaws are mostly those common to a low alcohol lager. There is a slight chemically touch to it (Yes, I know how crap that description is, but all of you know exactly what I mean), a generally artificial note and a light touch of chalkiness that doesn’t suit the easy drinking character. It’s hardly the worst I have seen of this kind of thing, and it manages to dodge the iced tea and dry teabag tannins like notes nigh completely so it is just a touch rough and artificial edged.

The rest of the beer around those two poles is a moderately bitter and slightly evident hop character lager. Reasonable, not fancy but does the job.

So with that we have covered the good, the bad and the generic. An ok beer, some flaws but not horrible and that citrus zest helps perk it up through its troubles.

So, what is its big advantage? Basically that it is easy to get and inexpensive. While not the best this is reasonable, and actually better than a bunch of the “craft” low abv lagers I’ve tried which leaned on hops too much and ended up very rough. As such, since it is very easy to get it is an easy one to slip alongside a meal or such instead of an alcoholic beer. Not one to examine, or dig into, but does the job well enough for what it is.

Background: So, this says it is bottled in France. Dunno what brewery, heck I don’t even know if it is brewed in France or just bottled there. So, with that wealth of information I can say that this is an alcohol free beer from Sainsbury‘s that I decided to grab and do notes on. It is fairly cheap and I always need some low to no alcohol stuff to enjoy. Or at least try. So that is that. Went with X-Ray Specs: Germ Free Generation as backing music.

Big Drop: Waterslide IPA (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale clear gold. Moderate sized off white head that leaves suds. Reasonable amount of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Gooseberry. Cake sponge. Sponge hop character. Gentle bitterness. Sweet lime touch. Apricot touch.

Body: Prickly. Moderate bitterness. Kiwi. High hop character. Light greenery. Grapefruit. Very soft toffee. Fresh sour dough.

Finish: Good bitterness. Prickly hop character. Kiwi. Slight charring. Mild gooseberries. Gunpowder tea. Grapefruit.

Conclusion: This is a nicely bracing, quite clean bodied yet bitter IPA that is matched by some subtly used tart fruit notes. There is quite the wake up call from this low alcohol beer!

It is very prickly. The bitterness has a nice presence but that prickly hope character is what really defines it. Little needles of joy prickling into your tongue. They are closely linked with the bitterness, but separate enough that I considered it worth emphasising.

Now if that was all that was there it could get wearing or even overly harsh, especially in a low abv beer where the malt isn’t really there to balance it. So, with that in mind I am very glad for the gentle gooseberry and grapefruit fresh release. It is subtly done but brings a lovely tingling freshness, not quite mouth cleaning feel but has that air of tartness which, when combined to the bitterness, is why I call it a wake up call of a beer as it kicks that out at you.

There is a gentle touch of apricot as a high note in the aroma but unfortunately it never really comes out in the main body. Instead we get a balancing kiwi note that gives a solid middle around which the lighter flavours and hop prickle can dance – a core to the beer that allows everything else to work.

This is a lovely IPA that balances bitterness, freshness, gentle edges and prickly kick. Definitely a hit with me. Heck, despite being a low abv beer as it is, it comes closer to my taste in IPAs that a lot of the modern full alcohol IPAs!

Background: Another Big Drop seasonal release – this one for the Summer Season. The seasonal releases tend to be where I find the ones I really enjoy in their range, where they put out that tad higher quality – so I hope the same happens here. Coming in at 60 IBU they describe it as a “Southern Hemisphere & New World hop powerhouse”. This was grabbed from Beercraft as I once again raided their low alcohol selection. Went back to Laura Jane Grace’s recent release At War With The Silverfish for background music, it is a fairly short album but fits a gentle drinking session well.

Insel: Swimmer’s Saison (Germany: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear caramel brown touched body. Lots of small bubbled carbonation in the body and a thin off white head.

Nose: Fruity esters. Slight sulphur. Sugared lemons. Orange skin. Brown bread. Sage.

Body: Iced tea. Wet charring. Touch of brown sugar. Orange skin. Touch of chalk. Lime touch. Hard fruit sweets. Sugared water. Wet teabags.

Finish: Orange skin. Brown sugar. Dirty water. Wet teabags. Herbal. Sage.

Conclusion: Saisons have been fairly varied in style in my experience. Some have been these lovely fresh and hoppy bitter things, Some have been earthy, spicy and rustic, some have been oddly textured in an almost steam beer way, some have been slightly sour. Absolutely none have been anything like this low abv take.

On the nose it is fairly interesting – it is fairly fruity in a citrus way, with a touch of sage savoury spice, which is a reasonable call to the more herbal saisons. Behind that is a fairly neutral bready backing, but it still has enough interesting there that I had hope.

The body is, by comparison, a bit watery. It feels like sugared water meets brown sugar and then has had a teabag dunked a few times into the the resulting mix, but not enough to add any real layered flavour.

The fruity, interesting notes are still there, but the base behind it feels like empty wet air. While the breadiness of the aroma wasn’t exciting it was solid and gave a strong base from the other notes to work from, while here the more interesting notes get lost in the beer’s watery depths.

This coasts through the beer into the finish, where a pleasant orange character sits over a dirty sugar water emptiness once more. It isn’t that the beer is vile, but fairly empty for the most part, so the better notes end up falling flat and the beer as a whole feels muddied and unfocussed.

It is an unusual low abv beer, but still shows the teabag and iced tea notes clearly that are the bane of the low alcohol style and doesn’t push anything heavy enough to offset them.

While I appreciate a different style choice for a low abv beer, this doesn’t do much with it at all.


Background: This was the second Insel beer I bought from light drinks, and I think, the last beer I have from that batch to do notes on. This is well reputed, but after being disappointed with their similarly well received wet hopped pilsner I was more nervous coming to this one. Was surprised to see a low alcohol Saison, not a common pick for low abv beer, but I’m always happy to see experimentation. I will admit, while it adds nothing to the beer, the paper wrapped bottles do make this look fairly fancy. Went back to Ritualz – CDR for music while drinking. Been a while since I put that on and it is lovely evocative dark electronic tunes so thought it was time to give another spin as fine background music for drinking.

Brussels Beer Project: Pico Nova – Zero West Coast IPA (Belgium: Low Alcohol: 0.3% ABV)

Visual: Clear browned gold. An inch of off white mounded head. Very little carbonation visible.

Nose: Ovaltine. Crushed bourbon biscuits. Malt chocolate. Musty hop character and bitterness. Choc orange. Brown bread and sour dough.

Body: Ovaltine. Greenery. Moderate hop bitterness. Slight iced tea. Slight toffee. Fresh calls to grapefruit.

Finish: Iced tea. Lemon pancakes. Moderate hop bitterness. Slight choc orange. Malt drinks. Dry coffee remains. Slight grapefruit hints in the air. Vanilla. Lightly peppery.

Conclusion: Generally when I think of a west coast IPA I think dry, an out of the way malt character, high hop bitterness and sometime a bit of hop fruitiness and/or tartness to go along with it.

This actually feels quite malt led, which is both odd for a west coast, and impressive for a low alcohol beer that can’t use too much of the malt to get the flavour. There is a lot of malt drinks, malt chocolate and even some dry toffee notes in there. Despite being traditionally sweet notes, they don’t express here in a very sweet way, so it isn’t like it tastes like a bigger, sweeter East Coast IPA – it is just a tad sweeter, darker and more present malt than you would expect from its description.

The hops are moderately bitter, prickly, with a bit of greenery amongst the notes. Not super heavy, but noticeable over the malt character so doing the job that hops should do. The hop flavours that come from that are subtly done. There is a gentle backing freshness that calls to grapefruit, and a slight sweetness to the chocolate malt that calls to choc orange. Nothing too out there, just a slight freshness and rounding sweetness that adds to that base.

Behind all this is a pretty savoury, bready basic character that, again, is weightier than expected. There are some slight low abv tells to this, mainly in a hint of that iced teas style, but generally its tendency is towards being more a neutral feeling middle than anything obviously low alcohol.

It is kind of west coast, but feels half east and half west coast overall – nothing too showy, though the slightly tart notes pick up as the beer goes on which is welcome. A reasonable beer that doesn’t quite fit a style or a theme, and can end up slightly indistinct in character as a result despite having some quite big feeling flavours in there.

Not bad, does the bitterness well, but needs a bit of sparkle to help it really work.

Background: Now most people who have been around this blog a while will know I love a good West Coast IPA. So, when I saw, as part of my recent batch of low alcohol beers from light drinks, that they were calling one a 0.3% abv west coast IPA it had my attention. Even more intriguing it is a Belgian brewery doing it, which is not what I would have expected. Went back to some classic 90s tunes with Garbage’s first self titled album for music. I still adore that album.

Big Drop: Field Hopper Golden Ale (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow gold. Thin white head.

Nose: Fluffy hop character. Orange skin. Vanilla. White bread.

Body: Slightly chalky. Light crusty white bread. Some bitterness, which grows in scale quickly. Slightly musty. Light orange zest. Vanilla. Quite dry.

Finish: Some bitterness and hop prickle. Hop bitterness rises quickly. Lemon and orange notes. Dry cake sponge.

Conclusion: I’m on the fence about this one, it flits between a decent golden ale, and a fairly rubbish beer, and I’ve yet to settle on which side of it dominates enough for me to make a call. So, let’s examine it and see where this takes us.

Let’s start with the best side of it. This has a good hop character, bitter and very much showing itself in a golden ale style which is recognisably different from other IPA or Bitter low abv beers. It has the refreshing prickling character, slightly dry but with good bitterness that can kick out at you.

Behind that hop kick is a reasonably evident citrus orange and lemon set of notes that again call to the quintessential golden ale style.

It is always pretty dry, a tad more than I would expect from a golden ale, which can already be a quite dry style in some expressions, but not generally terribly so. The extra dryness is probably a tell of the low abv and lower malt, but apart from that there aren’t many low alcohol give away elements.

That dryness , while not bad in itself, can be the gateway to the weaker side of this beer though. Sometimes the beer can feel like it isn’t putting enough weight against the bitterness, and comes across harsh and quiet chalky which hurts the beer and hides most of the lighter citrus elements of the beer. The beer can come across quite empty like this, with just the rough edges pushing through the quiet.

This rough style happens more early on – I didn’t overly chill the beer so I don’t think it was from that. Maybe I just acclimatised to the bitterness, or maybe it just benefits from some time to air, but it is definitely more friendly in the later half of the beer.

With that I’m going to lean towards this being generally good, but with weak moments early on. When it is off it is a pain, but it spends more time as a reasonable if not exceptional golden ale. So, not bad, but could probably do with a few tweaks in the recipe and brewing to get it right.

Background: Big Drop were one of the first low abv brewers that made me think that there was a genuine future for good low abv beers. Over the years they have had hits and misses, but generally always happy to check them out. So when I saw this one I had not tried when I put in my light drinks order, I threw in a bottle to see how it was. Went back to Bikini Kill – The First Two Records collection for backing music as I’ve been on a bit of a punk kick recently again.

Veltins: Pilsner Alkohol Free (German: Low Alcohol: 0.0% ABV)

Visual: Clear pale yellow. Large mounded white head. Very small amounts of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Clean. Slight fresh sour dough. Low amounts of bready hop character and bitterness. Soft vanilla yogurt.

Body: Vanilla toffee to yogurt. Clean. Hop oils. Light chalk touch. Low hop character and bitterness with gentle hop prickle. Slight frothy to sherberty feel with a lemon touch of flavour. Touch of greenery.

Finish: Toffee. Crushed mint leaves to peppermint. Light chalk. Jiff lemon. Vanilla.

Conclusion: This is very gentle, very smooth, with little in the way of rough edges. It’s got a moderate toffee and vanilla led flavour, and enough of that that thankfully the gentle character doesn’t make it an empty beer.

There isn’t much bitterness to this for a German pils – there is generally a very low amount of hop feel and such, though the hops do impart a gentle oiliness that definitely helps the beer.

The only rough edge to this, and kind of but not exactly a low alcohol tell, is the slight chalkiness. However while it is something that shows up in low alcohol beers it is not that harsh, nor exactly unusual in standard abv lagers so I can’t complain too much.

There isn’t a lot to examine here – it is gently sweet vanilla toffee to a slightly more neutral vanilla yogurt character. There is some restrained hop expression, and with that added you now have 90% of the experience of drinking this beer covered. That said, as a gentle drinking, sweeter end of the lager scale beer, this does do the job.

Considering the utter lack of any alcohol in this, the higher end malt styled sweetness is actually quite impressive, even if the beer is gentle overall. Doubly so when you take into account that this can’t lean on the hops to cover up the holes as many of the more showy low alcohol beers do.

So, not a special beer, but a well done low abv take on a gentle drinking sweet lager, and I can respect that.

Background: Yet another one from the Light Drinks batch I ordered of low to no alcohol beer. This one however is familiar to me. This is one of my Dads favourite low alcohol beers, so I decided it was time for me to give it a go and get a set of notes out of it. I was surprised to see I have never actually done notes on the standard Veltins on this blog. Something I overlooked. I must get on that one day. Not much else to add – went back to Garbage: No Gods, No Masters for background music. No I have still not picked up any Rammstein to act as backing music for German beers. I definitely should change that.

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