Tag Archive: 0-3% ABV

Big Drop: Paradiso Citra IPA (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% BAV)

Visual: Clear pale yellow body. Thin white head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Fresh hoppy character. Vanilla. Apples. Clean. Light flour. Cake sponge.

Body: Fluffy hop feel. Medium bitterness. Slightly light mid body.

Finish: High bitterness. Good hops. Light charred feel. Vanilla. Cake sponge. Apples. Light peppermint menthol touch,

Conclusion: I have to admit that, while I was confident, before trying this I wasn’t 100% sure that it wasn’t just a rebranded version of their Citra hopped pale ale. They have been renaming and rebranding their line as they move into cans, and let’s face it, it isn’t like it has the higher abv of anything that can immediately shout IPA.

A quick sip tells me I was wrong, this is definitely an IPA. I found it pretty impressive that they made the difference between this and their pale so evident and distinct at 0.5% ABV. This is especially true when you take into account the amount of session IPAs at higher ABV that end up feeling rough hopped due to the lack of malt backing.

There is a distinct hop feel, and a solid but not harsh bitterness against a gentle vanilla backing. The low abv doesn’t seem to give enough grip for the citra hops to really fully show through but there are still some distinct apple notes top and tail. It isn’t perfect – it is a tad light and slightly towards the watery side compared to a full IPA – again it seems the abv limits how far you can push things, but it is a very easy drinking IPA if not an exceptional one. Still impressive what they manage for what they were working with.

I slightly prefer Big Drop’s Pale Ale, as that is a great pale as well as a great low abv beer. This by comparison is a decent IPA for low abv, and a great low abv beer, but could not stand up against full abv IPAs. Still, considering that one of the selling points is the high abv and what they can do with it, it is a bigger challenge, so not matching the Pale Ale is not terrible criticism.

Another great low abv beer fro the masters of that niche, Big Drop, even if it is not their best.

Background: I’ve had a lot of Big Drop’s beers – they only do low abv 0.5% beers, and as a beer nut having something that low as a go to is a life saver. Possibly literally. Their Pale Ale is one of my favourite low abv beers and a bloody good beer in its own right. I tried their citra variant of their pale ale, but I am was fairly sure this is a new beer and not just that. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to The Royal They: Foreign Being. Yes I grabbed another album off them after my last set of notes.

Brass Castle: Kingdom Of The Sparkle Pony (England: Table Beer: 2.8% ABV)

Visual: Pale, just slightly hazy yellow coloured body. Lots of small bubbled carbonation. Massive white mounded head that leaves some suds.

Nose: Bubblegum. Cane sugar. Fresh brown bread. Crushed Blackpool rock. Fresh nan bread. Sugared orange sweets.

Body: Bubblegum. Yeasty feel. Candyfloss. Unleavened bread. Lime sweets. Sugared orange sweets.

Finish: Bubblegum. Soft banana sweets. Peppery. Brown bread. Candyfloss.

Conclusion: Darn it – I thought I had found my perfect beer when I heard the description for this. A moderate to low abv, so very sessionable. Candyfloss flavours and “Sparkle Pony” in the name. I was excited. Turns out it is ok, nothing special, and as you might expect it is a bit gimmicky. Darn it.

So, aye, it is ok. At its base it hs that drinkable, slightly bready and yeasty table beer style. Solid enough. It gets fairly lost under what comes next, but is still a solid table beer base.

Soooo, the candyfloss. Now I knew going I that the beer would be at least slightly gimmicky. It is a candyfloss beer for fecks sake, the question was how well was it going to pull off the gimmick? And this …. eh. It’s pretty bubble gummy – reminds me of Sorachi Ace hops in that way but without the additional lemongrass notes. Sweet in flavour, not syrupy, but a kind of dry sweetness that really lingers. It has varied sugared fruit notes that come out over time, but feels very, very artificial.

Which, ya know, candyfloss. What did I expect? I guess I was hoping it would be used with a more subtle touch. This is a very silly beer, kind of fun as any silly bit of fluff can be, but not really a good beer in that. It really emphasises the long lasting sweet notes, where a more present table beer character would have let the sweet notes sparkle more in comparison rather than wear out their welcome as they do here.

It is still a laugh. It does what it says on the tin, but is pretty flawed as a table beer as it doesn’t have any sessionable character, and suffers as anything else due to lack of depth. Ah well. A laugh, but a shallow one.

Background: Ok – I did not just grab this because it is called “Kingdom Of The Sparkle Pony”. Though that did help. Nor just because of that and the fact this is made with candyfloss. Which is ridiculous but also sounded kind of fun. It was also because of the can art, which was super cool. I am shallow. Yes we established that a long time ago. Anyway, this is a table beer made with candyfloss. Because of course. Didn’t want anything too heavy musically to go with this one, so listed to the Celeste: Farewell soundtrack. So much good music in that game and a perfect match for the beer. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Lervig: No Worries (Norway: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Slightly cloudy, light yellow. Large loose mounded white head.

Nose: Mango. Lightly wheaty. Low bitterness. Crisp hop character. Soft lemon. Vanilla. Mild pomegranate. Cake sponge.

Body: Energy drinks. Good hop character. Slight bitterness. Prickly. Soft lemon. Fluffy feel. Cake sponge. Mango.

Finish: Glucose energy drinks. Gritty bitterness. Soft, fresh lemon. Soft mango. Vanilla. Cake sponge. Heavier bitterness over time.

Conclusion: OK, lots of good point to this. So I am going to start with the main bad point. I’m just kind of contrary like that.

The bad point is one common to a lot of low alcohol beers – and it is actually not tannin like notes this time. For once. Instead this leans more towards a soft glucose energy drink style. Not the worst element but a very clear tell that the beer has less weight to it than a higher abv would.

Against that is a moderate, prickly hop character that pushes only moderate bitterness bit in a kind of gravely way that makes it feel heavier than it otherwise would. The bitterness slowly raises in the finish to give a solid kick to the end. It feels quite dry in the finish, giving an attenuated APA kind of feel to the hops.

The fruitiness of most IPAs these days is there as well, though not as heavy. There is slight dry mango and very soft lemon which make up the main thrust of it. A bit of a different take to a lot of the IPAs these days, let alone low alcohol IPAs, decent if not world shattering in taste.

Generally another decent low alcohol beer. We are spoiled for them at the mo. This one could do with a few tweaks, but generally does the job in a satisfying fashion.

Background: Low alcohol beer! Yep, that is a common thing on this blog now. Live with it. Another one grabbed from Beercraft who always seem to have a decent low abv selection. Lervig have done me solid so far, so hope they can bring their A game to a low abv beer. Though admittedly most of the stuff from them I have tried was on the higher end of the abv scale. Went with Nine Inch Nails: Further Down The Spiral for drinking music. Their version of Hurt was the original and is still the best.

Big Drop: Fyne Ales: Jam Session (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Very pale, lightly yellowed body. Thin white dash of a head. A small amount of carbonation.

Nose: Wholemeal bread. Fresh raspberry. Watery malt vinegar. Lightly chalky. Spritzy.

Body: Softly tart. Slightly fizzy feel. Chalk feel. Light tart raspberry. Watery. Slight watery malt vinegar. Yellow raspberry. Greenery.

Finish: Chalky. Cake sponge. Watery. Light raspberry. Lactose. Salty. Green fresh leaves.

Conclusion: This is, well, unusual. I would say that it doesn’t feel like it matches a gose, but since the explosion in new takes on the style over the past few years I really couldn’t say if it does or does not fall under one of them. It is just, a bit odd.

What it does is wear its many and varied ingredients on its sleeve. The watered malt vinegar sourness, the salt touch, acidic, lactose kind of thing. All stuff that gives a distinct mouthfeel despite a general wateriness, and does give a general base character that has a lot of the unusual notes you would associate with the more lactic goses. However as indicated the reason that it doesn’t feel much like a gose to me is that the main body is very watery and thin. All the ingredients have to work very hard against that to get across what gose feel it has.

The raspberry is surprising lightly used over that base – it gives reasonable tartness and some flavour, but not as dominant as you might expect. The raspberry is quite naturally done, but understated – it feels like a soft drink made with a few raspberries to give a bit of pep, but not much else.

It is ok, but feels very much like a non soda pop styled soft drink – one of those glass bottled small company soft drinks kind of things – rather than a beer. It even has that odd herbal note you get in a bunch of those drinks as they are made with a bunch of “Natural ingredients”. Similarly there is a chalk note that make it just slightly rough at the edges.

Its an ok drink, but not really refreshing, not really a good gose, not really impressive as a beer. It is just gently pleasing but not much else.

Ok, not really worth grabbing by itself, but ok as part of the four pack.

Background: Fourth and final of the low abv collaboration beer made by Big Drop to celebrate their 3rd anniversary. This one, a collaboration with Fyne Ales, is probably the most unusual – An attempt to reproduce the once nearly lost Germany gose style – but at 0.5% ABV. To do so they have a host of special ingredients in the brew – most notably raspberry flavouring, malt vinegar, sea salt, malic, tartaric, lactic and citric acid. I had to look up what some of those acids were. As before the four pack box was grabbed from Independent Spirit. Since we had one amazing and one good beer out of the batch so far (and admittedly one crap one) I was looking forwards to this. Music wise it was yet again time for Tool: Fear Inoculum. Such an amazing album.

Big Drop: Salt: L’il IPL (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear yellow to grain coloured body. Good sized off white bubbled head. Small bubbled carbonation in the body.

Nose: Wheaty hop character. Peppery. Bitter. Crushed pepper seeds. Crisp. Lime. Lemon sherbet.

Body: Clean vanilla. Lemon sherbet. Crisp mouthfeel into fluffy later on. Moderate bitterness and hop character. Soft lime. Palma violets.

Finish: Peppery. Lemon sherbet. Good hop prickle. Slight hop oils. Quickly growing bitterness. Soft lime. Fluffy vanilla popcorn. Kiwi. Late on tannins and teabag notes come out.

Conclusion: Ok, this may actually have topped Big Drop’s Pale Ale as the go to for best low alcohol beer. It’s got a lovely clean lager feel, with none of the odd, chemical feeling notes that some low alcohol beers have.

The crisp, easy drinking style comes through with some soft palma violet notes that call to the hop use of the European lagers, and similarly a touch of hop oils with it. It makes for a fine base over which the heavier IPL hop weight is laid.

While this has a simple set of flavours from those heavier hops – a mix of lemon sherbet and lime notes are the most obvious fruity character – this light touch provides room for a solid hop feel and bitterness that prickles the tongue. It is lightly peppery in a way that adds to the urge to take another sip to deal with that hoppiness. Very drinkable.

In most lagers this hoppy encouragement to sip again would be as dangerous as it is enjoyable – but since this is 0.5% abv this is perfect to have as many as you want!

Now, late on there is a slight tannins and teabags like note that gives away the low abv, but generally this is a nigh perfect low alcohol IPL for session drinking.

This needs releasing as a stand alone beer right now.

Background: Third of the four low abv collaboration beers Big Drop did to celebrate their third anniversary. This India Pale Lager is a collaboration with Salt, who are epic at hop forward beers. Big Drop are epic at low abv beers so, yeah, I was excited for this one. The box of beers was grabbed at Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to Garbage – Bleed Like Me. Not their most famous album, but one I have a soft spot for.

Big Drop: Harbour: Going Swimmingly – Hibiscus Saison (England; Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale gold and clear body. Medium sized white head. Some carbonation.

Nose: Strong herbal character. Hibiscus. Slight stem ginger. Sage.

Body: Hibiscus. Slight ginger. Peppery. Slightly watery. Slight wood shavings. Slight fluffy popcorn. Vanilla.

Finish: Watery. Ginger. Hibiscus. Chinese stir fry. Wood shavings.

Conclusion: This is really spicy and herbal. Like REALLY herbal. The base beer has a fluffy feel, but is generally kind of watery and weak – not capturing the saison character too well.

It lacks anything to back the herbal notes, and because of that they utterly dominate, to the detriment of the beer. The hibiscus is super evident – it is gently peppery behind that – the main counter note is a kind of dry wood shaving notes that doesn’t exactly suit it.

It feels like drinking a jar of water that has been poured through a spice rack. I can’t enjoy it. The spice doesn’t work for me. It doesn’t feel beer like. It definitely doesn’t feel saison like. Even within the spice it doesn’t do anything that brings them together in a harmonious whole.

So, a real failure in my opinion. A rare one from Big Drop. I think this needs a complete rebuild from ground up if they intend to do any more saisons.

Background: The second of Big Drop’s third anniversary collaboration beers. This one, as the name may indicate is a saison made with hibiscus. Looking at the ingredient list it is also made with pink peppercorns, coriander seed, and juniper. So, a lot going into this one. Hops wise they went with my old friend, sorachi ace so I am hoping this will be an exciting beer. Anyway, as always Big Drop’s beers are 0.5% and so made for doing notes on an easy drinking day. Always good. I recently finished watching the utter soul breaking anime series that is Puella Magi Madoka Magica, so had a bunch of music from that as a background to my drinking. Because I obviously wanted a reminder of my soul being torn in two. People who have not watched the show may be googling it now, and on seeing the images, may think I am joking. I am not. That show is great and utterly gut wrenchingly draining to watch. Oh, also the beers were bought from Independent Spirit BTW.

Big Drop: Fourpure: Big River Black IPA (England; Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. A ruby touch to it if held to the light. Large mounded froth, beige coloured head.

Nose: Roasted nuts. Malt chocolate drinks. Bourbon biscuits. Bitter coffee. Slight lactose.

Body: Bitter. Charring. Greenery. Malt chocolate. Roasted nuts. Doughnut dough. Bitter hops. Slightly gritty. Slight tannins and teabags. Bitter coffee.

Finish: Bitter cocoa dust. Bitter hop character. Slightly dusty. Teabags. Kiwi. Slight pineapple. Cigarette ash.

Conclusion: Ok, they did it – a decent, low alcohol Black IPA. Note I said decent, not great, but right now that is still seriously impressive.

Initially this suffered very heavily from the thinner texture you get with the low abv, but somehow it manages to build up over time to a decent tongue clinging bitter beer. Definitely better after the first few sips – so give it some time so it can get going.

When it has built up it pushes a lot of cocoa, bitter coffee and decent hops, instead of the bitter charring cling that you get on the first few sips. A definite improvement. Those early moments are a big part of why I say this is only decent, but when you get past that there is a lot to enjoy – if still not perfect.

This leans more towards the bitter stout like take on the BIPA style rather than the fruitier IPA with a chocolate base. Now I will admit I prefer it the other way around, but this still has some fruit showing through – predominantly in the finish where you get a slight fresh set of notes.

There is still that tannin and teabag style that I see in a lot of low abv beers, but here a lot of the roasted character helps offset that nicely. So, a decent BIPA, a remarkably impressive one for the abv. Could so with some tweaking, but generally an impressive take.

Background: It is Big Drop’s 3rd anniversary! So they released a box set of four collaboration beers. As always the beers are 0.5% abv or lower. I swear Big Drop are doing a solid chunk in keeping me from dying from alcohol poisoning. Good job! This, a collaboration with Fourpure, is a black IPA. Don’t think I’ve seen an alcohol free(ish) BIPA before. Should be fun. Went with Against Me! Transgender Dysphoria Blues as music. One of those rare albums with not a bad track on it. The box was grabbed from Independent Spirit. They are a very common appearance here.

Brooklyn: Special Effects (USA: Low Alcohol. 0.4% ABV)

Visual: Clear, a darkened caramel brown colour. A caramel coloured inch of mounded head.

Nose: Spicy. Crushed pepper seeds. Thai 7 spice. Caramel. Lightly watery.

Body: Caramel. Watered down treacle. Liquorice. Mint leaves. Greenery. Peppery. Light orange skin.

Finish: Thai 7 spice. Moderate hop character. Light liquorice. Light earthy hops. Peppery. Black and white pepper.

Conclusion: Ok, this is spicier than I imagined it would be. Not super spicy, but it is definitely a solid part of the character. I did wonder if that was due to the hop usage, or if, due to the low abv, they had actually added spice to the beer to make up for that. Now, the ingredient list doesn’t mention any spice, so yeah, just the hops I guess – let me know if you know any better please.

At its base it feels kind of dark lager style, with watered down treacle and caramel notes. For an easy drinking beer, it has a reasonable mouthfeel considering the low abv, if not anything special. It wears a greenery, peppery and some Thai seven spice style into a light earthiness as its main strings to its bow, and it is them that do most of the legwork, if I may mix my metaphors.

It doesn’t feel like a traditional beer in most ways, but carries enough that this semi spice beer meets lager style feels like a decent stand in for one anyway. I feel it would be a good one to go with food where the spice and easy drinking could accentuate the heavier food flavours without needing to be the main event.

As a beer by itself it is ok, but not one to get super engaged with. It feels decent enough for what I will term a “Background beer”. It has enough beer character to fill the space while you are concentrating on something else, but not really one that keeps your attention if that is all that is before you.

So, what I am saying is it is ok and has a place in things.

Background: New low alcohol beer. Pretty much why I grabbed it. These things are vital in my old age. Honest. Anyway, yeah saw a low alcohol from Brooklyn, who tend to do well in their standard beers, so thought I would give it a go. Not much to add on top of that. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. For reasons that probably only amuse me, I went with Cradle Of Filth for music with this one. If you are wondering why look at the notes before this one. That is all.

Harvey’s: Sussex Best Low Alcohol (England: Low Alcohol Bitter: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Slight darkened gold. Thin white rim of bubbles.

Nose: Honey. Thick. Nutty – cashew nuts amongst others.

Body: Thin. Nutty. Slight chalk. Watery. Slight treacle and charring.

Finish: Syrup touch. Watery. Slightly nutty. Some bitterness. Charring.

Conclusion: Whelp, this was the wrong one to do notes on. You see, I also grabbed the low alcohol old ale, mainly out of perverse fascination of how you can do a low alcohol old ale. Anyway, that was ok. This is shit.

Before anyone jumps to the wrong conclusion, I’m not shitting on it because it is a low alcohol take on the much maligned best bitter style. I was actually interested in what they would do with that, I’m shitting on it because it is shit.

It actually opened up ok, which is what made everything else such a shock. The aroma is a mix of honey and nuts. No news yet on if cornflakes were ever present.

Yeah, that’s a shit joke, I’m working with what I have got ok. So the aroma was gentle, but pleasant.

The body is fucking water that someone has dropped a nut into. By which I mean an actually nut, I am not insinuating that they jerked off into it. Though they may have done that as well for all I know. Though that would add flavour, so I’m guessing not.

There is nothing in this recognisable as elements that make a bitter good, shoot there is nothing that makes a beer good. There are just ill defined wet nuts, some charred bitterness and chalk.

Utter shite.

That was “How to be more optimistic in these negative days” Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.

Background: More low alcohol beers. As mentioned in the notes I grabbed this and also a low alcohol old ale from the same brewery. Looks like rather than brewing a low alcohol beer, they brew the standard beer then filter out the alcohol – interesting – guess time will show if it produces a better or worse beer than brewing specifically a low alcohol beer. I guess technically it can feel like cheating compared to the challenge of doing a good low abv brew, but if a good beer comes out of it there is no way I will complain. Not much to add, this was grabbed at BeerCraft and drunk while listening to the best of Ramones for some simple punk fun.

Brewdog: Punk AF (Scotland: Low Alcohol IPA: 0.5 ABV)

Visual: Very pale and lightly yellowed body. Thin white head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Passion-fruit. Vanilla toffee. Kiwi. Flour. Lightly creamy. Honey and barley.

Body: Light chalk. Good bitterness. Slight sour cream twist. Bready. Soft grapefruit. Soft kiwi. Tart grapes.

Finish: Chalk touch. Good bitterness. Kiwi. Passion-fruit. Slight charring. Dry. Light vanilla.

Conclusion: The good thing about low alcohol beers is that it is easy to have a few of them over a couple of nights and compare how they came across. Slightly harder to do with 15% and up abv imperial stouts is what I am saying.

Anyway, this particular one, the beer I am drinking right now and am doing notes on, has so far had a less notable body that some of the earlier ones I have had. I think they are all from the same batch, so it won’t be brewing variation causing it, so I think it is probably another example of low abv beers being more vulnerable to a few degrees difference in chilling than most.

The aroma is spot on Punk IPA – a lovely mix of hoppy fruit, light sweetness and slightly musky air. The body is, well, it’s ok. It is slightly dry and chalky – kind of like an over attenuated session IPA or APA. Depending on how much you chill this it either comes across fairly empty, or a decent facsimile of punk hops and fruit, just toned way down. The finish returns to a better expressed set of notes – that slightly closed and thick hop bitterness and a mix up of well used fruit notes.

So, a good opening and close. An ok, but over attenuated middle that doesn’t have the weight of flavour it needs. On the up-side, the hop bitterness and character manage to be appropriately intense the whole way through – it just needs more intense notes backing it up.

Reasonable enough. Punk IPA in general style if not in the details. Far too dry and attenuated to pull it off overall though. Still, not bad, not great. Definitely not up there with the current highs of the low abv contest.

Background: Usual disclaimer, as an Equity For Punker from years ago, I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog, but I try. Long time readers may have noticed recently I have done notes on very few Brewdog beers – that is as I have become disillusioned with Brewdog as a business – they have said and done a lot of stuff that has narked me off, so I’ve grabbed significantly fewer of their beers. Still, when I saw this in Sainsbury‘s I decided to grab it and give it a try. Punk IPA was the beer that got me into Brewdog, and despite my disagreement with the company I still rate it as an IPA. So, this, a low abv take on Punk IPA did have me wondering, could they genuinely do it? Could they make a beer that catches the essence of Punk IPA at a low abv. We are living in a renaissance of low alcohol beers after all. So, I decided to give it a try. In keeping with Brewdog’s business ethos, I went with music with no punk spirit at all – the Rotten Citizens Vol 1 EP. A mix of dark electronic tunes by varied artists.

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