Tag Archive: 0-3% ABV


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.

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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.

Mikkeller: Weird Weather Non-alcoholic (Denmark: Low Alcohol IPA: 0.3% ABV)

Visual: Light hazy lemon to pineapple juice. Very large white bubbled head that leaves suds.

Nose: Isotonic drinks to Pocari Sweat. Pineapple. Tart grapes. Light tannins. Vanilla. Wheat.

Body: Pineapple. Isotonic drinks. Grapes. Glucose tablets. Lime cordial. Lemon.

Finish: Soft lemon. Grapes. Lucozade. Light hop bitterness and very light hop roughness. Light peach. Vanilla.

Conclusion: Why do so many low abv beers have a subtle isotonic drink to lucozade kind of taste? I’m sure there is a scientific explanation, but it just seems an odd element to be so reoccurring.

Anyway, this feels like a mix of isotonic drinks, Mikkeller’s Drink in the Sun, with just a dash of New England IPA style. There is nearly no hop bitterness – not in oiliness or hop feel either, except for the lightest of touches from a rough hop character element in the finish.

Flavour wise there is light tart fruit – pineapple, lemon backed by some sweeter peach notes, but they are very gentle. Then again, I’ve always found the NEIPA kind of overly gentle for me, with a few notable exceptions. It is soothing in flavour, if not especially special – at times the grapes and pineapple can be pretty rewarding, at others a kind of glucose tablets to isotonic drinks mehness comes out.

Mehness is a word.

So, ok, I’d say it is the weaker cousin of Drink In The Sun, but it does have its own elements. Then again I may have been spoiled as I’ve had DITS on tap where it utterly rocked, while I’ve only had this in can and I’m guessing this would benefit similarly from being on tap.

A nice enough beer for the low alcohol range, but the bar has recently been risen by the awesome Big Drop: Pale Ale, so everyone else is playing catch up now.

background: Huh, there is also an alcohol version of this, and a gluten free one, and an IIPA and.. ok, naming is just getting confusing here. Really going to have to be careful ordering this if you are the designated driver of your group. Anyway, I first tried this after seeing it at beercraft but didn’t do notes then, since it was ok I grabbed a few more cans of it from beerhawk while doing an order to grab a few rarities I had spotted there. Anyway it is described as a New England IPA, which is a brave attempt for a beer that racks in at a mere 0.3% abv. Some of you may notice the IPA glasses are back – I can’t say if they actually make the beer smell or taste better but after I broke the original glass I did notice I missed it when doing IPAs – it adds a bit of glitz to the event, so I pulled my thumb out and grabbed a replacement. Drunk while listening to Paradise Lost – Draconian times. Still one of my favourite albums, such great gloomy heavy tunes.

Big Drop: Lager (England: Low abv Pale Lager: 0.5%)

Visual: Very pale yellow to grain. Thin white head. Not much carbonation.

Nose: Water. Some soft citrus.

Body: Chalky. Woody. Watery. Slight hop oils. Slight vanilla as it warms. Slight sulphur.

Finish: Cardboard. Twigs. Chalk. Sulphur.

Conclusion: After the great Pale Ale from Big Drop (Which has become an even better beer since I did notes on it – recent bottlings have been amazing) this is a pretty big let down I am sorry to say.

So, to be fair, to get a genuinely decent lager without resorting to tricks is a hard enough task, without having to try and do it at low abv, but even with that taken into account this comes out very flat. The main notes are chalky and rough so it doesn’t have that traditional lager drinkability, nor the excellent use of texture in the best lagers. Similarly it doesn’t bring any of the subtle flavours that a good lager gets from having a long time from cold lagering. It ends up one dimension, rough, watery and without weight.

I did allow this to warm up a bit to see if that altered the profile at all. A small amount of extra flavour comes out – some vanilla, some hop oils, but it is vague and gets lost behind the rougher notes.

Unfortunately there is not much else I can say on this one – it is weak feeling and rough. I think it needs a heavy rework, or just started again from scratch to get a decent beer out of it. I hope the Big Drop crew do take another shot at it – they have shown a lot of skills in their other beers, so I figure they are up to the challenge – but right now? This is one to avoid.

Background: Big Drop are tuning out a range of 0.5% or less beers, including their great Pale Ale which I highly recommend. So I saw that they had a lager out now at Independent Spirit, so decided to give it a go. This was drunk on a bloody cold night so I actually slammed the heat up for drinking this, and I say that as someone from the north. Put on Lacuna Coil – Unleashed Memories while drinking – I prefer their old Gothic influenced days over the heavier style they seem to do recently. Good stuff.

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

Visual: Pale yellow. Clear with a thin off white head and some small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Pineapple. Grapefruit. Soft lemon. Fresh. Vanilla. Grapes. Apricot. Cake sponge.

Body: Moderate bitterness. Lemon fresh. Cake sponge. Light chalk. Prickly hop feel. Passionfruit. Dried apricot.

Finish: Light chalk. Lime cordial. Fluffy hop feel. Popcorn. Vanilla. Moderate hop bitterness. Grapes. Cake sponge. Kiwi.

Conclusion: This is described as a pale ale, and it definitely has the level of hop usage you would expect from that style, but for some reason the body brings a character that reminds me more of golden ales.

That body is, incidentally, what makes this beer really stand out. It is a lower than half a percent abv beer but still manages a gentle cake sponge gripping texture which matches well against the prickling hop feel. Most low alcohol beers really have to assault you with the hops to get over the lack of texture that comes with the low abv, but this manages the grip amazingly well.

That body means that this can use the hop flavours in a more nuanced way – with soft fruitiness, a huge range of those fruits coming in from aroma to finish, eschewing the more brutal hop assault.

It is very easy to drink. It uses refreshingly crisp bitter hops rather than bracing hops, continues the refreshing theme with lovely citrus flavour and that aforementioned cake sponge body gives it that natural beery feel – far more than you would imagine it should be capable of.

A great beer for pretty much any time – as a beer in itself it is a solid beer, as a low abv beer it is great. This is up with Mikkeller’s low abv efforts, and that is a high compliment.

Background 1,500 beer notes done! With the number of great beers I had done in the past for special numbers of tastings I was unsure what to break out for this one. So, in a moment of contrary nature I decided to go with this one – a low abv beer from the comparatively new “Big Drop” brewery. I’ve had this a few times over the past six months when I was having a dry day and have been enjoying it – so against expectations of some big booming high abv thing I decide to go the other way and examine what can be done at the low end of the spectrum. Another beer grabbed from independent spirit. This was drunk while listening to some Nine Inch Nails – mainly as I am watching the new Twin Peaks and was surprised to see the band on there – got me in the mood for their tunes again.

Brekeriet: Picnic Sour Ale (Sweden: Low Alcohol Sour Ale: 2.2% ABV)

Visual: Hazy lemon juice. Small white head. Fizzing carbonation.

Nose: Rhubarb. Oats. Horse blankets. Lightly tart- pineapple and soft tangerine.

Body: Acidic. Lemon. Dry. Slight cardboard. Tart rhubarb and pineapple. Chalky. Tart raspberry.

Finish: Dry. Squeezed lemon. Slight chalk. Rhubarb rises up over time. Tangerine.

Conclusion: If only there was as much rhubarb in the rest of the beer as the aroma promised. The aroma just oozes rhubarb, I could smell it the entire time I was doing the initial photos to go with these notes. A simple aroma admittedly, but enticing definitely.

The main body still has some rhubarb, more acidic lemon than that, but also it comes with a dull cardboard middle which hurts it. Similarly the generally tart beer has a soft chalkiness that it really doesn’t have enough body to accommodate.

The finish does recover a bit – with the rhubarb fully developing again. Over time the beer does shift back and forth in how it feels – some times it comes across quite full and fruity, other times quite empty and chalky. Generally the longer you hold the beer, the more likely it is that some of the rougher elements come out.

So, it is close to working – some times you get everything coming together just right – but it is too variable in how it comes across. Even when it is more full bodied it is fairly simple in delivery; You get the lemon, the rhubarb and the pineapple at the core – though sometimes a slight tangerine and raspberry come out, especially as time goes on.

I want to like this beer, but it just can’t hold its good points reliably – resulting in an overly dry and chalky feel as you drink on..

A good attempt with distinctly sub optimal results.

Background: After having a great time with the last Brekeriet sour beer I tried, I decided to pick up this low abv one – Looked very interesting, made with rhubarb, which is something I am a big fan of. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to a bit of Erock on youtube.

Wild Beer Co: Rooting Around: Spring (England: Spice/Herb/Vegetable: 3% ABV)

Visual: Very pale grain to yellow. Short lived thin white head. Clear body with small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Herbal. Mildly minty. Slight lemon.

Body: Wet wood. Some bitterness. Sage and onion. Fizzy feel. Slight chalk. Bready. Somewhat empty. Crushed leaves. Cardboard. Mild apricot. Watercress. Light tartness.

Finish: Wet wood. Slight cardboard. Wet. Leaves. Slight granite. Watercress. Lemongrass.

Conclusion: Not the best start for this year’s Wild Beer Co’s set of themed beers. Last years smoked range was hit and miss, but when it hit it hit very well. This, the first of the foraged elements made beers, is really very empty and lower than the weakest of the smoked beer range they did.

There is a dry pale base, and a bit of greenery and … Well a kind of watery taste I guess and …erm that’s it. It reminds me of the Brewdog vs Flying dog set of beers where they attempted a pre hop IPA, except without any of the intensity.

The most this seems to manage is a kind of brown bread and watercress style, with a touch of lemon backing, and is about as exciting as that sounds. And I mean not very if you had problem breaking that code.

Ok, I am being a bit too harsh – if you let it warm there is a very subtle fresh tartness there that rises up, but it is faint indeed. Also, for all they don’t do much with it, the base is very well brewed – dry, and well attenuated as a low abv beer – it is just that virtually nothing is added to that, be it hop, spice, flavours from the leaves, etc. They should take this base and use it for something with a bit more umph.

So, has just enough to save it from being a drain pour, or being added to the vile putrid filth tag here. It isn’t that bad, but is is very basic. Maybe some light lemon, light pineapple, but really doesn’t add enough to make it worth having

Just a very empty beer.

Background: Last year Wild Beer Co did four seasonal smoked and oaked beers. This year they seem to be doing four based on foraged elements close to their brewhouse. This, the spring entry, is a low abv, ultra pale ale made with leaves and buds of Beech and Linden trees, and a large percentage of rice in the mix. I was unsure how well this would work, but figured I’d give it a go – if it works out nice I always like a good, lower abv beer. Drunk while listening to the awesome Jack off Jill – Sexless Demons and Scars album.

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