Tag Archive: 0-3% ABV


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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De Halve Maan: Sport Zot (Belgium: Low Alcohol: 0.4% ABV)

Visual: Yellowed gold. Slightly hazy. Massive white, loose bubbled head that leaves lace.

Nose: Soft lime. Wheaty. Brown sugar. Light pepper.

Body: Gentle. Brown sugar. Golden syrup. Sports drinks. Glucose. Honeycomb. Oily bitterness.

Finish: Slight charred bitterness. Tannins. White sugar.

Conclusion: This, like the low alcohol version of Leffe, makes me think that there is definitely room for a low alcohol take on the Belgian Ale, but it still needs some tweaking before we reach the sweet spot.

The aroma for this is spot on though. It mixes sweet notes from a Belgian blond, that slight peppery character for the gentle spice elements often used in Belgian ales and a wheaty general Belgian character. Even better for first impressions is how it hits the eyes, It has that massive head that comes with many a good Belgian blond and looks the part.

The body carries through some of the sweetness and an initially decent mouthfeel, but,like many low alcohol drinks, that kind of sport drink glucose notes is rapidly evident. Then again, they do call this “Sport” Zot, so at least they are owning this element. It still is not the best character to have in a beer. Despite that its got a reasonable, if light take on the Belgian blond, but unfortunately a lot of this is lost as you go into the finish.

The finish is, well, not exactly rough but kind of charred and tannin notes touched in a way that is kind of unpleasant. It is kind of the subtle edge of what would be rough if it was more intense, but as is is just a bit of a let down.

So a beer that starts well, but gets worse the further you get into it. Not a write off, but definitely needs work to be worth getting.

Background: Low ABV beers! I would claim my concentrating on them recently shows that I am an old man, but the news assures me this is totally the thing with “the youth of today”. So I must be young at heart. Honest. Anyway, another one from Indie Spirit. I’ve had their standard blond unpasteurised, unfiltered and on tap at the brewery. Was pretty nice. So this has a lot to live up to. Incidentally, why are a bunch of the low alcohol beers called “sport”? I don’t get it. Though they do taste like sports drinks a lot of the time. Anyway… After thinking about Rise Against: Endgame in my last set of notes, went for it as backing music for this one. Awesome album.

Tempest: Drop Kick (Scotland: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow. Thin white head. Some small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Sour. Musty. Pineapple. Passion-fruit. Flour. Tart.

Body: Tart. Soft pineapple and tart passion-fruit. Mild grapefruit. Slight chalk. Coconut. White bread.

Finish: Grapefruit. Slight chalk and flour. Passion-fruit. Coconut. Slight clean lager notes.

Conclusion: So, considering Dropkick Me Jesus was ok but not exceptional, it is interesting to find out that here in its low abv version it seems to have really found its place in the beer world. It is not quite as complex as the full abv version, but the nigh absent alcohol combines with the tart, easy drinking but hoppy character is a match made in heaven.

The tart notes area simple mix of grapefruit, passion-fruit and pineapple. It really catches that unusual passion-fruit flavour and feel amongst the tartness – resulting in a slightly musky, fluffy mouthfeel with the light acidity keeping it easy to drink. The general gist is a light tart character with a slight flour thickness of character giving a more beer like grip.

What is nice is that, despite the sour notes, the fruity elements feel distinctly like a hop character, making it feel much more beer like, rather than just being a spritzy kind of thing. I’d highly recommend it as a low abv choice – it is one of those rare beers that feel better for the lower abv. It makes it that bit easier going so becomes the super drinkable thing it was always meant to be. Good flavour and no worries. Even better late on some recognisable coconut notes come out, aping the original and giving gentle grounding.

One of the better low abv sour beers to have come out, which is a surprisingly hard fought category these days, and a good low abv beer in general. Very impressive.

Background: More low alcohol beer, and I was surprised to find out this exists – a low alcohol version of the sour IPA Dropkick Me Jesus. I generally enjoyed that one, even if it wasn’t perfect, so seeing this at Beercraft made it one to grab and try. Beercraft can be a tad expensive but their low abv selection is spot on. Not much else to add, too hot at the moment. I put on Louis Distras’ Street Revolution Ep while drinking – I need upbeat political protest tunes at the mo.

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

Visual: Reddened brown to mahogany. Clear main body with very small bubbled carbonation. Thin grey dash of a head.

Nose: Roasted. Nutty. Slightly chalky. Sour dough. Dry roasted peanuts.

Body: Nutty malt character. Brown sugar touch. Light chalk. Earthy touch. Slight sports drinks.

Finish: Light brown sugar. Charred wood. Mildly earthy character. Slight chalk.

Conclusion: This is a solid, middle of the road brown ale. Now that would seem like damning with faint praise, but this is rocking in at 0.5% abv, and because of that I can cut it some slack – managing to be an even middle of the road brown ale at low abv is impressive in itself. So sure, it doesn’t wow, but it is very much what you would expect from a brown ale.

As long as you don’t overly chill it down there really isn’t much sign of the lower alcohol content. There is just a slight glucose sports drink touch to the body. Now if you do over chill it, things get a bit more obvious. Like that the mouthfeel is much thinner, and loses a chunk of the flavour with it. So don’t do that, ok?

Had just slightly chilled it is a roasted, nutty and slightly earthy thing, with just a hint of brown sugar sweetness offsetting that. Everything a good brown ale should be,

It isn’t fancy or special but manages a good mouthfeel, beer like character and flavour, all without having to lean too heavily on the hops to do that like a lot of low abv beers do.

As of such I’m impressed. It may not be exceptional against a full abv brown ale, but it is bloody impressive for what it is and stands up as a decent enough expression in of itself.

Background: Big drop have pretty much established themselves as the masters of the low abv beer. So, I’ve had this one, their take on a brown ale a few times already. I tend to keep a bunch of low abv beers around for when I want an easy night. So I knew pretty much what to expect going in and was already aware I should not over chill it even though it is bloody warm again over here. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit, which was drunk while listening to the almost b-move horror metal that is Sigh: Gallows Gallery.

Grupo Damm: Free Damm – Non Alcoholic Lager Beer (Spain: Low Alcohol. 0% ABV)

Visual: Darkened yellow. Moderate white head. Very small amounts of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Sugar dusting. Wet cardboard. Fresh cooked rice. Fresh white bread.

Body: Sugar dusting. Sweet vanilla. Glucose drinks. White bread.

Finish: Vanilla. Artificial glucose drink touch. Light hop character. Slight gentle lime. Long lasting.

Conclusion: This is kind of empty. Kind of neutral. Kind of, well, just there. The best I can say is that, while it tastes kind of like the bland mainstream lagers that were my first encounters with beer as a child, it doesn’t taste any worse for being alcohol free. So, slightly better than Tesco Value Lager! Woooo!

So, let’s look at the good side first – be positive! Well the low carbonation means that this isn’t a Fosters like soda stream of a lager which is nice. It is fairly clean and refreshing. Emr… ok, I’m running out of things to say on this side.

There are a few elements that give away it is a low alcohol beer – mainly that kind of sports drink glucose touch which pops up, though a lot less evident than in a lot of similar beers. Generally though it just tastes like the mediocre, generic kind of flavourless lager.

That makes it a hard one to write about, there isn’t really anything to get your teeth into. There are no elements that are rough, harsh or otherwise stand out as unpleasant. Mainly because it doesn’t have much in the way of any flavour.

Well… it is better than Fosters!

There, notes done.

Background: So, very little to put in this part. Was in Sainsbury’s, saw that they had a pack of this low alcohol beer, thought I would give it a try. Oddly, despite being 0% ABV you still need authorisation to buy it at the checkout. Go figure. Anyway, that is all, I like trying new low to no alcohol beers, this was one of them. Put music on random for this, had no real intent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Still a nice twist on a a still awesome beer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visual: Black. Still. Moderate sized beige head.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Visual: Black. Still. Large beige head.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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