Tag Archive: 0-3% ABV


Big Drop: Hop Notch: Fläderlätt Elderflower (England: low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear yellow gold body with a large white head that leaves suds – along with moderate amounts of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Grapes. Elderflower. Slight honey. Light fluffy hop character Flour. Fresh white bread.

Body: Elderflower. Elderberry. White grapes. Slightly tart. Flour. Fluffy hop character. Vanilla. Moderate bitterness. White bread.

Finish: Elderberry. Low but present hop character and bitterness. Tart grapes. Peppery. Pineapple.

Conclusion:Ok, yep definitely elderflower in here, or possibly elderberry. I definitely have a different mental image for both, which seems to match to what they should taste like, but I am aware I could be full of shit. It’s not like I shove a bunch of flowers down my gob regularly to check.

Anyway, a very berry influenced beer in flavour – lightly tart, with some tart grapes and a general fresh, clean feeling to it. It is a real palette cleanser of a beer for the most part, but then, after your mouth has been freshened it then lays down its own beery layer. That layer is a fluffy, flour and hops feel that is moderate but not excessively sticky. It is kind of slightly sweet, with some higher vanilla notes, while also bringing weight to the character.

The flour like, nicely bitter hops stop it from being a super refresher of a beer, as they hang around a long time – but overall I feel it benefits the drink by giving it a good solid beer character so it doesn’t end up feeling like an elderflower soft drink.

It is not super complex, but it does its base idea well in a fresh, beery, easy to drink way that goes down easy. It is welcome and fits its low abv perfectly with its drinkability. I could do with having a few of these to hand for general drinking.

Background: Third of the beers from the second low alcohol collaboration box. This uses Mozart hops, which are apparently a new experimental UK hop which should be interesting. I presume it is made with elderflower – the ingredients list “Natural Flavouring”. Anyway, a tart aimed IPA, should be up my street. Hop Knotch is from Sweden, or so a quick google says. A new one to me. Went back to the ever classic At The Drive In – Relationship of Command for drinking music. Because it is great. Anyway, another beer grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Big Drop: Einstok: Arctic Beach Coconut Stout (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still and opaque main body. About a centimeter of browned head.

Nose: Coconut. Milky chocolate. Almonds to marzipan. Hot cake sponge.

Body: Milky chocolate. Lots of coconut. Cake sponge. Mild iced tea. Occasional light black cherry. Good texture – fluffy cake sponge like. Slight sulfur.

Finish: Clean. Coconut. Almonds. Light charring. Light bitter chocolate. Iced tea.

Conclusion: Ok, you all probably know by now that I love coconut notes, and this is a literal coconut stout, so I have to love it, right?

Well, love it may be too strong a choice of words, but in general, yeah, this is my jam. The coconut is super present in a very clear, slightly dry way. So, in case you hadn’t working it out yet, make sure you are a coconut fan before coming in on this one as it DOMINATES!

The main body is fairly simple. Basically working moderate chocolate and heavy coconut. Chilled down it is slightly, but not overly, thin. A it warms it gets a surprisingly fluffy cake sponge kind of thicker texture which really helps the stout feel.

As always the aroma promises waaaay beyond that the body can deliver. Lots of thick cake sponge and almond to marzipan like notes. Somehow the air itself has a wonderful thickness to it. One day we will get a low abv beer that manages to live up to wonderful aromas like this.

For now I’m just happy this is decent. Not really complex, but has a bit of nuttiness and a few hints of other flavours that show it is trying. On the down side there are occasional tells to the low abv in iced tea notes, but the darker beer style means that they are rare.

An ok low abv stout that utterly rocks the coconut and so pushes itself higher than it would otherwise.

Background: Second beer tried from Big Drop’s second world Collaboration box – the Nordics. This one is done in collaboration with Einstok. I’ve had a couple of their beers before. Nothing stand out but nothing terrible. This one definitely caught my eye as a stout made with coconut. I adore coconut notes in my stouts. Looking at the can this was made with Magnum hops, which seems to be a common choice for their non hop led beers, as well as lactose, cocoa nibs and, of course, coconut. Had been playing the free 5th chapter for Ultimate Doom – known as “Sigil” recently, so went with Buckethead’s soundtrack for that as background while drinking. That version of Doom: Sigil cost’s around seven pounds, unlike the midi sound version which is free – but the tunes are awesome and well worth it.

Sharp’s (Molson Coors) : Doom Bar Zero (England: Low Alcohol: 0.0% ABV)

Visual: Reddened brown. Moderate beige head. Clear main body. No real evident carbonation on the eye.

Nose: Walnuts. Crushed peanuts. Lightly earthy.

Body: Chalky. Nutty. Walnuts. Charring. Subtle toffee. Dry treacle. Earthy. Prickling. Mild savoury cream core.

Finish: Chalk. Nutty. Charred touch. Dry treacle touch. Earthy. Fluffy hop feel. Moderate bitterness.

Conclusion: Is making a low abv take on a more traditional British bitter a thing now? I hope so. You don’t realise how much you wanted a beer style being done in a low abv way until a bunch land on your lap, like three buses arriving at once after a long wait.

Like the low abv Speckled Hen before it this has a pretty good mouthfeel. Though this has a less syrupy, Marstons like texture than The Speckled Hen did – aiming instead more towards a slightly drier and more prickly bitter feel, which I approve of.

The flavours are similarly towards a more traditional style – earthy in the bitterness, nutty in flavour, with a good hop fluffiness in the finish. Now, comparing it to my memories of the full abv version is going to be slightly vague, as it has been a while since I had one of those, but from memory, this seems to have less evident toffee sweetness – which makes sense given the lower abv. Also it seems less sulphurous. I am aware though that I used to mainly drink Doom Bar on cask, so this may be a bottle vs cask thing rather than a low vs normal abv thing.

It is a solid beer, earthy and dry enough to be very easy to drink. In fact if it was alcoholic I would call it dangerously so – but as it it slips down right.

Now it is nothing too out of the normal, but I am finding it better than all the similar low alcohol traditional bitters I have encountered so far. So, for now it fills the place in the line up nicely, and shows that there really is a place for more earthy alcohol free bitters.

Background: Yes I will do non low abv notes again one day. Blame covid. It is the reason for everything else bad so it might as well take this one on the chin as well. Anyway, saw this in Sainsbury’s and after my decent experience with low abv Speckled Hen thought I would give it a try. This is a surprising 0.0% abv beer, not even 0.5, so again I guess they probably brewed it then artificially removed the alcohol rather than brewed it as a low alcohol beer. Though that is just a guess. Doom Bar is a beer I am surprised I never did notes on the normal version. Short story of my experience. Initially found it very dull, but then one day boom – I had one that seemed so much more complex with sweet toffee under the sulphur. It was then I realised the importance of well kept casks and fast cask beer turnover. Most places I had it just were not treating it right as it was their token cask beer. Done well it was a satisfying pint. Went for SOPHIE: Oil Of Every Pearl’s Un-Sides again for music while drinking. Loving it.

Big Drop: Amundsen: Rush Rider Pastry Sour (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Light, clear yellow brown. Small bubbled carbonation in small amounts. Thin white head.

Nose: Fresh raspberry. Fresh strawberry. Jelly babies. Apple pie jelly centres.

Body: Slightly chalky. Danish pastries. Jelly babies. Cider.

Finish: Apple pie. Chalky. Gummy bears (Different from Jelly babies, yes?). Pears. Apple juice.

Conclusion: Ok, I’m split on this one. It is pretty unusual. Admittedly I’ve not dug much into the pastry sour scene, so maybe this is 100% normal there and not a big thing, but it is odd to me.

The aroma is full on Jelly Babies sweet, with fresh red fruit in a more natural way alongside those more artificial flavours. Soooo, pretty unlike any beer I have encountered. Very interesting, it isn’t very sour, nor even really pastry for the most part, but very dessert styled.

Chilled down the body is fairly empty and lightly chalky, with only a light sour characteristic and no real definition to it. Then again I find that issue common with a lot of low abv beers, as it warms it becomes more cider sour with those jelly baby notes coming through again. That said, it never becomes as rich and fruity as the aroma promises.

The finish returns to some of that apple pie centres and more jelly babies. Tart apple underlining it, but still chalky.

It is decent but the main two flaws, that being the charring and the lack of weight mid body, both give away the low abv. The aroma is amazing, and the finish lets the jelly baby and light sour notes roam, but the mid body just can’t seem to get the grip to really deliver. You are relying on the air of the finish for a lot of the fun. And it is fun, but the body should be doing its job as well.

So, yeah good aroma and very fun finish. This is a laugh, but sours seem to get especially short changed by less that 1% abv beers. Which is odd considering how many great sours there are on the lower end of the abv scale. So this is decent, fun, but not great.

Background: Low alcohol stuff! Man this is nearly turning into the low alcohol and whisky blog. Anyway, Big Drop, doing their second collab box with people around the world. This time with various Nordic countries – this one being with the Amundsen brewery from Norway. Though I will point out their first world collab box was with the UK, where they are based, so does that even count? Eh, probably, we are in the world, much as some people living here seem to hate to admit it. Anyway, this is a pastry sour, which is an odd concept to me, but seems a popular style at the mo. Looking at the ingredient list it is Magnum hopped, and has Malt Vinegar, Malic acid and Citric acid in its odd ingredients. Guess that is what is needed to get the sour style at low abv. I went with the Undertale Live Orchestra as live music again. It is a nicely quirky but chilled style that works well for drinking. The box of beers was grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Big Drop: Good Things Irish Stout (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Opaque black. Good inch or so of mounded creamy brown head.

Nose: Roasted nuts. Milky chocolate. Slight cream. Slight charring. Milky coffee.

Body: Roasted character. Dry. Chalk touch. Bitter coffee. Sour cream touch.

Finish: Charring. Bitter. Dry coffee bitter character. Bitter cocoa. Sour cream touch.

Conclusion: Ok, you may have seen the can – some of you may have even seen the text on the back of it. It is making some very obvious references to a certain beer from a certain brewery. Because of that, you may think that this is going to be the low alcohol take on the creamy keg version of Guinness. It is not.

Instead it is a, to my mind far more impressive, low alcohol take on the classic dry Irish stout style bottled Guinness and oh yes it has hit its target.

The normal tells of a low alcohol beer are nearly invisible here, in part due to the style choice, and of course due to quality brewing. The low alcohol notes normally evident, such as iced tea or isotonic drinks character are hidden easily by the charred and coffee notes. The dry character of an Irish stout also means that the thinner body of a low alcohol beer isn’t really a problem here. It feels nicely attenuated, and has a bit more weight than usual – though don’t go into it expecting anything too heavy. It has weight for a low alcohol beer, not for a big stout.

Now, I will admit it, the dry Irish stout isn’t my favourite of the beer styles. I find it too, well, drying for me. Shocking I know. Even with that said, this is a good beer, lots of coffee bitter notes, lots of roasted notes, hints of bitter cocoa though with no sweeter chocolate release, again probably a character of the style, not a flaw in the beer.

So, a decent Irish dry stout, even more impressive for the low abv. I enjoy it even though I am not a fan of the style, and, considering that it utterly nails the style, I have the feeling that if you are a fan of that, then this is going to rock your low abv world.

Background: For those of you who have not seen the can, the text on the back is “Good things do come to those who wait. But when tick follows tock, follows tick follows tock, we thought, hang on, toucan play at that game. And whilst we don’t want to harp on about it, it was a bit like pushing at an open gate: our AF stouts are some of the best in the world. So here’s our Irish Stout. “ Now, maybe I’m reaching, but there seems to be some subtle references in there. And by subtle I mean not subtle. At all. Anyway, more experimentation with low alcohol beers is always of interest to me, so I had to grab myself a few cans of this from Independent Spirit to give a go. Anyway, went with Miracle Of Sound: Level 11 for backing music again. We are in 2021 and A Long Year already sounds far too relevant again.

Lervig: No Worries – Driving Home For Christmas (Norway: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown. Large, loose mounds of browned head that leaves suds.

Nose: Spicy. Turmeric. Cinnamon sticks. Cloves. Greenery. Very Christmas spice. Slight toffee and coffee.

Body: Peppery. Slight iced tea. Toffee. Some bitterness. Light charring. Cinnamon.

Finish: Ginger. Greenery. Peppery. Moderate hop bitterness. Bitter treacle.

Conclusion: This is nicely pleasing. It is very spice dominated in flavour, but despite that the spice flavours don’t feel overdone. Which is a nice trick if you can manage it.

It is, as the name would suggest, all about the Christmas spice, which gives a slightly mulled beer character to this dark ale.

The base also has a darker style toffee base and more bitter than normal take on a treacle note above some notes of charring. The base feel present, and reasonably tasty, but it is definitely intended to work mainly as a backing to the spice.

There are hints of that iced tea character so commonly present in low alcohol beers, but the darker flavours and spice seems to hide it much better than usual. It doesn’t feel heavy, which isn’t suprising considering the lack of malt being used, but that seems to work with the spice flavour. The spice, while strong, doesn’t stick around, so doesn’t outstay its welcome like it would in a bigger beer.

This, not usually a spice fan, approves.

Background: Ok, beer, you know there was zero percent chance I was heading home for Christmas this year, let alone driving home. You didn’t have to rub it in. Anyway, here is to everyone staying home this year to keep everyone safe. I’m raising my glass to you. Apart from being low alcohol this seems to have nothing in common with the standard Lervig: No Worries. That was a light IPA like beer, this is a dark spiced ale. Still, low abv, so I can see why they kept the naming convention. This was grabbed from Beercraft, their low abv selection tends to be on point, even if they tend to be slightly expensive in general. Went with the classic album from Against Me – Transgender Dysphoria Blues – while drinking. Still not a bad track on that album.

Big Drop: Kinzig Gateaux Stout (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. A grey/brown to off white head.

Nose: Black cherry to black cherry syrup. Chocolate dust. Black forest gateaux. Chalk touch.

Body: Slightly chalky. Iced tea. Slightly creamy. Charred notes. Slight blackberry.

Finish: Black cherry air. Lightly watery. Chalk touch. Mild cocoa. Slight coriander and ginger. Slight cream. Charring.

Conclusion: This is pretty much the opposite of the Speckled Hen Low Alcohol I had recently. This is all shiny and spectacle, with lots of class but really needs some more mouthfeel and weight.

The flavours are subtle, but the aroma is not. On the nose there are lots of black cherry and black forest gateaux that just floats out of the glass. Very dessert stout like, without being sickly sweet. Very nice.

The body comes in with the same flavours as the aroma promises, just lighter. It definitely needs to be somewhere around room temperature – when chilled down it loses 90% of the flavour. Warmer it has nice, if light flavours – similar gateaux character, with that iced tea like backing that is often a tell of low alcohol beers.

The finish has similar cream and dark fruit notes over a slightly chalky and charred underlying character that works well, but with the lighter body feels like it isn’t 100% needed.

This is reasonable, but definitely needs more body. If they can nail that, give the flavours some more grip, then this would be epic.

As is, it is ok, interesting, but light.

Background: I love Big Drop’s dedication to low abv beers, so have been trying as many of their products as I can. This is one of their seasonal range – coming in a larger can, and at a slightly higher cost, for something a bit different. Grabbed from Independent Spirit, I’ve had this one a few times already before doing these notes, and I put on IDLES: Ultra Mono again for backing music. Some emotionally open yet angry tunes. Kind of a mood recently. Not much else to add. Happy whatever you celebrate, or just a happy day to anyone who doesn’t.

Green King: Morland: Old Speckled Hen: Low Alcohol (England: low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear reddish brown with a frothy off white, creamy head. Some small bubbled carbonation, but not much at all.

Nose: Chestnuts and treacle. Occasional light strawberry touches. Earthy touch. Sticky toffee pudding.

Body: Good weight to the mouthfeel. Sticky toffee pudding. Chalk touch. Lightly earthy. Crushed peanuts. Lightly creamy. Slight milky coffee at the back.

Finish: Blended whisky that has been 50/50 mixed with water. Treacle. Slightly dusty.

Conclusion: This has always been a low abv beer that fills an often missed niche in the low alcohol drinks market.

It fills in that nutty, slightly sticky traditional British bitter style. I would say traditional real ale style, but this is blatantly not that. It, instead has that mildly syrupy feel that I associate with a lot of the Marstons, and other similar pasteurised beers.

It actually works really well, giving a weight and thickness often missing for low alcohol beers, which gives it a distinct, beery character. In fact, I think if I had done this blind I wouldn’t have guessed this was a below 1% abv beer. I wouldn’t have guessed it as a heavy duty one, but definitely not that low. Which is impressive I will say.

Any which way, it isn’t a fancy one – neither heavy hopped or with a massive malt load style, but you know what? We have tons of beers that work the fruity, hoppy low abv style, a bunch of clean lagers, hop bombs and even a few trying for stouty character. What I haven’t seen much of is a simple, earthy British bitter style, which is what this feels like.

It is very solid, and , as mentioned, hard to recognise as a low abv beer. It very much earns its spot and does a lot to avoid the usual low abv flaws.

Does the job very nicely.

Background: Grabbed this from Sainsbury’s when I was in there. Have had it a few times before. Looking back through the notes I remember being pretty happy with the cask version of Old Speckled Hen, but being both low abv and the pasteurised bottle version, this will be a very different beast. Not much else to add. I put on Korn: See You On The Other Side while drinking. No real reason, just felt like it. Make of that what you will.

Big Drop: Poolside DDH IPA (England: low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold body with some small bubbled carbonation. Huge yellow white loose head that leaves suds.

Nose: Peach. Unbuttered popcorn. Kiwi. Soft lime. Lemon drizzled pancakes. Passion-fruit. Cake sponge. Lightly bitter.

Body: Iced tea. Kiwi. Slight teabags. Cake sponge. Moderate bitterness. Lightly peppery. Slight peach. Vanilla. Lime.

Finish: Good hop bitterness. Tannins. Lemony. Light charring. Apple. Good hop character. Lime. Kiwi. Peach.

Conclusion: I’m slightly split in my opinion of this one. It does a lot well, but there is one important point where I feel it is weaker than Big Drop’s Citra IPA and their Pale Ale. Weaker in character that is, they are all 0.5% abv for alcohol, natch.

The aroma is the best part – fresh and subtly layered. Lots of different fruit dancing around in there – you get a good range and a subtle hop character and bitterness working under it.

The bitterness grow in the main body, to become a decent kick by the time you get through to the finish. The fruit is never as complex as the aroma though. Instead of layers of juicy and fresh fruit notes you tend to get bursts of individual notes pushing through. There are still kiwi and lemon notes making the most distinct impression despite the growling bitterness.

The problem then is that it has that kind of iced tea and tannins notes which tend to show up in low alcohol beers, and especially early on they are much more present that in Big Drop’s other hoppy beers. I’m not sure why, but for all the quality hop work used here, it still shouts “low abv” more that most of Big Drop’s range.

It is still decent, good in fact – it is impressive in how it manages to balance the higher bitterness without needing the malt and higher abv to balance it – and it does show what you can do when you put more, and a wider range of, ingredients into a low abv beer.

It just needs a bit of tweaking – so close, just needs that touch more work to really shine.

Background: Second of Big Drop’s summer releases. This being more firmly in their area of strength being a hop led double dry hopped IPA. Looking at the can it is hopped with Azacca, Chinook, Mosaic and Motueka. Again had a few of these before doing the notes. Went with Rage Against The Machine’s self titled album as backing to drinking. Mainly as some people still don’t realise their songs are political apparently. So I need to keep pumping them out until people realise. Anyway, another beer from Independent Spirit.

Big Drop: Kodama IPL (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Darkened gold colour clear body. Very small bubbled carbonation. Medium sized crisp bubbled off white head.

Nose: Choc toffee. Choc lime. Lemongrass. Bubblegum. Lemon sherbet. Lightly prickly hops. Bourbon biscuits.

Body: Clean. Bourbon biscuits. Choc toffee. Lemongrass. Prickly hop character.

Finish: Lemongrass. Good hop character and bitterness. Choc toffee. Mild gherkin touch. Bubblegum. Bitterness grows over time. Fresh touch – slight grapefruit.

Conclusion: This is much more malt led than I expected from an IPL. There is lots of choc toffee notes that call to an East Cost IPA inspiration for this IPL. It isn’t thick in mouthfeel – actually quite clean textured and easy drinking in fact – until the hops come out to play at least.

The hops prickle – starting with low bitterness, but in the finish it keeps growing until it gives a decent punch whilst still allowing the main body to keep its easy drinking character.

The interesting this, for me at least as a fan of Sorachi Ace hops, is how those hops interplay with all this. (And there are also Nelson Sauvin hops, of which I am also a huge fan, but one thing at a time)

It gives those bubblegum and lemongrass filled notes that make this very different to to you usual low alcohol beer, lager or even IPL. I wonder if the more choc lime notes we get are the mix of the odd hop influence with the sweeter malt. Any which way it feels like an experiment in beer, rather than just an attempt to make a low alcohol version of an existing beer and that makes it very interesting indeed.

It’s prickly, kind of savoury with light freshness over that sweet base, and while you are trying to work out what each flavour actually is, that bitter finish comes it to make everything nice and simple in the end.

One of the better IPLs I’ve had, so as a low abv IPL it is great. The only flaw is an odd one for a low abv beer – the heavier malt flavour makes it less easy drinking over time, so it isn’t as sessionable as it could be.

Still, in general I love it.

Background: A summer release from the masters of the low abv beer – Big Drop! I’ve had a few of these already, but being low abv beers I tend to drink them so easily I never get around to do notes on them, so I made a distinct effort here to finally do some. This is an IPL made with Nelson Sauvin and Sorachi Ace hops – a combination of two of my favourite hops that need more show these days now they are no longer the new hotness. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Went with Heavens To Betsy: Calculated for background music. No real reason, was just in the mood.

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