Tag Archive: Low Alcohol


Mash Gang: Alpha Delta: High Definition (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy pale lemon juice coloured body. Thin white loose bubbled head.

Nose: Lemon juice and grapefruit. Lightly tart. Light flour like hop feel and light bitterness. Grapes. Light peach.

Body: Flour feeling. High hop bitterness. Light charring. Greenery. Sour lemon juice backing. Light menthol. Grapefruit.

Finish: Lemon juice. Flour. Gunpowder tea. Grapes. Menthol. Grapefruit.

Conclusion: This is odd in many ways, but mainly that is is a low abv beer that manages to come across as very, well, beer like, and yet not in a style that a see much in the normal beer world. Maybe, I have encountered a beer or two in the vague ballpark as this, but in general it feels like a low abv beer that is happy to experiment and be itself rather that trying to ape the style of a higher abv beer.

Well, that or my finger really isn’t on the pulse of beer styles any more and beers like this are turning up everywhere. Which is possible.

It is actually a really good style I would like to see more of. It reminds me of an XPA (which is itself an odd style) with heavy bitterness and an out of the way dry malt base, but lightly soured in a way that takes away what can be an overly harsh feel to the XPA style.

I mean, it is still harshly bitter, with a flour like, clingy hope feel into gunpowder tea and charring at the end, it is just the light tartness makes it all much more manageable.

Flavour-wise it has gentle tart lemon juice and grapefruit notes as the main job, generally tart fruit juice like notes that work well with the bitterness.

It isn’t perfect. The harsher notes can become too present but it is a really good beer with the deliberately out of the way malt character of the style meaning that those elements don’t feel like a tell of low alcohol like they normally would, instead feeling like a natural part of the beer style.

Drunk blind I would not have guess the actual abv of this, and would have still very much have enjoyed it. A very impressive, very experimental beer and a great one at the low abv.

Background: Took me a while to work out the name for this – initially misread the symbols on the front of this as ADHD, and did a double take before realising it was a Delta symbol in the middle. Anyway HD stands for High Definition, the name which is only actually visible on the side of the beer. Nothing like making it hard for me to work out what your beer is called. This was grabbed from Beercraft which tends to have an interesting low alcohol selection. This being a collaboration with Alpha Delta who I haven’t encountered before, and described as being inspired by a New York State Sour Pale Ale, it definitely caught my attention. Looking online it uses El Dorado Incognito, Citra Spectrum, Talus and Mandarina Bavaria for the hops and has Orange oil, Madagascan bourbon vanilla, malic acid, yerba mate, and green coffee bean in it. I had to look up what some of those were! Also they describe the malt bill as including “rye, spelt, wheat and oats and features multiple grain size of the same variant “ – So, well they went full on in on making this an odd one. For appropriate background music I went for Polyphia – New Levels, New Devils. The odd math rock stylee seemed appropriate.

Ridgeway: Good Elf (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale clear yellow gold. Some small bubbled carbonation in the body. A centimetre of tight bubbled white head.

Nose: Kiwi to lime. Slightly crusty bread hop character. Light vanilla. Light bitterness. Fresh bread dough.

Body: Soft lime. Vanilla. Hop prickle. Thin custard. Sweet grapes. Slight sulphur feel.

Finish: Sour dough. Prickly into fluffy hops. Lime and grapes. Vanilla. Icing sugar dusting.

Conclusion: This is the opposite of what you tend to expect from a Christmas beer. It is light in colour, low in abv, golden ale like in hop use with a fresh hop prickle and green fruit flavours. I don’t think it goes the traditional Christmas route at even a single point.

I mean I’m not saying it isn’t nice, it is just unexpected.

The body is crisp and clean at the base, but with a slight real ale like sulphur touch that gives it a bit more weight and grip than you would expect. While not a heavy beer it definitely doesn’t have any watery elements that shout low abv, and that bit more grip means that it can give a nice solid prickle of hop bitterness without having to resort to an all out assault of hops to overcome the drawbacks of a thinner beer.

The fruitiness is sweet green grapes, with brighter lime takes and heavier kiwi touches under. It isn’t anything super fancy but matches the golden ale style well and gives some sweet release from the impressively but not overpoweringly bitter hops.

Overall it is a really good low abv beer that feels like it should be around all year rather than hidden away fro Christmas.

Background: So, we are into February, time for me to start doing Christmas beer notes. In my defence I didn’t do much at all around Christmas, sorry for that. Will try and get things going again. This is a low alcohol beer grabbed from Independent Spirit. Ridgeway also do a Bad Elf beer, which is higher abv but also seems not much like a traditional Christmas ale in style. This is its low abv cousin. Went with The Royal They: Foreign Being as backing music.

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

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

Nose: Brown sugar. Squeezed orange. Golden syrup.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ah well, a bold experiment at least.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ok, here goes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Impressive.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, a nice low alcohol surprise for me today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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