Tag Archive: Low Alcohol

Good Karma: Love That Feeling Hefeweizen (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale lemon juice coloured, just slightly hazy clear body. Very thin white head.

Nose: Lemon juice. Creamy. Cinnamon. Scones with strawberry jam and cream. Scones with raisins. Slight wort mash. Fresh sour-dough.

Body: Orange zest. Lightly creamy. Cinnamon. Strawberry jam on scones. Sweetened lemon juice. Traditional lemonade. Slight sulphurous dough. Greenery bitterness.

Finish: Lemon juice. Strawberries and cream on scones. Orange juice. Traditional lemonade. Iced tea.

Conclusion: First things first, this doesn’t really taste like a hefeweizen. On the other hand it does taste reasonable. It tastes kind of like a fruity cream ale but with some low alcohol tells. Which isn’t the worst thing it could have been.

So, what elements are there that do seem hefeweizen like? Well there are lemon and orange citrus notes, albeit in a sweeter way than a traditional weisse. There is some bitterness but very gentle, also tiny hints of a wheaty character but nowhere near standard weisse levels. Similarly it is quite clear of body for a hefeweizen. It isn’t quite krystall weisse looking on the eye, but still pretty clear.

What it shows mostly though is something very different – a creamy character and the most odd scones with jam and cream style. Not unpleasant but deeply unusual. It is an enjoyable, creamy, fruity thing that seems closer to a cream ale than a hefeweizen.

There are low alcohol tells that show over time, most notable the iced tea like character. However since the beer already doesn’t feel much like its designated style, and the flavours match the thing it actually it, it doesn’t hurt the beer that much.

A bit odd, with nice and unusual flavours. A beer that manages to miss its intended style so much that it ends up as a reasonable example of a different one.

Background: This is another one from the Light Drinks batch I ordered of low to no alcohol beer. Good Karma list themselves as “We’re part of a culture shift towards a more sustainable, diverse and equal society.” I don’t know any of the details but I applaud the sentiment. They also say they “ brew beers that are made traditionally without any unnecessary fancy processes or even need any additions like lactose..” which must make it especially hard to make low abv beers, so I respect their dedication as they are really make life hard for themselves. Apart from that this is my first encounter with them so not much to add. No music this time, notes were done while chatting with friends,and sharing my thoughts on the beer live.

Nirvana: Dark and Rich Stout (May Also Be called Kosmic Stout) (England: Low Alcohol: 0.0% ABV)

Visual: Black, with red hues at the edges. Still body. A thin grey dash of a head.

Nose: Musty. Wet cardboard. Wet teabags.

Body: Wet teabags. Iced tea. Nutty. Chalk touch. Mild liquid chocolate. Wort.

Finish: Wet teabags. Tannins. Lightly nutty. Slight chocolate. Wort. Mild coffee comes out very late on in the beer.

Conclusion: This is a stout? Wait, I’ll go one further, this is a beer? Wait I’ll go further, this is not considered cruel and usual punishment if served to prisoners? Going back to the first question, they do realise there is more to a stout than just being dark, right?

This is utterly dominated by low alcohol tells. There are so many tea bag notes, and iced tea tells, and even worse this generic wort mash just mehness that fills so much of the beer. Again this is in something called a stout. It feels very artificial and raw, as if it only got half way through the brewing process. Which, considering the abv makes sense, but not in a good way.

Over time you get a generally nutty character, even some melted chocolate notes, but they are pushed so far below the general wort like character that it really isn’t worth the effort to excavate them.

The wort character gives it a rough edge, that oddly even feels like an alcoholic rough edge in an ALCOHOL FREE DRINK. This is either impressive or a crime so bad it should be punishable by death.

So, erm, this barely counts as a stout so calling it one feels like false advertising. It is also terrible as any kind of beer.

Avoid it. It is shit.

Background: Ok for once I will open up with the music I listened to while drinking this, as I have since realised I 100% should have gone with Nirvana Nevermind. I did not. Instead I went with Ulver : The Assassination of Julius Caesar, which is awesome as most Ulver is. Anyway, this is another one from Light Drinks from the batch I grabbed. Not tried any from Nirvana before, but I have seen them advertise a lot of Facebook. This may or may not be a good sign. Stouts seems especially hard to do in low alcohol beers, though a day before having this I tried another stout from that Light Drinks batch that was amazing. However I did not do notes. I must try to grab another can to do. It was spot on. Not much else to add – This is listed on the bottle as Dark and Rich Stout, but everything I can see online suggest that this is the same beer as their Kosmic Stout even though I couldn’t find that name on the bottle. I may be wrong though. From the ingredients list it seems actual chocolate was used to make this. Also “natural favourings” which is an ever usefully vague term.

Insel: Skipper’s Wet Hopped Pilsner (Germany: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Slightly hazy banana yellow body with toffee hints. Massive yellow white mounded head. Some very small bubbles in the body.

Nose: Very herbal. Greenery. Sage and onions. Slight vanilla. Very slightly oily.

Body: Charring. Herbal. Charred bitterness to gunpowder tea. Slight sulphur and smoke.

Finish: Gunpowder tea. Greenery. Dill leaves. Very herbal. Sage and onion. Charred bitterness. Paprika.

Conclusion: Ok, I know that it says wet hopped in the name, but I wasn’t expecting it to be this damn evident. This has greenery, sulphur and high bitterness to a level I would have expected in a moderate wet hopped IPA, so it is a bit of a surprise seeing this level of intensity in a lager.

So, this is still a lager, but quite thick feeling and sticky. A lot heavier that your standard clean pilsner, and with an even higher level of charred bitterness than I see from even the more hop forward pils.

Initially I found it too harsh, and I say that as a lover of hugely bitter IPAs. I am an utter fiend for the bitter hops normally. This, however had bitterness in a very gunpowder tea, charred and heavy way with very dry bitterness. Thankfully the thicker body to the lager I mentioned gives a lot to work with that bitterness so it makes it manageable.

Apart from that bitterness, this beer is also super herbal. Intense amounts of greenery themed spiciness that sticks around for a very long time. On that note, I am amused that since herb means bitter in German (or so google translate tells me) the back of the bottle lists herb/bitter as one of the flavour poles and is marked very high in that, inadvertently being more true than it ever intended as this is both super herbal and super bitter. So, they managed to sum up both of the main poles of this beer with just one entry. Very efficient.

This is so very different. I’ve seen very few lagers anywhere close to this, and absolutely no low alcohol beers like this. It feels like someone half and halfed a wet hopped IPA and a super bitter pils then just dumped a ton of herbs in it.

For me, it is too herbal for me to want it as a general drinking beer, but I am fascinated by it. Really well made, very different, just another one that is not 100% for me.

Background: So first time I read this breweries’ name I misread it as “Incel” which gave me pause. Thankfully I was wrong. Anyway I had heard very good things about this wet hopped pilsner, and it has won a bunch of beer awards that I was too lazy to look up. It may even have been some of the awards that actually mean something. Anyway, I put in an order of low abv beers from Light Drinks. We are blessed with a bunch of websites that sell a huge range of low abv beers these days, and this seemed to have a bunch I wanted to try so I gave them a go. Went back to Berried Alive: Fuego as background music for this, some intense stuff against the low abv. Though it turns out not low bitterness.

Paulaner: Weissbier Non-Alcoholic (Germany: Low alcohol: 0.0% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy banana yellow body. Huge mounded white head. Lots of small bubble carbonation, but hard to make out in the cloudy body.

Nose: Dried beef slices. Crisp. Brown bread. Vanilla. Cinnamon.

Body: Vanilla. Iced tea. Light fudge. Light banoffee. Cinnamon. Thick mouthfeel. Custard.

Finish: Orange zest. Cardboard bitterness. Malt chocolate. Dried beef slices. Custard. Wheat. Teabags.

Conclusion: Dried beef slices? Dried beef slices notes in a weisse? I’m as shocked as you are, but yep, there it is. Not a heavy note but there is a savoury, kind of meaty thing that hangs around the beer. Straight up, that isn’t the best note to have – but let’s put that to one side for now, look at the rest of the beer, and then we can come back to it.

So, the beer is fairly thick, giving a good texture with quite a sweet set of toffee and custard notes, even a hint of banoffee that calls to the banana notes you would expect from a weisse, just in a more dessert way. This applies to a low of the notes – the spice comes across more cinnamon than cloves or the more savoury spice of a lot of weisse beers. It isn’t bad, just sweeter and more easy going than expected.

The low alcohol is visible, as is often the case, in iced tea like notes mid body and dry teabags in the finish. Despite them managing a good texture with what malt they had, there is no hiding that this is an alcohol free beer.

So, looping back to the start and bringing that dried beef slices back into the conversation. It is still the same – just this dry, savoury note that seems to hand around the beer. With the fairly big sweetness it doesn’t manage to intrude too much – a flaw definitely – but not more so than those evident low alcohol tells. Just something to be aware of.

It is pleasant enough, but has a lot of non beery characteristics. It does the job if it is what is available, but is far from my main choice for low abv drinking.

Background: I don’t think I’ve ever tried the alcohol version of Paulaner Weisse so I can’t make any comparison between the two, but the beers I have tried of theirs have been very enjoyable. So, anyway, I saw this as part of the low alcohol selection at Beercraft, and decided to grab it for a try. Not much else to add apart from the fact I went with a bit of a mix of erock tunes on youtube as backing sounds. Found his most recent take on Mortal Kombat Meets Metal and fell down a bit of a rabbit hole of his music.

Coast: 7 Grain 7 Hop DDH IPA (Scotland: Low Alcohol: 0% ABV)

Visual: Very pale, hazy lemon juice colour. Thin white head.

Nose: Fresh lemon. Tart grapefruit. Light flour. Light brown bread. Light peppery. Melon.

Body: Bready. Malt drinks/ Ovaltine. Bitty orange juice. Light grapefruit. White grapes. Mild iced tea. Peppery. Traditional lemonade. Lightly wheaty.

Finish: Flour. Malt chocolate. Orange skins. Muggy bitterness. Peppery. Traditional lemonade. Lemon juice.

Conclusion: This is fairly mixed up. I hesitate to say complex, it is more that the varied flavours you encounter here aren’t ones that traditionally mesh. Though based on the name and description it sounds like they threw pretty much everything into the brew here to see what stuck, so I guess some confusion should be expected.

Early on the aroma matches the visual – light but clear grapefruit and melon. As well as that it is lightly peppery but still fairly straightforward.

When you get to sipping is when things start getting mixed up. While I do not know what the grains are used to make the beer, I have a feeling this is where they show their influence most. It is more peppery, has subtle malt drink notes, bready notes and a bit of a wheaty grip. Or at least that is the impression I get – since they are not listed I could be so way off on where these notes are coming from.

The bitterness is present in the beer, in a bit of a muggy way as nothing seems to give it the room needed for it to impact but it is still recognisably hop character and bitterness. The small orange and lemon fruit notes, and an almost traditional lemonade character come out amongst the tarter grapefruit. There is no super heavy stuff, but again it is recognisable, definitely light citrus notes that feel slightly unusual under the darker, peppery, subtle malt notes.

Still, this is full of flavour and never boring, even if it is never really coherent in the trends that its flavours follow. There are a few low abv tells here, mainly in some iced tea like notes but it is generally decent. The biggest flaw is that a lot of the flavours feel ill defined, kind of bash into each other in a muddy mess. This seems to be fairly common in IPAs I have encountered that use a lot of different hops and malts so isn’t a huge surprise here.

Still, for all its lack of focus it is tasty. In these days of great low abv beers this cannot compete with the best ones out there at the moment, but it would have been pretty impressive a few years back before the bar was raised.

Background: I had a Coast beer a year or so ago. I don’t know when exactly, time has no meaning after a year and a half of plague control. Anyway, it was ok, but didn’t grab me enough to get any more. Recently I saw Beercraft had a quite large range of their beers, so I thought I would grab one to give another try. This is that beer. They list on the can the seven hops used – Nelson Sauvin (Woo!) Sabro, Simcoe (Yay), Azzaza, Citra, Columbus and Mosaic (yay again). The ingredient list only lists barley, so no idea what they are using that side. Went back to Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes’ second album Modern Ruin after listening to their newer album last time. Still not grabbing me as much as the first or third album. It lacks the energy of the first, and the variety of the third, but appreciating it more these days as I get more of a feel for the band’s range.

Lowtide: Are Wheat There Yet? (England: low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale lager yellow coloured body. Some small bubbled carbonation. Medium sized white head.

Nose: Milky. Coriander. Crusty white bread. Light peppery bitterness. Slight sulphur. Orange skin.

Body: Peppery bitterness. Lightly milky. Wheaty feel. White bread. Mild bitty orange juice. Mild iced tea. Coriander.

Finish: Peppery bitterness. Dry. Slight sulphur. Crusty white bread. Mild orange skin. Coriander.

Conclusion: Ok, while this is most definitely recognisable as an American style wheat beer, the dry, clean mouthfeel actually reminds me of some of the more attenuated lagers. It is very crisp, very easy drinking and always has a nice peppery bitterness ready to kick out from it.

There is, just to mess with that, a contradictory milky character to this early on, and that milkiness returns in the finish – but in the centre, as the bitterness comes out to play it seems to push that out of the way. With that milkiness pushed away, the aforementioned dry character is plain to see, along with just a slight wheaty roughness that gives some grip to the whole thing.

The peppery character is matched notably by the coriander used to make the beer. Though the other uncommon ingredient (well uncommon for beers that aren’t wheat beers) used to make this – the orange skin – seems to be mainly coming across as gentle freshness rather than a heavy part of the beer. It is out of the way for the most part of the beer. Though I will say as the rest of the beer fades away in the finish, the orange definitely sticks around a tad longer to show itself alongside the returning milky character.

This is a really good low abv wheat – not as showy as most of the full abv wheat beers, but lovely and crisp – bitter with little subtle notes of interest dancing around. It doesn’t taste high abv, but neither are there most of the usual tells for a low alcohol beer. There is a small iced tea note but even that is integrated well, so it just feels in the lower end of a normal beers abv, rather than nigh alcohol free.

A bitter refresher with a bit of flavour to add. I’m getting seriously impressed with Lowtide’s output. If they can keep this up then they may be a new high bar for low abv beers. We can but see, but I hope so.

Background: After very much enjoying my last encounter with Lowtide I grabbed this as part of another batch of Lowtide beers from Beercraft. Since drinking that beer I did some googling and it looks like Lowtide use contract brewing to make their beers. Now, I have no idea where they make them, I will however point out they are spitting distance from the Electric Bear brewery, soooo, maybe? Who knows? I mean apart from Lowtide and whoever the brewer is. From the can this has oats and wheat in it, as well as coriander and orange peel. Nothing too unusual for a wheat beer, but still nice. I had recently picked up Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes’ last album, in preparation for their new one coming out soon. Very different from the super heavy style of the first album, very varied in styles but I am super enjoying it.

Lowtide: Forgot To Take My Pils (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale, clear, lightly yellowed colour. Lots of small bubbled carbonation. Large loose bubbled head.

Nose: Floral. Peppery. Clean jiff lemon on pancakes.

Body: Peppery. Clean hop oil sheen. Lemon-cakes and jiff lemon. Vanilla. Lime touch. Floral.

Finish: Peppery. Floral. Jiff lemon. Good bitterness. Mild slick hop oils. Prickly hop character.

Conclusion: Ok, this is genuinely the best low abv lager that I have had. Heck it is a bloody good lager even without that qualifier.

Spoiler warning: I like it.

The big thing that grabs me about this beer is the mouthfeel. It has a clean base with more thickness that I’d expect brought in by an oily hop sheen style. There is that thickness, but not in a way that hurts the drinkability, just makes it slide down your throat in an oilier way. It has managed to avoid that empty chalky, slightly chemically tasting style a lot of low abv lagers have been cursed by, and instead works its own smooth but present grip.

It has a heavier hop character than a lot of lagers, but still in a lager way, unlike a lot of the craft beer takes on a lager. It expresses as a peppery and slightly pricky thing, and lets the base lager still show its thing. It feels like it leans towards the more bitter end of the German pilsner style for inspiration and influence.

It gives relief from the bitterness with soft vanilla, lemon and lime notes, but generally it is just rocking the gentle hop oils and solid peppery hop bitterness top to tail. Nothing too rough, so it is still very drinkable, refreshing bitter and with no tells to the nigh absolute lack of alcohol.

This is very highly recommended.

Background: Tried a few lowtide beers before, when having some low alcohol days, but this is the first I have got around to actually doing notes on them. Been pretty good so far. This was grabbed from Beercraft, who, as ever, have an impressive low alcohol selection. Was drunk while chilling out and listening to IDLES: Joy As An Act Of Resistance. Still such a bloody good album. The can has pretty detailed ingredients, which I always like – it has oats and wheat in it, and uses Saaz, Perle and Azacca as hops, plus pilsner and caramalt for the malt.

Big Drop: Wildtrack APA (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellowed clear body. Some small bubbled carbonation. Moderate grey white head.

Nose: Bread dough and flour. Slightly bitter. Mild sulphur. Cake sponge.

Body: Bitter. Dry. Peppery. Slight charred. Light lime.

Finish: Bitter. Sulphur. Flour. Peppery. Slightly charred.

Conclusion: Ok, just some musings before I get deep into the notes here. As you may have noticed from a lot of my comments recently that I am a huge fan of West Coast IPAs. I like them as they are slightly dry, with out of the way malt, and are nicely to super bitter and hoppy. So, why is it I dislike a lot of APAs for being too dry, bitter and with no malt offset? You would think that they would be my jam. Now there is a difference between how those elements are expressed that explains why I like one and dislike the other, but it does seem odd when you write it down.

The APA will never be my go to beer in general I guess. Though individual APAs have been amazing over the years. This beer in particular isn’t going to be the one to break the trend, though I will admit I am going back and forth on is it actually ok despite that. Not good, but maybe ok.

At its best it has a cake sponge touch, good amounts of bitterness. There is nothing special but at its best it hits the beer bitterness spot for me and that does the job.

At its worst it feels charred and peppery, with a sticky flour like mouthfeel that means the bitterness grabs to your tongue for too long in an unpleasant fashion.

these two extremes are somehow both the same beer. After balancing out the two I’m going to lean towards the “It doesn’t quite work for me” side of things. It is too gritty, too dry and empty for the bitterness to feel like it has something to work with. However, I will give it that it has hints that it can do better in there.

There are other Big Drop beers that started fairly weak, but have improved over time – I presume as they tweak the recipe and brewing process. I hope they do some more work here, as there are hints of something better they could do here with a lot of work. As it is currently though it spends too much time on the unpleasant side of things for me to recommend it.

Background: You may have noticed I have done a lot of low abv beers over this whole covid thing. Trying to vaguely take care of myself to offset how unhealthy in general I am being. Though in good news there is such a wealth of low alcohol beers coming out these days I am spoiled for choice. Big drop have been pretty good in general, though less reliably so than in their early days. Guess it is the risk of trying to do a range of stuff. Another one from Independent Spirit. Had the utterly lovely SOPHIE – Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides as music to help me relax as I drink.

Kaiserdom: Pink Grapefruit (Germany: Low Alcohol: 0.0% ABV)

Visual: Deep toffee yellow brown colour, with a red to pink hue that shifts depending on how the light hits it. Large, loose bubbled white head.

Nose: Slight malt toffee. Malt chocolate. Very clear pink grapefruit.

Body: Sweet pink grapefruit. Mild strawberry. Vanilla toffee.

Finish: Chocolate cream. Pink grapefruit. White sugar. Chocolate fudge. Strawberry. Slightly chalky.

Conclusion: Ok, first up, this isn’t fancy. This isn’t complex. It is sweetened pink grapefruit for the most part, which is not exactly unexpected when it makes up 50% odd of the actual drink. Despite the amount of grapefruit it is not particularly tart for most of the beer, just slightly fresh. It isn’t very beer like for the most part either – with the beer character mainly coming through in a thicker mouthfeel than you would expect from pink grapefruit on its own. I’m guessing the beer is also part of what is responsible for offsetting the tarter notes you would expect from the grapefruit, but that is mainly a guess.

There is a soft vanilla to toffee character to this, which is, oddly, better expressed in this that their low alcohol hefe weizen. Go figure. Though admittedly that is a low bar to clear. There are some other notes that seem to come out from where the beer and fruit juice mix. The oddest element is a more malt chocolate character that, while rare, is not what you would expect. Less surprising but still unusual is a strawberry kind of note that is hinted at. Between them the two poke their way out at the high and low end of the beer.

As a simple shandy/radler/whatever the heck we call this, it relies on the pink grapefruit which meshes well to cover up the flaws of the base low alcohol beer and the beer adds a nice feel to the pink grapefruit. However, with that said, this is basically pink grapefruit juice that has been sweetened and mellowed. Thankfully I really like pink grapefruit and so this is for me.

Your entire enjoyment will come down to the simple question of – Do you like pink grapefruit? Is so, then this is that but with a different texture. If you are happy with basically that and just a little more then you will enjoy this as bright fun.

It is nothing more than that, but still better than the actual pure low alcohol beers they made.

Background: I wasn’t planning on doing notes on this, I grabbed a can of this at the same time I grabbed the other Kaiserdom low alcohol beers I did notes on, for something light to throw into the mix. Anyway, turned out I actually enjoyed it more than the actual dedicated beers, so decided to grab another to do notes on to reward it. Yes I can be strange some times. Grabbed from Independent Spirit like the others. I went with Svalbard: It’s Hard To Have Hope as backing music.

Big Drop: Coba Maya Cerveza (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Very light pale yellow body with a moderate sized white head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation evident early on.

Nose: Lemon. Wheat flakes. General wet air.

Body: Wheaty. Light bitterness. Sour dough. Slight lemon. Slight pepper.

Finish: Wet cardboard. Muggy bitterness. Soft lime. Slightly peppery. Slight chalk.

Conclusion: Well, this is, erm, a beer. I’m going with a controversial hot take here, I know. I mean, it does describe itself as a “Lawnmower beer” so I wasn’t expecting huge weight or range of flavour, but I was expecting to have something that I could describe with more words than just “Inoffensive”

Yes I know I have already used more words that that, you get the gist though.

Though since it is inoffensive, I can say that it is better than the standard Big Drop Lager, for one thing it tastes like a lager. Which is nice. There isn’t even much in the way of tells giving away that this is low abv – mainly just the lighter mouthfeel, and let’s face it, generally lagers tend not to be that heavy things anyway.

It feels slightly wheaty, slightly peppery and bitter, which gives it a touch of much needed weight, though not much – and then on the lighter end there is a soft lemon and lime to it. Nice enough, so I definitely don’t hate this. It is just, well, kind of just there. Feels like a slightly wheated lager and that is mostly it. Not rewarding, not bad, just there.

It is light, but that wheaty feel does give grip (Note I am aware that wheat is one of the few adjuncts NOT used to make this beer, I am just describing how it feels to me) . Very simple in the flavour profile, but, despite the low abv it tastes like a lager. It does the job.

Nothing really to talk about, as I say it is just there. No complaint. No compliment.

Writing about such average beers is actually harder that writing about bad beer. I have very little to say.

It is a low alcohol lager that exists.

Background: Another Big Drop lager, I’m not a fan of their standard lager, so was hoping that this could take its place. Generally I rate Big Drop, they have done a wonderful range of low alcohol beers. This is described as a “lawnmower-style lager” by Big Drop, and they advise to stick a slice of lime in it “Cerveza-style”. I did not stick a lime in it. However I will not judge you if you do, enjoy beer as you like it. I have no idea if sticking a lime in it even is “Cerveza-style”. People have been lying to me about sticking fruit in hefeweizen being traditional for years and it has left me skeptical. Anyway, another beer grabbed from Independent Spirit– they had got quite the batch of new Big Drop beers in. Went with Sabaton: Heroes as backing music, felt the need for some big metal and Sabaton always provides.

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