Beer Review: Three Zero Alcohol Beers

Optimism: The Glass Is Half Empty, But It Can Be Refilled

3 Alcohol Free Beers_headerNot content with finding a few good non-alcoholic beers I was convinced that someone else must do a good one – there’s no way I could have found a winner so fast (Erdinger). Well, I did. Yay me. I’ve found three more alternatives (and no I’m not drinking fruit juice) to proper beer. This is my last week of not drinking alcohol and I cannot wait for whiskey and real beer again.

Holsten Pils Zero Alcohol Beer

Imagine my relief when I found pubs in Nottingham with an alternative to Beck’s Blue! This seems to be the only other regular alternative. It’s not bad, and they have it in my Thursday regular The Cock And Hoop. Like most bottled pub beer it comes in a 330ml bottle, which I find a pitiful quantity. I realise that groups of men wearing identical checked shirts regard this as the natural accessory to looking like an identikit over-the-hill twat in town. However, for the rest of us who normally drink from glasses and don’t have a bandy legged swagger, this is a disappointing amount to be charged almost as much as a pint of decent ale for.

The price/volume is all I’ve got to complain about when pressing this to my lips. It tastes fine – like most of the poorer pilsners it doesn’t taste of a great deal, but it is quite refreshing. I’m happy to chug a couple in the pub. The next day though – wow. I have never had hangovers like the headaches I seem to get after this stuff. Might just be me, so I’d be interested in hearing if others get zero-alc hangovers. Kind of annoying…
Rating: Highland Cattle

Bitburger Drive Alcohol Free Beer

I’ve been asking for recommendations during this period of self-imposed torture. Remarkably most people offered Beck’s Blue (I now disregard every opinion they put forward) or Bitburger Drive. I finally tracked this one down in the Kean’s Head. Delightfully the barman provided a range of fancy glassware to make me feel better about drinking it.

I like ordinary Bitburger, it’s clean and refreshing. This ‘driving’ version is also a smooth drink, but has a bewildering dehydrating property. I swear this stuff was wicking away the moisture from my mouth even as I drank it. Incredible. If they put Bitburger Drive in sports t-shirts they would actually work. It gives me a slight dilemma, because it did taste fine (like the Holsten Pils) but I was coughing and had to get a glass of water to go with it. Very odd.
Rating: Camel

Kopparberg Alcohol Free Cider

3 Alcohol Free Beers_cleanI know what you’re thinking – that’s not beer. And you are correct. It certainly is not beer. It was the only alternative to the deathbrew Blue at a Wetherspoons and I was feeling experimental. I don’t often drink cider, not after the 12% white cider my Dad brewed when I was a teen, but I figured this would be like Appletise or something. It’s a 500ml bottle so looks sensible in a pint glass and I felt like I fitted in again. It was lovely until I tasted it.

My first impression was that Willy Wonka had produced a drink to kill small children with diabetes. So sugary that my teeth instantly hurt. It has no flavour other than sweetness. If you got a brick of Haribo sweets and threw them at your own face it might replicate the drinking sensation. That’s not fair – it’s more like Swizzels and Matlow’s Double Dipper in drink form. I drank it with a straw.

Sadly I had to abandon this one about halfway down the glass as I couldn’t taste the food I was eating and the sweetness gave me a headache. The aftertaste, reminiscent of Lemon Tango used as mouthwash, stayed with me through half a packet of gum and toothbrushing. Impressive. I don’t know what Kopparberg is usually like so I can’t speculate about how badly, or accurately they’ve converted it.
Rating: Sugar Glider

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