Beer without alcohol – no, really.
So here it is: I’m off the sauce for 30 days. This is the kind of thing that might pose problems for a beer blogger, but it is what it is. I’m going to the Copenhagen Beer Celebration on May 11-12, and attending the warm-up beer ticker wet dream event Sour & Bitter on the 10th, and I just know that there are going to be MANY beers I want to sample. So I decided to detox but good for a month before what already promises to be the big beer event of the year. I also joined the gym (and I’m going, too – three or four times a week). I’m basically a walking turn-your-life-around cliché. But don’t worry, it’s only for a month. I’ll be back to my beer-swilling, sedentary ways in no time, you’ll see.
This preamble is to explain my newfound interest in non-alcoholic beer. Most non-alcoholic beers I’ve had coming from the big brands (Becks Blue and the like) have been universally awful and I’ve often found myself missing the Swedish tradition of lättöl (literally light beer, which are very-low-ABV beers that can often be surprisingly flavourful). So when I made my most recent trip to Utobeer to pick up some bottles of Hardknott‘s limited release Æther Blæc 2011 (hey, I said I wouldn’t drink, that doesn’t mean I can’t buy beer) I asked them what kind of non-alcoholic brews they had to offer. I came away with one bottle of Erdinger Alkoholfrei (which came highly recommended) and one bottle of Schneider Mein Alkoholfreies (Tap 3) (which was also recommended but not as highly) – in other words, two non-alcoholic wheat beers. So brace yourselves, folks, for London Beer Blog’s first non-alcoholic beer review!
Look: A clear pale golden beer with a big ‘ol foamy head (as you can see). The head eventually subsides but a smaller, nice white crown stays, Pilsner-style, for the duration.
Nose: Faint but somehow clear; a whiff of citrus, a whiff of yeast. The ester notes (banana, flowers, fruit) normally typical of German wheat beers are not present.
Taste: Citrus and faint fruit, with a surprisingly (and pleasantly) solid malt backbone offering those characteristic bread sweet bread/dough/batter flavours. The body, as you might expect, is very light and thin. Spritzy and refreshing but not overly carbonated.
Verdict: This stands up well to its alcoholic cousins and I would pick this over most name brand lagers any day. On the other hand, that’s not saying much, considering that I would pick ice water with lemon in it over most name brand lagers any day. It is more accurate to say that a) this is one of the best non-alcoholic beers I can remember tasting, and b) I will definitely have this again, and I am sure I will at some point pick this over a “normal” beer. 3/5.
Look: Dark amber and faintly cloudy with a big cream-coloured head. The head subsides pretty fast.
Nose: Very faint. Yeast and some generic cookie dough sweetness.
Taste: Again, you get a bit of citrus first, but it’s quite weak. Then a caramel/cookie sweetness comes through, giving a bit of body, but otherwise it’s pretty uneventful.
Verdict: Quite pleasant in its own way but suffers in comparison to the Erdinger which carries a much more distinct flavour package. Still a very good non-alcoholic beer, but I would describe it as a good alternative to lemonade or ice water on a hot day, rather than as a good alternative to regular beer. It’s good in its genre but I don’t think I would reach for this on its own merits in the way I’m sure I will reach for the Erdinger. 2/5.
That’s it for now, but my non-alcoholic beer adventures will continue. I also have a Drinking Den of the Week post I’ve been saving up, as well as some other stuff, so London Beer Blog won’t be going through a dry spell even though I am. Normal service will resume on May 10-12 when I will be live blogging from Sour & Bitter and Copenhagen Beer Celebration.
Posted on April 16, 2012, in Feature, Review and tagged Æther Blæc 2011, Becks Blue, Erdinger, Erdinger Alkoholfrei, Hardknott, Schneider, Tap 3 Mein Alkoholfreies. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.