We've sampled LOTS of alcohol-free beer in the past year. Why? Well - you might not believe me about this - some of it's getting really good. And it's great to be able to have a lovely beer even if you don't want to be woozy afterwards.
So WE HAVE DONE THE RESEARCH and YOU can benefit from it! We've drunk beers good and bad from all over Europe. Here are six fabulous alcohol-free beers that are truly excellent and you should DRINK THEM!
1. Mariestads "Sommarlager"
(Sweden, 0.5%): a delightful lager, perfectly balanced, fizzy yet with creaminess/butteriness. I'm amazed that a lager (rather than an IPA) is in here in the top spots but there you go. It's refreshing and beery and delightful.
2. van de Streek "Playground IPA"
(Netherlands, 0.5%): This IPA is phenomenal, with the full complex and vibrant flavour you want from a modern IPA. I don't know how they did it. Out of all the low-alc IPAs, this one is the one that can compete with normal ones.
3. Värmdö "Ingarö Eko IPA"
(Sweden, 0.5%): delightful unsweet, slightly sour almost kombucha-y, yet juicy and no bad notes. I liked this one for being a little bit different.
4. Big Drop "Pale Ale"
(UK, 0.5%): Another IPA that passes the test. I've no notes on this one, and only a fuzzy paparazzi photo (must have been a good night huh?) so you'll just have to try it.
5. Mikeller "Drink'in the sun"
(Denmark/Belgium, 0.3%): A good IPA (allegedly a wheat pale) with summery juicy grapefruit.
6. Clausthaler "Original 0.5%" (Germany, 0.5%): this is in the classic German style, and was the first time I drank an alcohol-free beer and felt refreshed, without that curious slightly-wrong flavour that's in the mainstream alcohol-free beers. Since I first tried it, I discovered the other ones, but this one is still great, and notable for getting the balance of flavours just right to make a quality German beer despite the constraint.
Others which are ALSO recommended:
- Mariestads "Alkoholfri" (Sweden, 0.5%): good reliable beer.
- Sigtuna "NAPA" (Sweden, 0.5%): good IPA with a hint of Nanny State.
- Adnams "Ghost Ship" alcohol-free IPA (UK, 0.5%): pretty convincing! A little bit drying imho.
- Brewdog "Nanny State" (UK, 0.5%): Brewdog's well-known low-alc, with a very nice complex flavour, a malty pale ale.
- Sainsburys "Low alcohol Czech lager" (Czechia, 0.5%): Surprisingly not bad for a supermarket lager. Pilsner-style.
Plus there are plenty I don't recommend, of course :) but I won't bore you with them. Some more of my tasting notes are in this twitter thread.
While writing this, I found a nice list of top 70 low-alcohol beers from "Steady Drinker". However... it looks like he hasn't been to Sweden! He hasn't reviewed Mariestads, Värmdö or Sigtuna, which is why he's missed some of my top ones. In Sweden they have quite hefty taxes on alcohol, which may be why it's become a great place for innovative low-alcohol beers.