At the end of last year I went alcohol free to help with my marathon training, resulting in me searching for the best non-alcoholic beers on the market right now.
I wanted something for beyond Dry January. I needed to find drinks that would sustain my love for beer while not gaining the pounds during training, or more notably being able to run in the morning feeling fresh.
I lived in Prague back in 2008 and the Czechs knew how to do a good non-alcoholic beer. All the breweries did an AF version in their lineup and they were really good. This was all the while back in the UK we only had Kaliber and Becks Blue which were pretty much just water. Fast forward to 2023 and it's as if there's a movement of non-alcoholic beverages let alone beer.
A discovery I made after buying a bunch of 0% / AF beers was the difference in taste. I also tried some draft AF beer by breweries I liked during Dry January, but that brought disappointment. I couldn't help feel that a lot of the beers didn't taste great, with some verging on chemical flavouring. However, after a chat with a friend who's really into their beer, they say that completely 0% beers have the alcohol chemically removed, hence the chemical flavours, and recommended I keep an eye out for beers that had small traces of ABV such as 0.5%. Since the revelation I kept and eye on that, while looking back at the beer crates I had purchased to see which were 0% and which were 0.5%.
This is of course a personal preference, but I'm now steering clear of the complete 0%ers. However, finishing off the beers I had (as I didn't want to waste them) it's worth noting that when nice and cold they're actually fairly enjoyable. A little warmer than then, or room temperature, don't even go there. If you want a AF beer in the summer then make sure it's freezing, and will stay cold. On the plus side, you'll be able to drink it quickly without any affect.
Quickly becoming a feature in most pubs, Lucky Saint offer a crisp 0.5% unfiltered lager. It took me a little while to like them, but after getting a box of bottles to have at home I was soon won over by them.
Try Lucky Saint yourself with £10 using the code CHRIS532 at www.luckysaint.co
Days Brewing Co.
I got the Days Brewing Cans Mixed Pack as I wanted to try out both the Lager and Pale Ale. I immediately preferred the Pale Ale as is had more flavour than the Lager, but it was good to have both options. Brewed in Scotland. Drink proper chilled.
Infinite Session have been going for five years, offering a nice selection of classic beers and ales, including a hazy pale ale. I got their Best Verity Box so I could sample a range of beers and ended up liking the American Pale Ale the most. The Best Bitter was impressive – better than some regular casks Bitters that are on the market. I'm keen to try the Super Crisp IPA and Infinite Haze next.
Introduced to me by mate Josh (mentioned earlier) who's into his beer far more than I am. I tried Mash Gang at Craft Beer Co. and was majorly impressed with it. Was back at the same pub the following day with another group of friends and recommended to someone who was, like me, wanting to stick to AF. We had Stoop and Chug Gold on that occasion. Mash Gang do some great 'phantom' brewing, using established breweries' kit to brew their recipes.
I've just set up a monthly subscription and looking forward to sampling all their beers.
I had a couple of Brulo beers when the cans weren't completely cold and it didn't taste great. However, once properly chilled they were a lot better. Giving themselves a tag line of 'beers for modern world' and host an array of familiar craft beers from DDH IPAs, NEIPAs and 5 Fruit Gose. They also have some pretty stylish graphic design which I really like.
Big Drop Brewing Co.
Born out of lifestyle changes of it's founders, wanting to produce alcohol-free beers back in 2016, Big Drop perfected brewing techniques to make alcohol-free craft beer without the need for artificial removal of alcohol.
Reduced Alcohol Beers
It's worth mentioning some beers that still have alcohol in them but not strong as your regular ones. In places like Sweden, the 2.5% beers are called the 'peoples beer' which you can but at supermarkets rather than the state controlled bottle shops. But if you want a bit more flavour and a couple more percent then have a look for The Original Small Beer and Wiper and True's 2.7% Small Beer.