Dry Drinker: The Best Tasting Low ABV & Alcohol-Free Beers
Designated drivers, morning after beer fear-ers and teetotal champions of the world unite, we’re embarking on the period that – in the future – people will refer to as post-Becks Blue. Now, that’s not to denigrate Becks and their standard-issue alcohol-free lager, but as someone who has experienced many sober pub trips and a few “best behaviour” garden parties, it’s genuinely exciting to see alternatives on the horizon. After all, there really is only so much cranberry juice, Coke and Becks Blue one person can drink. So swerve the soda lime and opt for something from the list below.
Heineken 0.0 (0% ABV)
Arguably the heir to Becks Blue, this 0.05% lager is the one you’ll most likely find when heading out to the pub and/or supermarket. Similar in taste and smell to the real thing, Heineken 0.0 is a refreshing lager with a crisp taste. Hardcore Heineken enthusiasts will no doubt tell the difference (usually pointing out a slightly sweeter taste), but as far as commercial alcohol-free lagers go, this is a great hot summer’s day thirst quencher.
Brewdog Nanny State Pale Ale (0.5% ABV)
Of course, not-so-craft-brewery-anymore Brewdog have made an alcohol-free pale ale. And whether you love or hate the brand, it’s actually very drinkable. Sweet notes, darker than your standard pale ale and with a crisp bitter finish, the good news is you’re much more likely to find it in a bar than some of the others on this list.
Infinite Session American Pale (0.5% ABV)
Does exactly what it says on the tin, this one. Drink them all day and you won’t get remotely drunk. For a while the aptly-named Infinite Session only made one beer, the American Pale, and it’s not difficult to see why – with awards and plaudits rewarding their focus. Malty, dark and with hints of tropical fruit, Infinite Session American Pale is a personal favourite. A Pilsner and IPA have since followed, as has a pretty good roll-out across supermarkets including M&S, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Wholefoods.
Big Drop Galactic Milk Stout (0.5% ABV)
Look how far we’ve come; we’re dealing in alcohol-free stout now. We know what you’re thinking: is it really watery though? No. Is it like those hip Nitro cold-brew coffees? Not really. Truth be told it’s actually pretty good. It smells great – malty with those cocoa and coffee hints – and it’s tasty too, filling a similar role to your classic dessert beer.
Vandestreek Playground IPA (0.5% ABV)
Another low-percentage offering worthy of the hype. Founded in 2010 in Utrecht, Netherlands before expanding with the help of some crowdfunding, Vandestreek are a brewery to keep an eye on. Using brewing methods that simply produce less alcohol, rather than removing the alcohol at the end, which usually flattens the taste, Vandestreek’s Playground IPA is a cloudy and delicious treat that’s less intensely fruity than its contemporaries.
Lucky Saint Unfiltered Lager (0.5% ABV)
The bottle alone is one for the design heads out there (stockier and more robust than your usual 330ml) and funnily enough, the beer follows suit. Brewed in Germany and with a backstory that’s basically a pursuit of perfection culminating in an “if you want the good stuff, you’ve got to pay for it” style lesson, Lucky Saint’s Unfiltered Lager should be considered your sensible lager upgrade. Buy loads for a special occasion but beware: everyone will inevitably think it’s delicious and ask for a bottle.
Thornbridge Big Easy Pale Ale (0.5% ABV)
Thornbridge brewery in Derbyshire is known as one of the original craft breweries in England and thus to see them putting out a low-ABV beer is an interesting move. With a similar dark ruby colour to other alcohol-free pale ales on this list, Big Easy is a thinner, more carbonated option with distinct malt flavours that for some will be an acquired taste. Worth trying, although more likely to find it in a craft establishment than a supermarket.
Mikkeller Henry And His Science Pale Ale (0.3% ABV)
A cracking option from the brewing and running club enthusiasts. There’s a lot to be said about unique yeast used here, specifically Mikkeller having created their own strain, but we’re not going to be the ones to explain it. All you need to know is whatever they’ve done to make this beer taste delicious whilst not getting you turbo tipsy has worked. It’s bitter, with a texture akin to something on cask. It’s also a slog and expense to get hold of a few bottles, but we’d recommend doing so nonetheless.