We taste tested non-alcoholic and low-alcohol beer, from lager and pale ale to deep, rich stout. Discover our top buys and find your new favourite booze alternative.
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As a country, we are drinking less often, so now seems like a perfect time to look at alcohol-free alternatives to beer. Some of these products really impressed me. Low-alcohol beers can be made in two ways: some are brewed using special yeasts and low-sugar malt to produce very little alcohol, whereas others have the alcohol removed. Alcohol doesn’t just affect you physically, it also acts as a vehicle for flavour and provides texture. To compensate for the lack of mouthfeel in alcohol-free drinks, brewers can add sweetness – some of the big brand 0% lagers tasted of popcorn – or turn up the hops. The latter can work to an extent, but bitter hops without the warmth of alcohol can quickly get too much. Read our review of the best non-alcoholic wines and spirit alternatives for more booze-free inspiration.
This was a real surprise – it's fresh and clean, with no sweetness or strange flavours and tastes very much like the alcoholic version. It contains about 1g sugar per 100ml, which is less than some full-strength lagers. It's the best of the big brands and I’d buy again.
Gadds’ No.11 (1.2%)
I'm cheating a bit here with this 1.2% ABV beer from Ramsgate Brewery. This is a pale ale with lots of zingy citrus hops flavour, but not too much. Thanks to that tiny amount of alcohol, you do have some body. My favourite beer in the test.
Best non-alcoholic and low-alcohol wine
Adnams Ghost Ship 0.5%
This has a great malt character on the nose, something like digestive biscuits, then is citrussy and grassy on the palate. It actually tastes like an Adnams pale ale. I gave this to a friend, who didn’t realise it was alcohol-free.
Erdinger alkoholfrei 0.5%
This has that characteristic banana smell that you get in a wheat beer. It’s certainly sweet but carries the sugar really well, especially when served over ice with a slice of lemon. Erdinger is widely available, so it’s a good friend if you’re driving to the pub.
Big Drop Stout 0.5%
Lots of stout character on the nose, with notes of malt, dark chocolate and coffee, and nice and bitter on the palate with just enough sweetness to balance. This brewery is a master of low-alcohol beer, and its pale ale is also very good (for a low-alcohol beer).
Non-alcoholic drinks inspiration
This review was last updated in January 2019. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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