According to latest statistics from the Office of National Statistics, 20.9% of adults say they do not drink alcohol at all, while young people aged between 16 and 24 in Britain are less likely to drink than any other age group. As a result, interest in lower strength and alcohol-free beers is on the rise.
Speaking at The Morning Advertiser's Beer Summit last week, Chris Hannaway, co-founder of Infinite Session said that venues needed to work harder and stock a range of low and no-alcohol products to tap into customer desire for new products and experiences.
“One alcohol-free beer per outlet is not good enough,” he said. “In this day and age, when people want to experience and taste different things, you need to build a range that reflects your establishment."
These beers are (almost) all 0.5% ABV and under, meaning that they contain as much alcohol as a banana. They’re safe to drink and drive afterwards, and they’re not going to break your Dry Janaury/Sober October/Mindful March pledge.
Thornbridge Big Easy
Derbyshire brewery Thornbridge released its 0.5% ABV pale ale Big Easy last month amid some fanfare from the craft beer community. Big Easy is an easy-going pale ale hopped with Amarillo and Cascade. What it lacks in alcohol, it more than makes up for in tropical fruit aroma and intense flavour.
Big Drop Milk Stout
Big Drop’s first brew, and still probably its best, is its award-winning Milk Stout. The beer is brewed with milk proteins which help to add body and mouthfeel, ensuring that a lack of alcohol does not correlate with a lack of flavour. With notes of coffee, cocoa nibs and a lingering hint of sweet vanilla, its perfect for dark beer lovers looking to moderate their alcohol consumption.
Adnams Ghost Ship Alcohol-Free
A 0.5% ABV take on a modern classic, Adnams Ghost Ship Alcohol-Free is as close to the real thing as you’re likely to get as far as low-alcohol beers go. Brewed with pale ale, rye crystal and cara malts, and using Citra and other American hop varieties, it is a faithful and enjoyable recreation of one of our favourite bottled beers.
BrewDog Nanny State
BrewDog has been making a low-alcohol beer since 2009, and Nanny State is still one of the best, and most widely available, versions on the marketplace. The Scottish brewery uses eight different malts, six different hops, and the beer has a final bitterness of 45 IBUs, so it’s no surprise that it remains a favourite among those who chose to avoid alcohol.
Infinite Session Pale
Not only is Infinite Session one of the best low-alcohol beers, it’s also made by two brothers who are passionate about growing the category. Chris and Tom Hannaway have been vocal in their criticism of legislation surrounding the labelling of low/no-alcohol beers, and their pale ale – brewed at Sambrook's Brewery – is a great addition to the scene. Look out for the brewery’s soon-to-be released Pils and IPA variants.
Big Drop Sour
Big Drop makes the list twice because of its consistent commitment to innovation within the low-alcohol sector. A delicate and refreshing sour in the Berlinner Weisse style, Big Drop sour is the fifth beer in the brewery’s range of 0.5% ABV beers, and was developed in response to growing consumer demand for sour beers.
Technically still a low-alcohol beer – but not 0.5% ABV or under – Gadds No.11 is so good we had to make an exception for it. Coming it at a very sensible 1.2% ABV and containing just 0.4 units of alcohol, the beer is described as an ‘Anytime Pale Ale’. Heavily hopped and naturally hazy, we’re not necessarily recommending drinking it for breakfast, but it would go nicely with a fry-up…