Best Tasting Alcohol Free Beers & Ales - January 2021

Best Tasting Alcohol Free Beers & Ales - January 2021

With a New Year comes the inevitable resolutions.  High up on some people’s list will be reducing their drinking alcohol.  Whether it’s the unique stresses of 2020 that has lead them to drink more, a desire to get healthy or raising money in Dry January, everyone has their own reason for cutting down. 

To help those beer lovers find the best tasting alcohol free beers, we’ve reviewed a selection of our favourite ales from UK brewers.  There’s something for everyone here.  From a Classic IPA to beers with unique fruity flavours or an extra hoppy kick.

Dry January should be easier than ever with these beers in your fridge.

West Berkshire Brewery Solo Peach Ale 0.5%

West Berkshire Brewery have been brewing for over 23 years.  The popularity of their beer has forced them to expand 4 times during that time.  Building on this popularity, they decided to launch their SOLO range of alcohol free beers in 2020.  I’ll be reviewing two the SOLO beers today and choose to kick off my beer tasting with their Peach Ale

West Berkshire Brewery Solo Peach Ale Alcohol Free Beer Good Stuff Drinks

It pours with a good head, but that fades fairly quickly to leave a thin layer of bubbles on top of a pale gold beer.  As you’d expect, the aroma is fruity with the peach coming through, but also some mango. 

Initially, the hop flavours come through in the beer, but then as the body of the beer arrives, so does the fruit.  The peach is unmissable, but it’s not the only fruit making an appearance.  The mango hinted at in the aroma is also there along with other stoned fruit.  All of this fruit is followed by the hops and a crisp bitterness that nicely rounds off the flavours.

With the fruit aroma, I’d expected a fuller body, but it’s actually lighter bodied beer.  Combined with the fruit flavours, it’s a surprisingly refreshing beer that I can see myself reaching for again in the future.

Big Drop Pine Trail Pale Ale 0.5%

Big Drop are one of the biggest alcohol free breweries since launching in 2016.  They’ve since grown to offer a wide range of non-alcoholic beers from which I’ve chosen their Pine Trail Pale Ale to review.

Big Drop Pine Trail Pale Ale 0.5% Alcohol Free Beer Good Stuff Drinks

It pours well with a good head on the beer that hold for a moment before settling down to a thin layer head.  Unlike the other beers tested here, this has a hazy finish to its deep gold colour.

On smelling the beer I can instantly see where they got the inspiration for the Pine Trail name.  The aroma has an almost earthy quality with a strong pine scent coming through and a floral hint.

With so much going on in the aroma, I anticipate a lot from the flavour too and the Big Drop doesn’t disappoint.  There’s an initial bitterness that comes from the hops with a citrus edge which smoothly blends into a caramel malty finish that pleasantly stays in the after tastes

All this flavour is packed into a beer with good body making it a very enjoyable drink to savour.

Drop Bear Beer Yuzu Pale Ale 0.5%

Drop Bear Beer burst onto the alcohol free beer scene in 2019 with their Tropical IPA and Yuzu Pale Ale, both promising unique flavours in the alcohol free market.  They’ve since followed that up with not one, but two more beers – the Bonfire Stout and New World Lager.

Drop Bear Beer Yuzu Pale Ale 0.5% Alcohol Free Beer Good Stuff Drinks

If like me, you’d never heard of a yuzu before trying this beer, it’s a citrus fruit thought to originate from central China (thank you Wikipedia). 

It pours with a good head that sits atop a pale gold beer.  Never having smelled a yuzu before, I’ll have to assume this is what gives the beer its citrusy aroma along with hops. There’s also a subtle sweetness to accompany the yuzu and hops 

As I drink the beer, there’s an initial sharpness as the hops deliver a floral bitterness, but the flavours quickly evolve, first delivering a refreshing citrus followed by a smooth caramel maltiness.  It’s this caramel ending that must be giving the subtle sweetness in the aroma.

It’s a slightly lighter bodied beer, but with so much flavour going on, it’s barely noticeable.  This is a beer that I enjoy regularly and sitting taking time to savour the aromas and flavours has reminded me why I keep coming back.

Nirvana Classic IPA 0.5%

Now for the first of three beers from alcohol free specialists Nirvana Brewery.  Established in 2017, they’ve grown from strength to strength with a range of six different beers ensuring there’s something for everyone’s taste buds.

Nirvana Classic IPA 0.5% Alcohol Free Beer Good Stuff Drinks

To begin with I’ll start with their Classic IPA.  Opening the bottle shows the beer to be quite lively with a quick head forming in the bottle and threatening to bubble over.  I’m only saved by having a glass to hand and quickly pouring.

With a mini disaster averted, I can appreciate its deeper gold colour and enjoy the strong aroma.  Hidden in those scents, there’s the hops you’d expect from and IPA along with a rich fruit, that combine to make me think of spiced fruits.

The initial flavour that hits me is the floral hops, but that quickly moves onto the fruity edge the aroma.  I struggled to identify the fruits from the aroma, but they come through stronger in the taste as stoned fruits like peach and mango.

It’s a lighter bodied beer which combined with the hoppy sharpness and fruits from the malts, makes it a very light, enjoyable and refreshing beer. 

Drop Bear Beer Tropical IPA 0.5%

We move from one IPA to another and this time it’s the Tropical IPA offering from Drop Bear Beer, with another of their launch beers.  Just like their Yuzu Pale Ale, they made sure the flavours in their IPA were unique, this time relying on some tropical fruits.

Drop Bear Beer Tropical IPA 0.5% Alcohol Free Beer Good Stuff Drinks

Pouring this beer into the glass delivers the largest head on any of the beers tested here which then fades reasonably quickly.  With the pale amber colour of the beer, it a looks fantastic and draws you in to enjoy it.

From the fruity aroma instantly I can instantly see why they’ve called it Tropical.  It’s very appealing and I can’t help take a moment to enjoy the stoned fruit and citrus flavours.

There’s great body to the beer and the flavours come through thick and fast.  I’m expecting fruits and I’m not disappointed.  The first flavour that hits is grapefruit in an initial sharpness and refreshment, but this quickly moves onto the stone fruit.  All this is followed by the malty body of the beer that’s rich with a dark chocolate flavour giving it a wonderful aftertaste.

It had been a while since I’d had a Tropical IPA, but I’d remembered it stuck in my mind the first time I drank it.  Drinking it today has reminded me why I enjoyed, so I’ve grabbed a few to put in the fridge. 

Nirvana Brewery Traditional Pale Ale 0.0%

Now back to alcohol free beer specialists Nirvana Brewery, this time with the Traditional Pale Ale, the first of two of their Pale Ales.  Unlike many of the others tested here, this has an abv of 0.0%, although it’s worth remembering there is a small margin in the abv for alcohol free drinks.

Nirvana Brewery Traditional Pale Ale 0.0% Alcohol Free Beer Good Stuff Drinks

This beer pours with a thin head that quickly faded.  Malt was the over powering aroma coming from the beer, although there was a hint of hops somewhere in there. 

Unsurprisingly, the maltiness was the predominant flavour coming through and carried with it an underlying caramelly smoothness. There’s a bitterness that marries the flavours together nicely making it a pleasant beer to drink.  The flavours don’t hit me like a train as they can in some beers, rather building slowly in the mouth as I enjoy the beer.  

For such a malty beer, I was surprised that was lighter bodied.   I normally associate maltiness with a fuller body.  Whilst this was different, it didn’t distract from the flavours making the drinking experience very rewarding.

West Berkshire Brewery Solo Pale Ale 0.5%

Back to West Berkshire now for a second beer from their Solo range – this time their Pale Ale.  Opening the bottles, the first thing that hits me is it’s a lively beer as it bubbles up over the lip of the bottle.  It pours with a good head and combined with the pale gold colour, it looks very appealing in the glass.

West Berkshire Brewery Solo Pale Ale 0.5% Alcohol Free Beer Good Stuff Drinks

Taking some time to appreciate the aroma, I can definitely smell the hops.  They provide an initial floral sharpness, but there’s far more going on than just hops.    There’s a fruitiness to the aroma that makes me think of tropical fruits with pineapple definitely there and something else that I can’t quite put my finger on.

After giving it a minute to see if I can identify the mystery fruit, I give up and decide to try the beer.  It’s a lighter bodied beer that delivers immediate refreshment.  In one sip, I can already see myself standing beside the BBQ in Summer cooling off with one of these.

From the aroma, I’d expected the fruitiness to lead the flavours, but it’s the floral notes of the hops I notice first that carry with them a bitterness.  These move onto the fruity flavours I was expecting from the aroma.  Again, the tropical edge it there and finally I realise the flavour I could smell was mango. This all sits upon a soft caramel base coming through from the malts.  

All these flavours combine wonderfully giving a beer with a bitterness that nicely offsets the sweetness of the fruits and caramel.

Nirvana Hoppy Pale Ale 0.5%

To finish off I’ve gone for the Nirvana Brewery’s best-selling Hoppy Pale Ale to see why it proves so popular.

Pouring the crisp straw coloured beer into the glass, I can start to enjoy the aromas and instantly tell why they’ve called it their Hoppy Pale Ale.  The Mosaic hops used give off a floral and fruity aroma, that again makes me think of tropical fruits.

Nirvana Hoppy Pale Ale 0.5% Alcohol Free Beer Good Stuff Drinks

From the strong hoppy aroma, I was surprised by the flavour experience when I took my first sip.  I expected a bitter kick from the hops up front followed by the fruitiness, but I was wrong.  Instead, the tropical fruits arrive first with the hoppy bitterness coming through strong at the end giving a dry, bitter finish and just a hint of citrus to round it off.

Whilst it initially caught me off guard, it makes for a very refreshing beer that leaves a good aftertaste and keeps me going back for more.  It’d make for a great session beer and is definitely recommended for anyone that enjoy hoppy, bitter beers.

Nutritional Information – Calories & Carbohydrates

The calories and carbohydrates of the tested beers are shown below.  For the full nutritional information of these and other alcohol free drinks, please see our Nutritional Information Table for our full range.

Drink

Energy

(cals)

Carbohydrate

(g)

Carbohydrate
of which sugars
(g)

Big Drop Brewing Co. Pale Ale

                   18.5

                     3.7

                     2.1

Drop Bear Beer Co Tropical IPA

                     6.5

                     0.5

                     0.1

Drop Bear Beer Co Yuzu Pale Ale

                     7.5

                     0.7

                     0.3

Nirvana Brewery Classic IPA

                      10

                   1.70

                   0.10

Nirvana Brewery Hoppy Pale Ale

                        9

                   1.40

                   0.10

Nirvana Brewery Traditional Pale Ale

                      15

                   3.70

                   2.20

 

The West Berkshire Brewery Solo beers do not show nutritional information on their packaging so cannot be listed here. 

Something For Everyone 

This selection of beers demonstrates how far alcohol free brewers have come.  Long gone are the days of limp, over-carbonated beers.  Now they’re packed with a variety of strong, solid flavours giving each a unique appeal and drinking experience.

With so many flavours, any ale lover will find a new favourite from this selection.  From the strong hops in the Nirvana Hoppy Pale Ale to the fruits in the WBB Solo Peach Ale or Drop Bear Tropical IPA.

Taking the time to stop and appreciate these beers has been great fun and a fantastic reminder to just how good they are. 

Can I pick my favourite?  Not quite, plus I doubt my tastes match yours anyway.  What I do know is, I’ve packed my fridge and will be working hard to choose.  

The more important question is which will be your favourite? 

Get Yours Today 

You can buy all of these beers in the Big Ale Pack or if you only want to try a few there’s the Premium Ales, Flavour Packed Ales or Pale Ales Pack

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