• Neil

Top 5 Favourite Non-Alcoholic Beers

I gave up alcohol just over 2 years ago now. What started out as an experiment to see how I'd fare foregoing the Friday/Saturday night booze for a month, turned into a lifestyle choice that I now stick to.

I'm up and out earlier at weekends now (those of you that have come walking with me will know) and I feel better physically and mentally for it. Let's face it, we've all had the booze blues on a Sunday morning and vowed 'never again'. I'm not a preachy non-drinker though, and would never sit and argue the merits of going teetotal, as we all have our different ways to let off steam.

What I have noticed though, is that for 2019, most high street pubs and bars have a lot to learn about non-alcoholic offerings. I've lost count of the places I've been in that have either a very short supply, or have to dig out some warm bottles from the back as if asking for a 0% beer is still an alien concept. There are loads out there but, there still seems to be a rinse and repeat approach by bars of stocking the same tired brands (see dishonourable mentions at the end) and you only see the good stuff in smaller independent bars (which should be supported anyway as they're much better than the plethora of Greene King et al establishments). In a society where there's a big focus on designated drivers and not drinking and driving, you'd think bars and pubs would do more, alas it doesn't seem to be the case.

There's nothing I like better after a big walk or hike than putting my feet up with a beery drink knowing its not got the alcohol and subsequent hangover or dehydration that comes with it. If you're in the same boat as me, then here are my current top 5 favourite non-alcoholic beers.

1. Bavaria 0%

Kicking it off with a budget choice stocked in most supermarkets up and down the country (and very very occasionally in bars).

Its cheap (£3.50 for 8!) and very very light in taste. Think Coors Light but without the alcohol content. I usually keep a stock of these in the fridge for when the other harder to come by brands are thin on the ground.

(Not vegan or vegetarian alas)

2. Cobra Zero

For quite a mainstream brand, this stuff isn't half bad. It is amazingly refreshing and you wouldn't think you were drinking a non-alcoholic version of its boozy brother.

Absolutely 100% goes well with a curry (I've confirmed this several times for research purposes!) and is both Vegetarian Society approved and Kosher.

Roughly about a quid a bottle in packs of 4 or 12 from most supermarkets.

3. St. Peter's Without (Original & Gold)

It's a treat when you find this out in the wild in a pub or bar. A reasonable £1.30 a bottle in supermarkets, this packs more of a flavour punch with it being quite sweet yet personally I feel heavier than your standard non-alcoholic fayre.

Both the Gold and Original are great and I'd like to see this being a go to brand for mainstream places given its cheap to buy yet far superior to the generic fodder that gets served in most places.

(Not vegan or vegetarian)

4. Pistonhead Flat Tire

Slight percentage to this one being 0.5% but nothing that risks giving you a raging hangover or slurring your words after 2 or 3! Vegan? Then Pistonhead have you covered. This is totally suitable for vegans as it doesn't use isinglass or fish extract like many non-alcoholics do.

Amazing lager taste, and easy to come by if you're a Tesco shopper (although should totally be more widely available!).

5. Vandestreek Playground IPA

This is the boss, and the only IPA on the list as I'm not usually an IPA fan. This stuff though is absolutely top drawer.

Again, it is 0.5% and for a non-alcoholic drink this is a lot higher in calorie count than most, but the taste is totally worth it.

Discovered this quite by accident in an independent bar in North Wales, its quite hard to come by at the moment, but if you can see it on any sites that stock it I suggest you snap some up. I'd reserve this one for special occasions as it has a taste worth savouring.

Currently my favourite and you wouldn't think you were drinking something very low alcohol.

Dishonourable Mentions These are terrible. It is a sad state of affairs going into a bar and being told they only stock either: Becks Blue or Heineken 0.0%

To the point where now if they do, I'll get a soft drink. Becks Blue tastes like chemicals and has absolutely no redeeming qualities and is a lazy option when it comes to stocking non-alcoholic beer. The Heineken 0.0% is great if you like dehydrating yourself. I've had headaches the next day off this stuff that made me think I might as well have a real hangover! Finally: Erdinger Alkoholfrei - Whilst not terrible in taste, it is so gassy that any more than two can make for an uncomfortable experience. This was recently dropped by the Brexiteer owner of Wetherspoons from his chain in favour of Sam Adams Ghost Ship (that famous British brand!) which has a similar effect.

Honourable Mentions

To end on a high, take a look at these also as alternatives to the five I've chosen. These tick the box, but didn't quite get the edge on those I've favoured: Birra Moretti Zero

Warsteiner 0%

Peroni Liberata

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