I consider myself a fairly serious beer drinker. Which is to say that I like flavour, nuance, style, and structure in my beer. That I will go out of my way to seek out new and interesting beers.
I can appreciate a brewer’s attempt at a particular style, even if the style itself isn’t necessarily my bag. I’ve drunk everything from mass produced lagers to beer made in a bucket, but they’ve all had one thing in common. They contain alcohol. Admittedly, some more than others. A mid-strength beer is the biggest selling beer in Australia, and “session ales” have been a growing segment of the craft beer market, traditionally dominated by high alcohol, full flavoured, hop bombs. But with the exception of that one time as a young man when I mistook the non-alcoholic Coopers on the shelf at Woollies for the real stuff, drinking non-alcoholic beer never occurred to me.
Then some innovative small breweries started dipping a toe in the alcohol free waters (to qualify as “alcohol free” a beer needs to be less than 0.5% ABV) and my skepticism was challenged. These clever sods had made their beer taste like…well, beer. Which, given the additional work required to make it (there are a few different methods), and the inability to rely on big malt, big hops and big alcohol to cover a brewers missteps, this is no small achievement. Low and behold, I get it.
Designated driver at a party and don’t want to have to do the maths to count every beer… grab some alcohol free. Planning on cracking a few big craft beers on the couch but want to be able to stand at the end of it… throw in a couple of alcohol free. Concerned that your beer consumption might be a little excessive but not sure how to tackle it…you get the drift. It’s the fastest growing segment of beer in Australia, which, starting from virtually close to zero is not necessarily that impressive, but the fact is the beers are. And you can now safely grab an alcohol free beer without resigning yourself to the fact that it’s going to taste like dishwater. Try these tasty non-alcoholic beverages to whet your whistle and keep you walking in a straight line.
Heaps Normal XPA – A light, fruity, very drinkable beer from a brewery that makes this beer and this beer only. Perfect for a mid-mow rehydration on a hot day, and my pick of the alcohol-frees.
UpFlow – A brewery dedicated to the low-alcohol movement, they have lagers, IPAs and even a stout. The lager is the pick.
Sobah – Brewed using Australian botanicals to give flavour and nuance, these are tasty, but beer-adjacent at best.
Nort – A recent addition from the folks at Modus Operendi who are pushing the boundaries of clever names for alcohol free beer. The beer is ok too.
Dainton New Age IPA – Not technically in the category, at 0.9% ABV, but has to rate a mention as this beer is a marvel. Full bodied, hoppy and delicious, a six-pack over a couple of hours at a barbecue will still have you okay to drive home, and chances are you’ll be drinking a better beer than most of your mates. Good luck getting your hands on any, though, as it seems to sell out as quickly as they can make it.