March 4, 2024

Dry January: You’ll barely tell the difference with these alcohol-free alternatives

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John Wilson: Many craft brewers make excellent low- and no-alcohol beers

Alcohol free is a great alternative to real beer. I suspect some drinkers would be hard pushed to tell the difference between the two. The year 2021 saw the launch of Guinness 0.0, the alcohol-free version of this national favourite. I tried it alongside a group of seasoned stout drinkers in a pub, and we all gave it the thumbs up.

It really does taste very like real Guinness, with a nice creamy head, tasty toasted malts and a light bitter kick on the finish. It will certainly provide competition for the various other big brands such as Heineken, Carlsberg, Peroni, Becks and Erdinger, all of whom make decent, refreshing alcohol-free versions of the real thing.

You should not confine yourself to mainstream beers, however. Many of the craft brewers make excellent low- and no-alcohol beers. Stephen Dillon of RTM has just launched Quiet Noise, Ireland’s first full range of alcohol-free beers. This month sees the release of the first three, a pilsner, a lager and a hoppy IPA.

Among the Irish craft brewers, Kinnegar Low Tide, Wicklow Wolf Moonlight Hoppy Ale and Dungarvan Main Sail are all excellent. Of the non-Irish craft beers, the Øl Implosion is worth trying as are BrewDog AF and Nanny State.

Alcohol-free cider is not simply apple juice, but cider that has had the alcohol removed. The two taste very different (although I am partial to a good apple juice). The Stonewell non-alcoholic cider is well worth trying as is the excellent High Bank Organic Drivers Cider, which has no added sugar or sulphur.

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