low-alcohol beers

In my glass: Low alcohol beer and a scientific experiment

AS I write I have five glasses of low alcohol beer next to me and a packet of salted crisps. This is one of my scientific experiments which would not bear the scrutiny of a Nobel judging panel.
I can’t /won’t give up alcohol for the month; the least I can do is try and reduce my alcohol levels. I sent my beloved on a shopping trip while I did the ironing (that last bit is as rare as hen’s teeth; as rare as me drinking low alcohol beer out of choice).
The result? Five samples of beer – all 2.8% abv or under, cholow-alcohol beerssen randomly from nearby stores: Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, the Co-op and Asda. (Some beers are sold in several stores; I quote the price we paid and equivalent by litre.)
Aldi: Brasserie Biere Blonde Lager, £1.99 a pack for eight 250ml “stubbie” bottles (2.6% abv, 99p per litre)
Asda: Labatt Blue, £2.50 for four 440ml cans; (2.8% abv, £1.42 per litre)
Lidl: Nobelaner Pilsner £2.49 for 10 250ml bottles, (2.6% abv, £1 per litre)
Tesco: Becks Premier Light, £4 for six 355ml bottles (2.3% abv, £1.88 per litre)
The Co-op: Carlsberg Citrus £2 for four 275ml bottles (2.8% abv, £1.80 per litre)

APPEARANCE
I glugged a good burst of all the beers into glasses. Aldi’s Blonde still had a thin foam 15 minutes later, which reinvigorated with a swish. Becks Light was the quickest to lose its hold on a thin white hat and the swirl test had as much impact as Agadoo on the classical music charts. Following the Blonde in staying power was the Nobelaner, then the Labatts and the Carlsberg Citrus.
THE TASTE TEST
Brasserie Biere Blonde: Light golden colour, sweet malt on the nose, and to taste, slightly thin but a malt character. In-the-mouth fizz faded quickly. Despite winning the froth test, we say for “blonde” you should read “bland”.
Labatt Blue: My better half thought it had a “wonderful” aroma with a slight sweetness to taste and a hint of bitterness. It reminded me of a wet tin can. With ready salted crisps… well, everything improves with crisps don’t you think?
Nobelaner Pilsner: He says: Clean malt in taste, with fresh malt and a light bitter finish. I say: I could actually drink quite a lot of this. With a good chill, the bitter finish is fairly long-lasting and refreshing, none of the ‘wet metal’ of the Labatt.
Becks: He says: The Becks delivers a decent taste, not quite like drinking a proper pint though. The first sip is very crisp and the beer has a distinct bite to it compared to the Blonde which feels like drinking water. As you drink the beer it is refreshing and you soon forget it is low alcohol. I say: I agree. The best of the bunch. Perfect with a handful of ready beckssalted.
Carlsberg Citrus: I say: imagine weak lager shandy with a sliced lime in it. Sweet and lemonadey (even though it is lime. It’s a citrus thing.) Of all the drinks, it was the one which kept the in-the-mouth fizz the longest. He said he wouldn’t even consider tasting it.

OUR RATINGS

He says: 1) Becks 2) Labatts 3) Nobelaner 4) Blonde 5 ) Carlsberg.
I say: 1) Becks 2) Nobelaner 3) Blonde 4) Carlsberg 5) Labatts.
These drinks were more palatable than I expected (when chilled). But that’s what two weeks of over-indulgence does.

This column first appeared in the saturday magazine January 11 2014
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