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Brewing Without Booze: No and Low-Alcohol Beers

While the concept of non-alcoholic or low-alcohol beer might seem like a misnomer, NABLABs (as they are known in the industry) provide a way for those who want to enjoy the taste of beer to do so without the inebriating effects.

Low-alcohol beers (typically under 3.5% ABV), often referred to as session ales or table beers, are perfect for busy parents with little ones or anyone looking to limit their alcohol intake. Expecting mothers may well enjoy non-alcoholic beer as an alternative to endless soft drinks.

What’s more, demand is on the rise across Europe. Beers under 3% ABV now representing around 6% of the overall European beer market, according to the Brewers of Europe.

Here we showcase a few of the best UK breweries producing no and low-alcohol beers and ciders.

Under 0.5% ABV

Two brands leading the way are Nirvana Brewery and Big Drop Brewing Co.

Nirvana is the first brewery in the UK to focus exclusively on alcohol-free brewing. They use traditional methods without compromising on quality or taste. Appealing to craft beer aficionados, Nirvana produces familiar styles such as a chocolatey Kosmic stout and Tantra, a traditional pale ale balanced with a caramel malt and a crisp hop bitterness.

Big Drop Brewing has also recently opened its doors with a stable of low-alcohol beers. On offer are a Chocolate Milk Stout and a Citrus Pale Ale, with a lager and a spiced ale coming soon, all which are less than 0.5% ABV.

 

For a low-alcohol beer that’s tried and tested, pick up BrewDog’s cheekily named Nanny State. An IPA made with five different types of hops and eight types of specialty malts. It delivers a big citrusy body without the high alcohol content.

For the traditionalists, there’s West Beer’s Nix Zero % Premium Wheat Beer and Premium Lager. The Glasgow-based company claims to be the only UK brewery adhering to the German Purity Laws of 1516. This means that only four basic ingredients – water, malt, hops, and yeast – are used in the brewing process. The “Nix”, Bavarian for “nichts”, here of course refers to the fact that the beer contains absolutely no alcohol.

Under 3.5% ABV

For those wanting a bit more bite to their table beer, there are plenty of craft breweries with offerings in the 0.5-3.5% ABV range. Hawkshead Brewery’s session strength Lakeland range includes a variety of best-selling ales from 3.5-5.0% ABV. Limited editions like Hawkshead’s Solar Sour, Chuckleberry Sour, and the Blackjack Brewery collaboration Cherry Weisse add a little variety to the mix.

Family-owned Hillside Brewery produces high-quality, small batch ales like their Over The Hill dark mild and their spicy Countryman table beer.

Black Isle Brewery produces organic beers from barley grown on its own organic farm in the Scottish Highlands. Like many sustainably-minded brewers, they abhor waste, and feed their farm’s livestock with the spent grain from its brewery mash. Which means you can feel good kicking back with their refreshing Goldfinch session IPA, which is also gluten free.

Ciders

If cider is more to your taste, you’ll be happy to hear that several low-alcohol varieties are on-hand at your local grocery store. Morrisons and Sainsbury’s both produce their own low-alcohol ciders at just 1% ABV.

Meanwhile, Waitrose’s own label cider was crowned the low-alcohol trophy and gold medal winner at the 2016 International Cider Challenge.

Popular Westons Cider makes a reduced alcohol version of their Stowford Press brand. It’s made from 100% British apples, with no artificial flavouring or sweeteners. Unlike many beers, it’s a safe bet for vegetarians, vegans, and coeliacs.

The Lowdown

No and low-alcohol beers provide a great alternative for young and expecting families looking to enjoy a cold one sans alcohol.

You can find most of these and many other great alcohol-free options at Dry Drinker, the UK’s largest online selection of low and no-alcohol beer and cider. Another great teetotalers’ resource is Club Soda, which offers advice and support for “mindful drinking”. They also produce a guide to the best bars and pubs for no and low-alcohol options in London and across the UK.

For a full rundown on all the brands mentioned in this article and where to find them, check out our chart below.

 

Brewer Variety % ABV Stockists
Big Drop Brewing Company Chocolate Milk Stout
Citrus Pale Ale
0.5%
0.5%
List of stockists
Buy online
Black Isle Brewery Goldfinch 3.5% Sainsbury’s
Waitrose
Buy online
BrewDog Nanny State 0.5% Morrisons
Sainsbury’s
Tesco
Waitrose
Hawkshead Brewery Solar Sour
Chuckleberry
Sour Cherry Weisse
3.5%
3.5%
3.5%
Selected pubs, bars and bottle shops across the UK
Buy online
Hillside Brewery Over the Hill
Countryman
3.5%
2.7%
Buy online
Morrisons Morrisons Low Alcohol Cider 1.0% Morrisons
Nirvana Brewery Kosmic
Tantra
0.0%
0.0%
Borough Wines
Eat17
We Bought Beer
Buy online and at drydrinker
Sainsbury’s Sainsbury’s Low Alcohol Cider 0.9% Sainsbury’s
Waitrose Waitrose Low Alcohol Cider 1.0% Waitrose
West Beer Nix Zero Premium Lager
Nix Zero Premium Wheat Beer
0.0%
0.0%
Buy online and at drydrinker
Westons Cider Stowford Press 0.5% 0.5% Tesco
Buy online

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