Alcohol free beer. The very name seems a complete contradiction: surely the point of a beer is that it’s alcoholic?
Yet there’s a growing market for booze-free brews, as drinkers up and down the country opt to go for completely alcohol free lifestyles, or just fancy the occasional night off the sauce while still enjoying a tasty bevvy.
And thanks to this demand, nowadays there’s actually good alcohol free options in the beer world.
Gone are the dark days of unrefrigerated bottles of Becks Blue being your only option at the pub.
So, to mark Dry January, or Dryanuary or whatever you want to call it, I reviewed three alcohol-free versions of the widely-enjoyed beers Guinness, Punk IPA and Joker IPA.
Are they as good as the real thing? Or are they totally different? Let’s find out.
Alcohol Free Beer 1. Punk AF, from Brewdog
- £5 for a 4 pack of 4 330ml cans from Brewdog’s website
- Brewdog, Ellon
- Style: Alcohol free IPA
I’ve got bad memories of the words “alcohol free beer” and “Brewdog” in the same sentence, as I really can’t stand their original boozeless offering Nanny State.
So when they came out with Punk AF, the alcohol free version of their flagship brew Punk IPA, I wasn’t too eager…
But, it’s actually pretty good.
Without the booze, it’s a lot more thin in body, with a quickly-dissipating head, but it’s a crisp, very light and refreshingly bitter drink.
It’s flavourful enough that you don’t just neck it like a fizzy drink, and a very suitable replacement for Punk IPA if you’re wanting to avoid a hangover.
As good as the real thing? Honestly, no, but it’s a damn good alcohol free version, and it’s very widely available in shops big and small at a decent price.
Alcohol Free Beer 2: Joker AF, from Williams Bros
- £1.75 per 440ml can on the Williams Bros website
- Williams Bros Brewing Co, Alloa
- Style: Alcohol free IPA
Joker IPA is one of my favourite go-to relatively cheap IPAs you can buy in most supermarkets.
Brewed by Williams Bros based in Alloa, it’s a great alternative to a lot of mainstream beer, and you can increasingly find it on tap in many pubs.
But how’s the alcohol free version?
Compared to Punk AF, it’s much thicker in body, and more similar to the real deal boozy version of Joker IPA.
A lot more flavourful too, but at the same time I found it to be a bit more sweet and cloying than Brewdog’s big alcohol free option, which isn’t so much to my tastes, but it could be yours.
As good as the real thing? It’s very close, and a great choice of alcohol free beer when you’re off the drink.
Alcohol Free Beer 3: Guinness 0.0
- £4.50 per 4 pack of 440ml cans at Tesco
- Guinness, Dublin
- Style: Alcohol free stout
The previous two alcohol free beers in this list are pretty safe styles to make alcohol free versions of, as IPAs get most of their oomph from their bitter hoppiness.
But how can you make a booze-free version of Guinness and retain its dark, malty, boozy sweetness, AND its trademark porridge-thick texture?
The answer is, sort of.
Guinness 0.0 is absolutely the best alcohol free version of Guinness anyone could make, I reckon.
It’s more than a bit thinner in texture than the real thing, but it pours with that classic thick head, which it retains all the way through the drink.
This alcohol free stout has all the flavour of the original, but it just doesn’t have the body.
That being said, it was thoroughly enjoyable all the way through — it’s different of course, but not in a bad way.
As good as the real thing? I really think of all the alcohol free versions of big beers out there, this is one of the best in terms of replicating the true Guinness experience.
I’d have it not just during a dry spell, but also happily as a “filler” pint at the pub to stave off that hangover.