Thirsty Thursday - Non-Alcoholic Beer Review

This weeks Thirsty Thursday will review Bitburger Drive Alcoholfrei, Buckler, and Kaliber non-alcoholics- all available in most beer stores.
 

Why the heck are we doing non-alcoholic beer reviews? Well… let me tell you.

 
There are a number of reasons why it is important to have a look at the non-alcoholic class of beers. First and most importantly our father made the choice some 20 odd years ago to give up drinking and is always on the look out to find good “Near Beers” (He’s probably spilled more beer in his earlier days than I’ve had to drink).

In honor of him, we’ve decided to help with his quest to find the best non-alcoholic cold one.

Secondly, I came across a great non-alcoholic malt beverage at the bar this week and was pleasantly surprised by what I found. Who knows, maybe there are more out there…
 

The Setting

 
After a long drive into Montreal to celebrate a friends new job- I was thirsty for a beer. We went to support his move to manage a relatively new drinking establishment called the Royal Phoenix Bar in the hip mile-end region of the city.

After quenching my thirst with a pint of Sleeman’s Honey Brown (the happy hour special) I was ready for another. With a long drive home I pondered my alternatives and being the responsible man I am I asked the bartender if he had any non-alcoholic beers available.

To which the barkeep shockingly replied, “As a matter of fact we do. Bitburger Drive. We just got it in last week and I didn’t even know it was non-alcoholic. I actually served it to some of our patrons when they asked for an import.”

From the outside these Non-Alcoholic beers look like regular beers… Lets find out if they taste similar on the inside.

Bitburger Drive Alcoholfrei
Imported from Germany
0.0 ABV

Bitburger Non Alcoholic Beer ReviewI haven’t had a non-alcoholic beer in sometime and was shocked (in a good way) after tipping this bad boy into the pint.

It poured a golden straw color with a slight froth that hung around a little. The aroma wasn’t all that powerful and smelled a bit off, which from memory is like most “near beers” I’ve sampled.

It was crisp, clean and nicely carbonated, reminding me of its father (traditional Bitburger). Often, non alcoholic beers tend to be on the sweet and sugary side but not so in the Drive’s case.

All in all, I rather enjoyed the Bitburger Alcoholfrei and barely noticed I wasn’t drinking something a little more potent.

Would I order another? Absolutely and had the barkeep thrown one my way before he realized it was alcohol free, I probably wouldn’t have noticed either.


Not to be outdone… Jon wanted to get in on the action and gave a couple near beers a try (for my father’s sake of course).

 
Here is what he found:

BUCKLER Non-Alcoholic Malt Beverage
Imported from Holland
0.5% ABV

The Buckler malt beverage is brewed by Heineken and imported from Amsterdam so it carries similar traits to other European brews minus the alcohol and calories. How many calories? There are just 65 calories in a bottle of Buckler.

The appearance of Buckler in a pint glass resembled much of the lighter style beers found in most bars. The shimmering honey color was topped with a thick layer of foam. The beer released minimal carbonation.

The aroma was over powered with heavy European hops.

The taste was light and sweet with very little crisp.

The Verdict:

This particular brew was on the watery side but if someone handed it to me in a bar I wouldn’t have been able to taste the difference between it and some of the light domestics most drink.

KALIBER
Imported from the brewers of Guinness
Less than 0.5% ABV

kaliber non alcoholic beer reviewThe label described this Malt Beverage by its rich amber color and full body, delivering all the taste of a premium import with less alcohol than beer.

The appearance of the Kaliber in a pint glass was light amber with very little to no head.

The aroma was strong homemade bread with heavy yeast characteristics.

The flavor was deep and the malts tasted of burnt caramel. On a side note; Guinness is also made from burnt malts.

How many calories in Kaliber Non Alcoholic beer? This darker malt beverage has a whopping 71 calories (hint of sarcasm). Again a favorable alternative to those really counting calories or those who chose not to consume alcohol.

The Verdict:

I think most would be fooled as to what they were drinking when trying to compare this reasonably good non-alcoholic to a domestic. I did notice a slight difference but it was very minor and was pleased with the result.
 

One versus the other

 
Between the two I tried, Buckler won this battle.

And a word for the wise… make sure the Non-Alcoholic beers are served ICE COLD. Makes all the difference.
 

A little Near Beer Info:

 

How is non-alcoholic beer made?

 
In the early days brewers would shorten the fermentation process and although it reduced the alcohol content it also altered the taste of the beer.

Nowadays malt brews are made the exact same way as their full-bodied (alcohol) counterparts and allowed to ferment to full term.

It is only before the very last step that the alcohol is then removed, either through reverse osmosis, heating or by vacuum evaporation. The basic premise is this; alcohol and water have different boiling points and therefor one can be evaporated at a lower temperature than the other (yay for science).

Once the alcohol is removed the beer is filtered and carbonated. Real beer avoids the previous step and goes straight to filtration and carbonation.
 

How many calories in Non-Alcoholic Beer?

 
Being that the majority of calories in beer come from the alcohol, Non Alcoholic beer is much lower and in some cases even has half as many as its alcohol filled counterparts.

Typically a non-alcoholic beer contains between 60-80 calories and is a perfect option for someone looking to pinch a few calories anyway they can.
 

When was non alcoholic beer first made?

 
“Near beer” dates back to the early days of Prohibition. Initially President Wilson tried to reduce the alcohol content to 2.5% but the Temperance Society wouldn’t have it.

 
 
The next time you’re out and about and happen to be behind the wheel don’t be afraid to try a couple of these Non-Alcoholic brews and let’s eliminate the stigma that comes with ordering one at a bar. There isn’t any shame in drinking one of these vacuum evaporated cold ones, especially when you’re the DD.

Cheers,

Jon and Sean

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