A newly dry drinker’s guide to alcohol-free beers

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I’ve been sober for coming up to two months now after having my last drink at some time around 2am on January 1. Asking me a year ago whether I would ever consider taking time off from drinking, or even suggesting ‘Dry January’, would have resulted in an unwavering ‘no’, probably accompanied by a laugh.

I was struck last year watching Adrian Chiles’s TV documentary, Drinkers Like MeThe film looked at his boozing habits, which can only be described as floating somewhere in the grey area right before alcoholism. I distinctly remember equating his intake to that of my own. I was a drinker like him.

I’ve spent the last two months testing out alcohol-free beers. It has been interesting, and I’ve found two or three good beers that I will continue to drink while I remain a dry-drinker.

Czech Low Alcohol Pilsner by Sainsbury’s 0.5% – 7/10
For an own-brand beer, this is very good. It has everything expected in a pilsner and, thankfully, has leagues of depth.

Brewdog Nanny State 0.5% – 5/10 
This alcohol-free take on a craft ale is a step in the right direction, with a good juicy, hoppy flavor but its watery aftertaste and lack of depth lets it down.

Heineken 0.0% – 6/10
A solid, refreshing lager taste with this beer, not dissimilar to its 5.0% alcohol big brother.

Estrella Galicia 0.0% – 8/10
The Northern Spanish brewers, not to be confused with the Barcelona-based Estrella Dam, have done a great job with this beer, which in flavour alone could see off full alcohol rivals. There is no watery aftertaste common in most alcohol-free beers.

Cobra Zero – 3/10
Drunk alone, this beer was disappointing with a watery and warm end-of-beer taste. With food, the beer did improve somewhat but did not redeem itself enough to gain a higher score.

Bavaria 0.0% – 5/10
With a fruity lager-like flavour, this is the lightest of the lot but because of its inoffensive taste and low price, I would get this again as a refreshing summer beer.

Franziskaner Weissbier Alkoholfrei 0.5% – 7/10
This German brewer has done a good job of getting flavour out of a beer devoid of alcohol. With a hint of vanilla, it maintains the full-bodied taste of a wheat beer.

Old Speckled Hen Low Alcohol 0.5% – 5/10 
A standard traditional ale. Let down by an overly metallic and weak taste expected from an alcohol-free ale.

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