Travelling suds

The first two weeks of March involved a trip to Vietnam for a honeymoon with my wife –  never one to miss out on beer related tourism I got stuck in at the first chance.

Dublin Airport
Marquette Bar – Dublin airport – T1

As is customary for Irish people going on holidays the airport bar is always a welcome sight before a long haul flight. Its been a while since I’ve departed from Terminal 1 in Dublin but I had heard that Marquette had upped their beer game from the usual macro offerings to now include local Dublin heroes Hope in bottles as well as the Galway Bay core range and the ever reliable Galway Hooker pale ale.

Galway Hooker Irish pale aleGalway Bay Full Sail IPA

Wolf Brewery Witbier 5.9%

This was painfully bad

This was my first and so far only experience of Russian craft beer but it wasn’t an enjoyable one.
Im a fan of the witbier as a style, its usually a pleasant light bodied, citrus forward beer that can be slightly sweet but more commonly has a dry finish. This was an over the top fake orange infused mess. It reminded me of another disastrous pseudo witbier style ale I remember from my time in Canada – Shocktop. Anyone who’s ever had the misfortune of experiencing a Shocktop will know what I am talking about here. The likes of St Bernardus witbier is the gold standard for me, I’d even consider Hoegaarden to be VASTLY superior to this one.

Wolf Brewery IPA v.3 5.9%

A 5.9% Session IPA from Wolf Brewery, yes a 5.9% Session ale

The options on the plane in terms of beer available to buy were Wolf Brewerys Witbier, an IPA and their Mead, I was more interested in what the IPA was like so I went for that instead of the Mead. This wasn’t a whole lot better than the Witbier in terms of how it was brewed. It was cloyingly over bitter and completely unbalanced making for an overall very unpleasant experience.
(On the return journey through Moscow airport I did see two other options from Wolf for sale – a lager and a Blonde ale, because the Wit and IPA were so bad I gladly gave the other two options a wide berth)
I would definitely be interested in trying more Russian micro brewed beers, this is surely not as good as it gets.

Moscow airport for the most part is an ABinBev stronghold from what I could see.
Taps are Leffe, Hoegaarden, Budweiser and two Spaten offerings in most bars with Lowenbrau and Stella Artois the bottled options.

Reliable Spaten beers – Dunkel & Helles

img_20190303_175103As far as macro owned beer goes its hard to pass over a fresh Spaten when its on offer.
First up I went with a regular indulgence of mine – Spatens Munich Helles.
The usual bright, light bodied, mildly hopped and very easily drank helles is one of the simpler styles out there. Its what beer should taste like.
After the Helles I moved onto the Dunkel. This is something that I would absolutely love to see in Ireland as commonly as the Helles but theres probably not the same demand for this style.
Typical dunkel traits here, bready, nutty toasty aroma, dark red to dark brown in colour from the roasted Munich malt used. Hops aren’t a dominant feature. Really enjoyed this one. Im not sure how beer is usually priced in Russia or was this an extra airport tax but the Spaten wasn’t cheap, they were in the region of €7 each, Dublin-esque pricing I suppose.

Guinness Nitro IPA 5.8%

One of the oddest Guinness products Ive had, a nitro IPA.

Ive seen this online lots of times before but this was the first time I had ever seen it infront of me available to buy. This is another Guinness product that will never make it in Ireland because of the dominance of the stout and because well, this is terrible. It might be just me but there is no way a nitro poured IPA should ever be a thing. I couldn’t detect any hop aroma or flavour in this, the nitro just mutes and kills all of it, malt included.
Was it creamy? Yes it was but thats not what anyone in their right mind wants from an IPA. A truly bizarre and odd creation.

Greene King Abbot ale 5%

Abbot Ale ESB from Greene King

This was a surprising option to see alongside the Guinness Nitro IPA and another that I had never had a draught pour of. A classically English malt driven Extra special/Strong bitter is not something you see much of outside of the UK in my experience. Full flavoured, balanced and satisfying. This was a treat. A very minor gripe was serving it in a Kilkenny glass but we will forgive that.

Just like Moscow airport was an ABinBev territory, South East Asia is all about Heineken and its many, many brands (I have since learned that Vietnam is Tiger and SE Asia Heinekens largest market in the world, ok then)
With the odd exception the overwhelming style is the pale adjunct lager.
Cheap (anywhere from €0.50c – €1.50) sweet, pale, light, cold, wet and alcoholic applies to every single of the regional beers in Vietnam. With the exception of packaging there is very little, if anything to distinguish them from each other.

Our first stop in Vietnam was the capital city of Hanoi, there was a very small amount of craft beers available here, one of them is pictured below, a pale ale from East West Brewing. East West was one of three, maybe four breweries brewing more western/ American style ales. This particular pale ale was a very welcome change from the light lagers, it had a beautiful combination of American and New Zealand hops. It had notes of zesty lemon and limes – what was most pleasantly surprising was its date system, it had a shelf life of 90 days which is the amount of shelf life any hop forward beer should get.
Craft beers were a lot more expensive than the local lagers ranging from about €3.50 – €5.00 in a bar, in Irish terms, still cheap.

Saigon Special, Ha Long Classic, 333 Export, Hanoi Beer, East West pale ale, Bia Ha Noi

Hoi An
A one hour flight from Hanoi was Da Nang city and from there were travelled to the smaller town of Hoi An. Dramatically warmer temperature meant refreshment and hydration was going to be a priority here too… so again the vast majority of beers here were the same ice-cold pale adjunct lagers with a smattering of Tiger, a Corona style Tiger beer called Tiger Crystal and a few more craft options. We discovered a bar in the town called the Tap House which seemed to be the first dedicated beer bar we found in Vietnam. The menu consisted of some appealing options from of a Belgian Dark, coffee porter, an English style pale ale by Heart of Darkness and by far the best beer I tried while in Vietnam, a passionfruit Wheat ale from Pasteur Street Brewing from Saigon. It was super refreshing in 30 degree heat, tart but satisfying and super enjoyable. This was what I really needed at this point.

East West – Summer Hefeweizen, Pasteur Street – Coffee Porter, East West – Belgian Dark, Heart of Darkness – Pitless Folly pale ale, Tiger – Crystal
Passionfruit Wheat ale by Pasteur Street Brewing. Easily the best beer I had in Vietnam

Another interesting beer discovery in Vietnam is essentially home-brewed beer available by the glass on the street from street traders, food stalls and some smaller restaurants. Typically this beer is in the 3% abv region. One of these beers that we had cost a whopping 5,000 Vietnamese Dong – a whole €0.07c for a 500ml glass. It was ok, Ive had worse but the novelty of it was the best part of it.

Hoi An street beer
Hoi An Street Beer


Saigon/Ho Chi Minh
We thought Hoi An was hot…Saigon was worse, not much hotter temperature wise but the humidity was incredible – so the sensible thing to do in those energy sapping conditions is replace those lost fluids, obviously.
On arriving in HCM we found a bar close to our accommodation that carried more than pale lagers. We ordered some beers and got a pizza. I opted for a witbier from a Vietnamese brewery called Te Te and it was not good at all. It tasted of nothing, zero aroma, really thin and watery and was a big disappointment. There didn’t seem to be even a hint of orange or coriander in the brewing of this.
Thankfully Pasteur Street Brewing is located in HCM so we got there at the earliest opportunity. On arrival the taproom is down an alleyway and up a stairs overlooking one of Vietnams busiest streets. The taproom has lots of tasty bites to eat on the menu along with a tap list covering all bases. I had a nitro dry Irish stout, a dragon fruit gose and topped it off with a New England Pale ale – most remarkable by the fact that the NEPA wasn’t all juice but still retained some bitterness on the finish, much welcome, much surprising.
Another beer bar worth noting in HCM/Saigon is Ong Cao – fine draught selection of micro brewed beers from all over Vietnam.

Nitro dry Irish stout, Dragonfruit Gose and a New England pale ale
Pasteur Street Brewing Tap room in Saigon

Phu Quoc
The final destination we visited in Vietnam was the island of Phu Quoc.
There seemed to be two beer options local to the Phu Quoc – Phu Quoc beer in a plastic bottle (with a guy who looked like a Captain Birdseye/Pat Mustard hybrid on the label) and Bivana – both equally as watery and unsatisfying and both ridiculously cheap.
Bivina was a marginally better choice out of the two if Im honest. Aside from these two beers there was a few occasions where there was better options available. Again we saw Pasteur Street beers showing up in cans and on draught in restaurants alongside another brewery that caught our attention while there – Heart of Darkness. When the option presented itself  I had a hopped pilsner and surprise, surprise another very enjoyable New England IPA called Loose Rivet, 7.5% and it felt and tasted like an actual beer – fully satisfying, the hops were pungent, the aroma was apparent from about 2 feet away – it was far from an all juice affair.

A Captain Birdseye/Pat Mustard love-child beer



14 nights, 15 days in Vietnam, 3 cities and 8 plane journeys, some layovers with one or two beers along the way.

Recent beers vol.1

In the background of all the #FlagshipFebruary stuff I was tipping away at some new beers. Some are new additions to the market and some new to me.

Sierra Nevada California IPA 4.2%
There are no brewing faults in this beer, this is Sierra Nevada after all but I feel like California IPA is just a little samey at this stage although I could see this being a big hit in Californian weather. It has a decent summery element to it.
The can says Citrusy and Sessionable ale, true, its both of those but it just doesn’t do it for me. Im sure it will have its fans but for me once was enough.

St.Mels Brewing Company Helles lager 5%
This was a strange one. The bottle I got is definitely no way a Helles lager. The grain character, lighter body and bright elements of the style just didn’t shine through for me. It felt and drank much more like another German style, the Weizenbock. All this aside I still enjoyed it for what it was, confusing but still satisfying.

Sierra Nevada Brut IPA 6.2%
Sierra Nevada have gotten onboard with one of the latest style crazes for their current seasonal release.
Appearance once poured in the glass is clear and straw in colour, not a whole lot of aroma, the body is weak and watery, certainly not like a 6.2% beer at all, this along with the carbonation not being sufficient enough for me to appreciate it the way I hoped I would makes this overall pretty underwhelming. The dryness of a brut is there but thats about it. This is the third brut IPA I have tried in the last few months, none have it got quite right so far – whatever right is.

Killarney Brewing Company – Devils Helles Lager 4.2%
I know this has been around for a while but this is my first time picking it up. Straight off it looks the part, lovely clear golden colour, decent head, smells good. Tasting it backs up the bottles claim of being crisp and clean – it definitely is crisp and clean but the hop charcter for a Helles is a bit too muted. Foremost I’m expecting the malty grain to come through with a hop spice lingering in the background – not so much here.

Rye River – Ól Orange Lager 4.4%
This is possibly my favourite Rye River small batch release so far. I know there has been many different styles released from a Belgian stout to a New England IPA juice bomb to a double IPA but this just sits with me perfectly.  The drinkability of this is really great, loads of flavour, not massive in ABV but still feels like a full and satisfying beer which Im guessing is due to the use of wheat (sorry coeliacs, this ones not for you) Its got Summertime stamped all over it and I would genuinely love to see this being brewed regularly.
The hop bill is impressive but I gotta think its all about the mandarin bavaria delivering that orangey citrusy nectarous goodness. Impressed.

DOT Brewing Tequila Barrel aged IPA 5.5%
On the west coast of Ireland we don’t get a massive amount of DOT releases but this managed to appear in front of me and I snapped it up (I’ve since actually bought a few more) Tequila barrel aged stuff is something that first appeared on my radar with while living in Canada and more recently in Ireland at Christmas with the imported Sierra Nevada tequila barrel aged Otra Vez I received as a present.
Bourbon and whiskey barrel ageing can take a hike, its over done now, everything has gotten the bourbon or whiskey treatment. Tequila, like rum barrels adds a whole different element to ageing stuff.
Big tequila influence on this in both taste and aroma and it dominates it, the joys of working with barrels I suppose. I would love to taste both the non barrel aged stuff and the barrel aged stuff as a comparison. In short this is tasty and different, those DOT guys love their barrels.

Recent beers Vol. 2

Garage Beer Co – Triangles 5.2% Session ale
New to the Irish market recently is Garage Beer Co from Barcelona. Ive seen a lot of others talking the range up over the last few weeks so I was intrigued to see what the fuss was about. Triangles was disappointing for me. Boring, uninspired, the very same as so many of the beers on off-licence shelves now. Its juice and haze all day long but there are many better alternatives to this out there and for considerably less money, Kinnegar Big Bunny being one for sure. Also, a session ale at 5.2%? OK.

Garage Beer Co Soup IPA

After Triangles I really wasn’t holding much hope for Soup. Again this is incredibly generic, its the exact same as thousands of other beers. There is not much to set this apart from even Triangles, maybe a little more bitterness but that’s about it. It’s a muddle of hops and some Vermont yeast. Soup indeed.

Boundary Brewing Co-op – Tobi German pilsner 5.1%
First Boundary beer in can form Ive had. Billing it as a German pilsner got my hopes up but unfortunately its not what I hoped it would be. Along with a poor carbonation it lacked the dryness Ive come to expect from a German pilsner leaving the mouthfeel a little flat.

Boundary Brewing Co-op – American Pale ale 3.5%
This would be a really good option as a session beer for me. Its got loads of classic APA flavours and aromas and somewhat unusually for an APA it clocks in at only 3.5%. Body wise it is on the thin side but in session terms this is alright in my opinion.

Wicklow Wolf 50 Shades of Bray Black NE-IPA 5.8%
Can says its a Black New England IPA but it has more of a Cascadian IPA feel to it, or more likely a bit of both. Interestingly different beer throughout and because its pretty close to black it looks like it might be super heavy, it definitely isn’t a big heavy bodied beer. Theres a real nice fruit character to it that you probably won’t expect. For me this is one of the better recent WW releases.

Kinnegar Bucket Brigade Red Rye IPA 6.5%
Ive only recently been able to track down a can of Bucket Brigade, I never found it in its bottle form from seasonals past either. This Red Rye IPA is as impressive as it sounds. Its got the rye spiciness and earthiness you get with Rust Bucket but Bucket Brigade seems a bit more balanced. Super easy to drink at 6.5%, very much enjoyed. Essentially there isn’t a Kinnegar beer out there not worth buying, they are doing it fantastically well across the board.

#FlagshipFebruary Part 3

Its the last day of February so 3 very final shouts for some #FlagshipFebruary beers in part 3

Sierra Nevada Pale ale 5.6%
Theres not much to say about Sierra Nevada pale ale that hasn’t been said a billion times before. Its probably the beer that a lot of current era brewers will admit to being originally influenced by. Super simple ingredients including 2-row malt and fresh cone cascade hops to finish it. Nearly 40 years after taking an English pale ale and putting their own take on it this has stood the test of time for Sierra Nevada. In a current world of hop mountains, complicated grain bills and silly adjuncts this shows that simple was done right and consistency was priority. Cant be recommended enough!

Brooklyn Brewery Brooklyn (Vienna) Lager 5.2%
Another classic from an America brewery in the form of a Vienna style lager from Brooklyn. Wonderful malty caramel nose with very subtle hop bitterness rounding out the malt sweetness. Retains a decent head and has that darker amber appearance from the malt. A great representation of the style for me and very nice to revisit periodically.

8 Degrees Howing Gale Irish Pale ale 4.5%
Howling Gale is my 2nd beer from 8 Degrees and very close to the top of my list of favourite Irish pale ales.
Citrus, piney, grapefruit aroma that follows through in the taste. Theres a lovely bitter hop bite to finish that you don’t find too much of any more in pale ales in this and its gladly appreciated by me. This is a real beer in a world of 8% lactose induced haze bombs.

#FlagshipFebruary Part 2

Yellowbelly Brewing Citra Pale ale 4.8%
This American style pale ale uses BAGS of citra hops in it so if thats your thing – get on it.
All good core range beers offer drinkability, flavour, popularity and consistency to become a winner. Its not that long ago that this little beauty was only available in 330ml cans for home consumption, stepping it up to 440ml was a nice addition but I pray regularly that one day Yellowbelly HQ will announce a pint can version of this. If anyone in Ireland will take the plunge and do something like a 568ml can – they will.
As of 06/02/2019 Citra Pale ale was voted the members BOTY for the previous 12 months of 2018. Congratulations to the ‘Bellys

Galway Hooker Irish pale ale 4.2%
Galway Hooker Irish pale ale is another beer I have criminally neglected for the last few years despite it being brewed locally to me for in the region of 13 years.
Straight up, no messing about, this is a cracker. Hopped with cascade and a very simple malt selection this is akin to a Sierra Nevada pale ale – from Galway. Its popularity is reflected in it availability, decent beer outlets carry at least one Galway Hooker product most likely this one. It is available in tonnes of Galway restaurants and bars and even Dublin airport have had it on tap for a while now.

Porterhouse Brewing Plain porter 4.2%
Plain porter is another quality beer from Porterhouse. All the usual porter adjectives apply here. Its roasty and chocolatey, full mouthfeel without a heavy body, appropriate amount bitterness, nice earthy flavours from classic porter hops like East Kent Goldings. Winner of several beer awards, never disappoints.

8 Degrees Bohemian Pilsner 4%
In the recent past 8 Degrees have given their Bohemian pilsner a new face-lifted label and tweaked the receipe. Being as simple in ingredients as they are, pilsners don’t hide flaws. If you are going to make a pilsner one of your flagship beers then do it correctly, like 8 Degrees have. All the Bohemian pilsner trademarks are here.
Saaz hops – check. Rich bready biscuity malt – check. Soft water profile – check. Stylistically accurate – check.

Kinnegar Brewing Scraggy Bay IPA 5.8%
Scraggy Bay is not as bitter as I once believed it was (this is more to do with me becoming a lot more accustomed to more bitter beers than Kinnegar themselves toning the beer down).
Scraggy Bay is an English style IPA, nice floral aromatic hops, nice body, superbly balanced all round, all the piney and grassy bitterness you are looking for is reserved for Crossroads American IPA. Kinnegars core range is carried countrywide and its a big seller from north to south in Ireland and export is looking well too I believe.

The White Hag Little Fawn Session IPA 4.2%
Little Fawn pleases even non craft drinkers and I am pretty sure it has converted more than one or two people over the years. 
Using 100% Irish malt along with buckets of flavour from those late mosaic hop additions makes it a strong contender for one of the best brews in the country in my eyes.
Clocking in at 4.2% really does give this an edge in session terms, I know I would happily tuck away a few Little Fawns if that was one of the options infront of me.
If you havent had a Little Fawn from The White Hag then what have you been doing with yourself? Another beer thats readily available across multiple retailers in 4 for €10/3 for €9 type deals. Is it safe to say this is an Irish classic yet?

#FlagshipFebruary Part 1

February 2019 saw the new initiative from Stephen Beaumont of Beaumont Drinks over Stateside about supporting and revisiting some flagship releases we have all come to know and love over the years.
As well as some of the bigger known American brews like Founders All Day IPA and Sierra Nevadas 30+ year old classic Pale ale I decided to revisit some Irish flagship/core range brews that are in my experience usually very easily acquired in most decent beer outlets around the country.
Lets start the reviews with some cliches like these beers keep a brewers lights on year round, they pay the bills, they allow experimentation on other smaller batch seasonal projects etc etc. It’s true. They do.

Flagship February website

Founders All Day IPA 4.7% 355ml bottle
First up is one of the bigger craft guys from ‘Merica.
Michigan based Founders can thank this beer for approximately 50% of their entire sales, not bad for a brewery that was consistently in the 8-10% ABV bracket back in the day before All Day was released. All Day IPA is as it sounds, one for one for the session. Bright and citrusy, a teeny little bitterness reminder from the hops, it’s seriously tasty – you could devour this by the keg. Im sure plenty have.

Larkins Helles Lager 5.0% 440ml can
If I am honest this particular can was a bit of a disappointment. The carbonation was super low, the head dissipated too quickly for me leaving a less than satisfactory mouthfeel. Ive had this beer before and it was a lot better, maybe a dud can caused by a seaming issue on the canning run? With a Helles its primarily about the grains used shining through and complimented with a sparing use of German hops, I can see that they have the elements of it here, the lack of carbonation really took away from the bright by nature of a Helles. I have no reason to believe that Larkins have messed up with this batch, all their other offerings are top notch.

Porterhouse Brewing Temple Lager 4.2% 500ml bottle
Also known as Temple Brau, this is an easy going lager. This will definitely not offend even the biggest Saturday night Heino Temple Bar drinker, it might even impress them. Classically hopped with a crisp clean slightly off sweet finish from the malt. Its a core range offering for a reason.

Whiplash Rollover 3.8% 330ml can
Another beer that I have neglected to try for a while, Rollover sits perfectly within the manic Whiplash range for me. This is what Whiplash themselves describe a New England style IPA at Session strength ABV. All the hops with less than half the alcohol that Whiplash is known for. This beer is a pleasure to drink, its got a nice hop bite on the back end without venturing into soupy juice double IPA terrority.

Galway Bay Full Sail IPA 5.8% 500ml bottle
Being a Galway native I’ve got a soft spot for Full Sail from time to time. In its tenth year of existence it’s one of the original juicy American influenced IPAs in Ireland. Its a beer I drink regulary whether in bottle or on draught.
Moderate bitterness from the American hops sits perfectly alongside a nice a simple malt bill. Well balanced throughout and a decent shout at 5.8% ABV too. It’s no mystery why this is as popular as it is. Tastes just like more. A real fine flagship beer for Galway Bay.

Kinnegar Limeburner Pale ale 4.7% 500ml bottle
The first of two Kinnegar beers I will be revisiting for #FlagshipFebruary is Limeburner.
Alongside Helles lager my other favourite style is the pale ale and its many many variations.
Limeburner is a treat, I almost forgot how damn good it is. An ideal beer for a hot sunny day, extremely refreshing and full of flavour while still light enough in both alcohol and body that you could be forgiven for putting away a few of these with or without something to eat. Another cracking core range offering thats possibly not given nearly as much love as it deserves.

More to come…

Dry January options

January is now the month of dry-ness in Ireland (for some) and it leaves beer drinkers like me looking for a decently flavoured and satisfying malt based beverage – alcoholic content aside. Low and non alcoholic beers are seeing decent growth worldwide recently so the options are increasing.
Ive picked up all of these beers locally between a few different retailers so this is what was at hand, no special effort was made to track any of these down but there are a lot more out there if you feel the need to find them.

Brewdog – Nanny state pale ale – 330ml bottle
This is one of the more accessible newer non alcoholic offerings you will find in decent beer retailers. Nanny State has lots of hops in it, all the big name hops from Centennial, Columbus, Cascade, Amarillo and Simcoe backed up with a pile (EIGHT) speciality malts. With that sort of a hop and malt bill you would be expecting this to be phenomenal and I suppose its not bad.
The hops are evident from the moment you open the bottle, its definitely hopped up, its got a decent amount of bitterness to begin with but personally I would find the bitterness grating after a few but where it falls down is bodywise. Unfortunately the usual thinness associated with non alcoholic beers is here despite the heroic grain bill its got. Its worth a try I suppose.

Mikkeller – Drink’in the sun – 330ml bottle
Similarly enough to Nanny State this is a relatively new regular addition to Irish shelves from Danish brewing outfit Mikkeller. Its an American style wheat ale coming in at 0.3% abv. This is not like any other non alcoholic beers you may have tried previously. Its pours a nice hazy golden colour with a fluffy white head. Tropical and citrus fruits foremost with Drink’in the Sun, super easy drinking, bright and refreshing. Bodywise the wheat carries it nicely, you would be forgiven for thinking this was a session ale with an ABV higher than 0.3%. Recommended.

Heineken – 0.0 – 330ml bottle
This, along with Erdinger Alkoholfrei will most likely be the most readily available non alcoholic offering you will find in your local pub/retailer.
Im not a Heineken fan, I find their regular pilsner to be weak, watery and tasteless. This is no different, its all of those things – with no alcohol. Its got that skunky aroma that comes with beers in clear and green bottles and seems to be a trademark of our Dutch friends. Would I buy this again? No, I definitely would not.

Erdinger Alkoholfrei – 500ml can
A German brewing legend like Erdinger should fill you with confidence that they can make fine beer consistently. Im a big fan of their usual offerings from Dunkle, Urweiss, Oktoberfest and Schneeweiss but unfortunately this falls way short of anything else Erdinger produces. I am a fan of nearly everything from these guys but not this, its a got a weird tin/metallic aroma off it, very weak bodywise for a Weissbier and a sweetness thats associated with NA beers. Its probably the most readily available non alcoholic beer you will find but for me this doesn’t taste like beer at all. With a better selection of other NA’s now available I would not pick this up again.
(I tried both the bottled and canned Eridinger Alkoholfrei and both have the same metallic aroma so its nothing to do with the packaging in my opinion)

Weihenstephaner – Alkoholfrei Munich Helles – 500ml bottle
Munich Helles is one of my favourite beer styles. Its a simple German classic, doesn’t rely on a mountain of hops, it shows off the malt beautifully and you can easily drink a few of them so when the worlds oldest brewery makes a non alcoholic version of their helles I’m on it. This was the first real good non alcoholic beer that I have ever had. Its got a great bready aroma thanks to the malt being allowed to shine. The NA version of this beer works well for me because the regular version has a light enough body and mouthfeel to begin with so this doesn’t feel like its missing anything. The hops deliver a nice spiciness to the finish that will refresh you. I really like this beer from Weihenstephaner, its a good alternative to its regular Helles.

Thornbridge – Big Easy – 330ml bottle
Another beer thats newish to Irish shelves but falls into the same category as previous non alcoholic beers, lacking in any sort of body. The Big Easy pale ale is hopped with Amarillo and Cascade bringing out the tropical aromas and flavours as the dominant features for me, The body is really thin, disappointingly so. I got the feeling of drinking a flavoured fizzy drink more than a beer which is odd. It pours like, looks like and smells like a decent beer but it falls short of something I would rebuy.

Maisel Weiss – Alkoholfrei – Weissbier – 500ml bottle
For me this is the best non alcoholic beer I could get my hands on. Maisel Weiss Alkoholfrei delivers that full bodied, tasty and satisfying beer that everyone associates with German weissbiers. I think I might struggle in a blind taste test to distinguish between this and the full alcohol version. As you would typically expect from a weissbier theres lots of clove, banana and mild bubblegum going on here. While this would be my personal go to for a low/non alcoholic beer it was also was the cheapest at €1.60 per 500ml bottle so its got great value in its corner too. Of all that I sampled this is by far my favourite.

Open Gate Brewery – Pure Brew – 330ml bottle
Not quite sure how long this one from the Open Gate Brewery in Dublin has been around, a matter of months to a year maybe? Its a non alcoholic lager brewed differently, by that they mean it hasn’t been brewed as a full strength beer and the alcohol boiled off as per many other non alcoholic beers, its to do with a specially developed yeast strain according to Guinness.
All I have to say about this is that its priced appropriately (€5 for 4 330ml bottles) to garner plenty of sales. Its going to have its regular buyers – I won’t be one of them. Weak, watery, thin, aroma and flavour free. No thanks.

Baltika – Zero – 475ml bottle
Baltika Zero is my final non alcoholic option. This really is a poor beer. Another green bottle disaster, definitely lightstruck/skunky with more than a touch of oxidation by means of a cardboard aroma. Taste wise this is sweet from the corn used in brewing it, again not something that I go for. Colour-wise this is about as pale as you can get without it being completely water – think all of the light American big name lagers out there, this is right up there with them. Honestly this is one beer I will never buy again or recommend to anyone.

Other decent options
While none of these meet the spec to be classified as non alcoholic they definitely deserve a mention and should be considered if you are looking to stay under the 4% abv mark for any reason.

O’Brother Brewing – Freewheeler – Super Session IPA 3%

Whiplash – Northern Lights – Micro IPA 2.8%

Stiegl – Radler – 2%

Larkins – Galaxy Quest – 3.8%

Very special mention:
Yellowbelly Brewing & Black Castle Drinks – Designated Driver – Dry hopped Craft Soda