Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/8/2016 (1869 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The most common request I get from people around Westman is that I should review Bud Light. Most of the time people are joking because it’s the top selling beer in the region.
However, a recent request I’ve been getting from a few people is that I should do a review of a non-alcoholic beer. Non-alcoholic beers are likely going to be the next trend with the big multinational breweries ever since Labatt introduced Budweiser Prohibition earlier this summer.
At your local grocery store or Liquor Mart, there’s already between two and eight non-alcoholic beers at any given time.
The problem with non-alcoholic beer is that, sure, they’re brewed to have a very low alcohol content, but in most cases, they taste terrible. That’s why you always see those 24s of Molson Exel collecting dust in the grocery store because nobody’s wanting to spend money on beer that tastes worse than Minhas Boxer Lager.
Even in the craft beer scene, breweries are constantly coming out and experimenting with low alcoholic beers while seeing if they can keep the product flavourful and comparable to the full alcohol brews they make. With this we have a category of beers called "session beers," which top out at generally 4 to 4.5 per cent ABV — which is still pretty far from being low alcohol.
Then there’s the popular summertime treat, the Radler, a 50/50 combination of wheat ale and grapefruit juice that ends up topping out around 2.5 to 3.5 per cent on average, making it closer to low alcohol content.
How about non-alcoholic beer that tastes like beer? Well, it’s my duty to go out and see if I can find any.
Budweiser Prohibition — While I’m not going to review Bud Light, I’m trying out Budweiser Prohibition because this beer has single- handedly rejuvenated the non-alcoholic/low alcohol beer market — to the point that it’s only a matter of time until we see the beer on tap at local pubs, considering how well it’s selling out at Liquor Marts around Brandon.
Budweiser Prohibition is rated at 0.0 per cent ABV, containing de-alcoholized beer, malt extract, natural flavours, hop extract, phosphoric acid and hop extract. The thought of extract being used rather than the real ingredients kind of annoys me but considering how big of a scale Labatt brews their beer in each facility, they have to keep the product as consistent as possible.
Prohibition pours a light straw yellow with a good amount of carbonation, reminiscent of your typical Budweiser.
The aroma gives off sweet creamed corn, hint of rice, typical light sweet and grainy prairie barley malt aroma you see in most North American lagers, hints of grass from the hops and bubble gum.
The flavour has a bit of a cracker/frozen pizza crust taste to it, quite a bit of sweetness from the malt extract, creamed corn, light metallic aftertaste, a hint of rice and a hint of bubble gum. The flavour isn’t as crisp as your typical Budweiser but does it taste like it could be a Budweiser product.
It’s very easy to drink but priced higher than most non-alcoholic beers at $2.65 per 473mL can at Liquor Marts around Manitoba and between $9.60 to $13 for six 341mL bottles at Liquor Marts and grocery stores.
While I’m not a fan of Budweiser, Labatt deserves props for making a non-alcoholic beer taste consistent with its main brand.
Krombacher Radler Alkoholfrei — A few Liquor Mart employees recommended this beer to me when I was asking how well the sales of Budweiser Prohibition was doing. I rarely ever say no to a beer recommendation, except for the time when someone suggested that I’d love Bud Light Lime — no thanks.
The first thing I noticed about this beer is that there’s no English translation on the label, which means that Manitoba may be one of the only markets outside Germany that currently gets this beer.
The Radler pours light golden straw, incredibly fizzy/carbonated like a soda. There’s a thick amount of white head that quickly yet gradually fizzes away.
The aroma has sweet grapefruit with a hint of something herbal that appears to be either ginger or green tea. I’m not noticing any beer-like aromas such as bready or grass aromas from the wheat/barley used.
The taste is sweet and mild grapefruit, a bit sugary, hint of lemongrass and a hint of beer somewhere — mostly in the aftertaste, which gives off a grainy bitterness.
Krombacher Radler Alkoholfrei tops out at no more than 0.5 per cent ABV and can be found at Liquor Marts in Brandon, Minnedosa, Neepawa, Roblin, Swan River and Virden for a whopping $1.49 per 330mL bottle.
Erdinger Alkoholfrei — Another non-alcoholic beer out of Germany. Many of you are likely familiar with Erdinger’s beers already as their Erdinger Weissbier is one of the top selling German beers in Manitoba.
Their alkoholfrei pours a cloudy golden wheat ale with a very thick amount of fluffy white foam on top that gradually goes down.
The aroma is sweet, citrusy with a bit of a skunkiness meets a light grapefruit vibe to it, light grassy hops and a bit of what can only be described as the smell of being in a brewery on a hot summer day.
The taste starts off with a strange roasted, almost coffee-like maltiness that’s more common with darker ales, has a bit of a skunkiness to it as well as a light grapefruit sweetness, light lemongrass flavour and the taste of saltine crackers at the end.
Unfortunately it’s pretty disappointing considering that Erdinger generally makes pretty decent beers. The beer tops out at no more than 0.4 per cent ABV and can be found at Liquor Marts for $2.79 per 500mL bottle.
It’s only a matter of time until breweries like Molson will introduce a new generation of non-alcoholic beers and I can already predict the future with Molson Canadian .0067 — which wouldn’t be that hard for them to do seeing that their regular Molson Canadian 67 is only 3.0 per cent ABV already.
That being said, I can’t really see smaller craft breweries getting into the non-alcoholic trend as smaller breweries tend to stay away from those sorts of things — just like how most craft breweries stayed away from the caffeinated beer trend of 2005, the lime beer trend of 2009 and the malt-based fruit cooler trend of 2015.