Nestled in the waterways of the River Lea in East London, Nirvana Brewery is a low and alcohol-free craft brewery which only uses locally sourced and natural ingredients to create its beer. Founded by Steve Dass, the brewery was conceived following a recent trip to India when he decided to give up drinking for good. It has been operating for just over a year and all of the brews are low calorie, vegan and made naturally without any chemical enhancements.
As the name and branding implies, Nirvana claims that environmentalism, provenance and traceability are at the heart of their operations, whether that is in lightweight bottling or donating spent grain to local farms to feed livestock. You can even take part in yoga classes at the brewery if you are in the area!
Nirvana has five beers in its range, the highest of which is 1% ABV. I found the beers to be a bit of a mixed bag – I was very impressed with the darker beers, including the stout, which are usually very hard to pull off in the non-alcoholic department. Their lighter IPA and Pale Ale just didn’t do it for me however – I thought they were for the most part flat and flavourless. You may feel differently depending on whether you prefer malts over hops.
Overall, I’d give Nirvana a 4/5 because the beers that work are fantastic and they’ve got a great range to choose from.
Kosmic Stout, 0.0% ABV – 4/5
Getting a decent non-alcoholic stout is pretty hard, but the Kosmic Stout has pulled it off! It was rich and dark when poured with a decent head and smelled like a plum porter. It had a nice mouth-feel with plenty of carbonation, which can sometimes be a let-down. It was slightly thinner than I would have liked for a stout, but had more body than some of the other dark non-alcoholic beers that I’ve tried. It was packed with flavours of chocolate, vanilla and plum so I thought it was pretty enjoyable all around.
Tantra Pale Ale, 0.0% – 4/5
I was impressed with the Tantra, although I’m not sure I would have classed it as a pale ale myself – it seems more along the lines of a brown ale. It was a burnt orange colour when poured, had a decent head and a very malty nose. Nicely carbonated, the caramel malt flavours really came through with a lingering hoppy bitterness. It was a lovely beer with plenty of taste.
Karma Pale Ale, 0.5% – 2/5
This pale ale might be light and refreshing, but it didn’t come close to being a beer in my books. Upon pouring, it was clear that it wasn’t very carbonated and frankly didn’t have much taste to it – I had to check the label to see that it was supposed to taste of citrus floral hops. I definitely got a hint of “flower” to it, but overall I thought it was lacking in flavour and carbonation.
Sutra IPA 0.5% – 2/5
Again, I feel like the lighter beers have let Nirvana Brewery down. The Sutra was better than the Karma in that it had some nice hoppy flavours and aromas, but again it was flat upon pouring. It tasted like a non-alcoholic beer, which in my books is never the key to a strong review – sorry Sutra.
Chakra IPA 1% – 4/5
The Chakra IPA saves the day in the IPA department! A darker beer in colour, this poured very well, had good carbonation, depth and flavour. An American hopped pale ale, it had a lovely bitter finish that gave it that authentic full alcohol flavour. I would definitely recommend.
Want to try some Nirvana beers? As the brewery is quite new they are limited to primarily London bottle and farm shops, but you can buy them online at Dry Drinker.
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