A taste of the Alcohol-Free Shop

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Finding good quality alcohol-free beers can be a challenge – but with the Alcohol-Free Shop, you can find anything and everything with the click of a mouse!

Founded in 2006 by John Risby, the Alcohol-Free Shop was intended to provide a wide range of quality choices for adults looking for alternatives to alcohol.

Pioneering the message that alcohol-free doesn’t need to be boring, they’ve extended their range year-on-year to now offer over 100 tasty, zero-alcohol drinks including dry wines, craft beers and ready-to-serve cocktails.

I had the chance to try a 12-case of alcohol-free beers from Spain, Portugal, Czech, Germany and Belgium, which arrived promptly and well-packed. The choice and variety on offer were fantastic, and I had a lot of fun working my way through the case! You can even tailor your purchase to only include your favourite beer styles, such as cases of wheat beers, gluten-free, porters and stouts or fruit.

The very best:

Super Bock stout (0.5% ABV) – 5/5

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The Super Bock stout is a fantastic stout with plenty of taste and a good bite to it! Black in colour with a small head, it gave off a faintly sweet aroma of nuts, coffee and chocolate. Overall it is a very inviting beer and is actually quite strong and bitter to the taste. Toast, coffee and earthy hop flavours come through, and it is nicely carbonated with a puckering sensation in the mouth. The blast of flavour is quite intense and the aftertaste is relatively short, but it leaves you wanting more. This beer is both fresh and thirst-quenching, and a great one to sample.

Super Bock pilsner (0.5% ABV) – 5/5

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The Super Bock pilsner is another favourite of mine. Gold in appearance with brilliant clarity, this has a relatively thin head that disappears quite quickly. It packs a punch with an aroma and flavour of toffee, apples and citrus. At the same time, it maintains a hint of a bitter taste, which makes it very refreshing and well-balanced. With a full mouth-feel and lively carbonation, this is an excellent beer with plenty of flavour with a short, refreshing finish.

Maisel’s Weisse (0.5% ABV) – 5/5

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This is another example of how German brewers have perfected the non-alcoholic beer. Amber and cloudy in appearance, it boasts a lot of head when poured and has a faint aroma of sweet wheat and grains with some floral and herbal undertones. The flavour isn’t overwhelming or too powerful, but incredibly well-balanced with all of the makings of your traditional wheat beer. Creamy and warming in the mouth with some lively carbonation, you wouldn’t be able to tell this brew as non-alcoholic. Fresh, flavourful with a strong finish, the craftsmanship is excellent.

Cheers Preta (0.5%) – 5/5

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Finally, a non-alcoholic stout with some character! This Portuguese brew is black and clear in appearance with a faint aroma of blackberry, chocolate and coffee. Sharp and bitter in taste, it’s sweet fruit undertones provide a good balance. The lively carbonation and decent finish made this beer really stand out. An excellent brew, all around.

Jupiler (0% ABV) – 4/5

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Jupiler hails from Belgium and is straw-gold in appearance with little to no head when poured. It offers a faintly malty aroma on the nose and is both sweet and refreshing with grain, citrus and apple flavours coming through. It leaves a warm lasting taste in the mouth which is slightly cloying but overall very enjoyable. A full mouth-feel and lively carbonation make this an excellent choice to try.

Gräfliches Brauhaus Arcobräu Urfass (0.5%) – 4/5

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This is a really tasty lager that is packed full of flavour. Gold in colour with brilliant clarity and a good head when poured, I wasn’t overwhelmed by the aroma, which boasted notes of grain, bread and nut. However, the flavour is well-balanced and relatively strong, and it is excellent when served cold. Carbonation is lively and the mouth-feel is full, I definitely didn’t feel like I’m missing out with this brew.

Ambar (0% ABV) – 4/5

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This Ambar lager is unsurprisingly amber in appearance, with a good head on it and brilliant clarity. It has a strong aroma of caramel and fruit, coming off almost like a sweet cider.  The actual flavour is well balanced, boasting both floral and apple hops and a sweet toffee malt flavour. The finish is relatively bitter, which helps keep the sweetness at bay. It has a nice mouthfeel with plenty of carbonation, so overall a very enjoyable beer.

And all the rest…

Grunbacher alkoholfreie weisse (0.5% ABV) – 3/5

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Grunbacher’s weifbeer looks and smells like your traditional hefeweizen beer. It is straw coloured in appearance with a cloudy, persistent head and boasts a nice aroma of lemon zest, orange peel and wheat. The flavour, however, is a bit too sour for the style – it is quite tangy with some fruit tones. It is also a bit watery with faint carbonation. The finish is quite long and smooth, but the initial taste is a bit too sharp for me.

Bernard Amber (0.5%) – 3/5

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I’m not overly enamoured by this amber ale – while it boasts a full body, it is quite cloying and very malty, and therefore not very refreshing. It has a small head when poured which disappears quite quickly, and the overall flavour is very sweet and full of caramel malts. A very creamy mouthfeel and long finish marked this brew.

Schneider Weiss (0.5%) – 3/5

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Expectations were high for this wheat beer, but unfortunately, it fell a bit far from the mark for me. Cloudy amber in colour with a good head, it has a promising aroma of sweet, caramel grains. The taste, however, is thinner than expected, giving it the impression of ‘trying’ to be a wheat beer with all the right characteristics – including a lemon aftertaste – but showing it’s true colours as a non-alcoholic option.

Jever Fun pilsner (0.3%) – 3/5

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This German pilsner is not my favourite style but it has a nice carbonation and bitter aftertaste. A good head when poured and straw in colour, it boasts an apple fruity nose and the lager taste gives way to a bitter finish. It is a decent brew but not the top of my list.

Sagres (0.5% ABV) – 2/5

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I found Sagres to be quite a middle-of-the-road lager. Gold and clear in appearance, it has a good head when poured but became thin quite quickly. With a faint aroma of spent grain, I found the taste to be a bit watery on the palate. It is a bit sticky and not that refreshing for a lager. Probably not one that I’d go for again!

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