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7 Non-alcoholic Beers to try in Dry January

The Alcohol Free (AF) beer category is unrecognisable compared to just a few years ago. Just about every mainstream lager is in on the action, and there’s a steady stream of new beers, and new brands, emerging all the time. There’s more choice out there, and better quality beer, than ever before. Every style is represented, from crisp, light lager to substantial stouts – and some are beginning to offer additional functional benefits from added ingredients too.

It might be Dry January, but there’s growing demand for these throughout the year, and the broader range of styles means that it increasingly makes sense for bars to offer a selection. Below is a selection of some of the hottest non-alc beers on the market at the moment.

Big Drop Paradiso Citra IPA

Non-alc beer pioneer Big Drop launched its first product, a milk stout, in 2016. A number of award-winning beers have followed in its footsteps, including this Citra IPA, launched in 2019. Like the rest of the range, it hasn’t had alcohol removed, but is brewed using techniques that keep its ABV to under 0.5%. In addition to Citra hops, it’s made with Chinnook, Cascade, Simcoe and Columbus hops. Citra IPA is brewed with barley, oats and wheat, while the entire range incorporates more than 20 speciality grains.

Other beers in the Big Drop range to check out include the brewery’s first, Galactic Milk Stout, its Pine Trail Pale Ale, and its extensive range of seasonal beers and collabs, such as Leafkicker, an amber ale infused with coffee from Square Mile Coffee Roasters.

Beavertown Astro-Nought AF Lager

There’s no shortage of quality alcohol-free lager out there nowadays, but if you’re after something more craft than mainstream, Beavertown has its Astro-Nought AF Lager, a vegan-friendly extra pale ale that it describes as “crisp and clean with a hint of lime zest freshness and a crushably light cereal character”.

Beavertown produces a AF IPA entitled Lazer Crush. Brewed using a yeast that keeps the alcohol down to 0.3%, it’s made with a pilsner malt and a trio of hops, namely Azacca, Amarillo and Citra. The brewery says that the result is “a rocket-fueled, turbocharged, laser-sharp IPA”.

Ikley Brewery Maiden Mary and Nowt Mary

The first non-alcoholic offering from Ilkley Brewery dropped in 2019. Known then as Virgin Mary, this pale ale has since been renamed Maiden Mary, and now has a milk stout stablemate, Nowt Mary. The former, brewed with a blend of US and New Zealand hops, and a combination of UK malts – the brewery recommends pairing it with salads and barbecues. Nowt Mary, a reimagining of the brewery’s Stout Mary in non-alc form, is described as having a deep bitterness, as well as a rich, thick mouthfeel. Best with pies and oysters, says Ilkley.

Bristol Beer Factory Clear Head

Not only doing some good for those looking to moderate their alcohol intake, but also doing its part for mental health, independent brewer Bristol Beer Factory donates a percentage of sales of its alcohol-free IPA Clear Head to Bristol-based charity Talk Club. The beer itself makes use of Citra and Mosaic hops, as well as lactose for body. The result, the brewery says, is a beer with sharp citrus, apple and stone fruits, leading to a crisp, dry finish. Unlike the majority on this list, Clear Head comes in a 440ml can.

Clear Head joins a number of interesting beers in Bristol Beer Factory’s range, including sessionable lager Infinity (4.6% ABV) and session IPA Laser Juice (4.2% ABV). 

Athletic Brewing Co Run Wild IPA

Dedicated alcohol-free brewer Athletic Brewing Co produces a wide variety of styles. One of its flagships, Run Wild, caters to IPA drinkers, with a blend of five hops from the northwest US that give it, according to the brewery, “an approachable bitterness to balance the specialty malt body”. Also in the range is a number of other IPAs, such as Free Wave, with Amarillo, Citra and Mosaic hops, and Lodge Life, made with cinnamon, vanilla and cacao nibs. There’s also golden beer Upside Down and extra dark All Out in the portfolio, among others.

Athletic Brewing Co originates from Connecticut in the US, and operates a second brewery in San Diego, California. The company claims that their brewery was the first of its kind, and that theirs are the only two alcohol-free dedicated facilities in the world. Athletic launched in the UK in 2021, and gained listings in Tesco last year.

Impossibrew Hazy Pale

A growing number of emerging non-alc beer brands are offering additional functional benefits through added ingredients. Among these is Impossibrew, which includes a blend of nootropics in its range of beers. The addition of its Social Blend, which includes L-theanine, ginseng, griffonia seed (providing 5-HTP) and vitamin B1, is said to have a relaxing effect, with claims that the beers offer “that 'one or two pint feeling', without hangovers”.

Impossibrew currently produces three beers, namely Hazy Pale, Lager and Vanilla Stout. These are available in 330ml and 440ml cans.

Small Beer Dark Lager

Some moderation-minded brewers are opting to reduce the alcohol in their beers, rather than omit it completely. Among these is London-based Small Beer, which claims to be the world's first dedicated small beer brewery. Not only taking inspiration from contemporary drinking trends, Small Beer looks to the past as well, to the days of Shakespeare and Chaucer, when lower-ABV beers were safer than drinking water.

Small Beer’s Dark Lager contains just 1% ABV, while the strongest beer in the range, Steam, clocks in at 2.7%. Its other beers include a lager, a session pale and an IPA.

Small Beer’s products aren’t just better for you, but good for the planet too – they’ve reduced the amount of water required to brew their beers, from industry-standard 8-10 pints of water per pint of beer, to just 1.5 pints of water for their beers. 

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