Author: Malin Norman
It’s that time of year, the festive season is approaching and beer lovers are talking about the best Christmas beers to try. You might think of them as too sweet and perhaps too boozy, but they don’t have to be. In fact, you can indulge in some fabulous alcohol-free beers this winter, yet with great intensity and heaps of flavour, when you snuggle up on the sofa.
Christmas beers, also called winter warmers, are often of the stronger and sweeter kind, and spiced with typical seasonal spices such as cinnamon, cloves and vanilla. Intended to keep us warm during the cold months, they also pair easily with rich Christmas food, deliciously strong cheese or decadent desserts. However, you don’t have to go all in with the sweetness and the booze. There are plenty of cheerful alcohol-free options, with depth and flavour.
Excellent Big Drop Brewing in the UK is focusing on alcohol-free beer and has launched two new winter specials; Firesider Pumpkin Spiced Ale and Kinzig Gateau Stout (both listed below). Nick Worthington, Big Drop’s Commercial Director, says in a press release; “We loved developing these two beers because they push the boundaries of AF alchemy and are just perfect for the time of year. There’s now a certain expectation that our specials will be something out of the ordinary and these really deliver on that.” Other tasty brews for winter include Galactic Milk Stout, Off Piste Hazelnut Porter and Woodcutter Brown Ale. There certainly is a lot of goodness coming from this brewery!
If you prefer a hoppy Christmas, don’t despair as alcohol-free beers are doing brilliantly in this category too. For instance, US-based Athletic Brewing Co’s Free Way IPA was recently crowned Supreme Champion Beer at the International Beer Challenge (IBC) 2020, beating more than 500 competitors. For the first time in IBC’s history, a no and low alcohol beer was named the overall winner. In a statement, IBC Chairman Jeff Evans, says: “For many years, the No and Low-Alcohol section of the IBC judging has been a poor relation to the rest of competition. But no more!”
So whether you are a devoted hop-head or more into smooth, dark brews, or perhaps something in between, there are great alcohol-free beers on offer. Here are some tasty suggestions:
Firesider Pumpkin Spiced (0.5% ABV), Big Drop Brewing: this one will warm you up from the inside with seasonal spices such as cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. As so eloquently put by the brewery, “perfect for relaxing, feet up beside a glowing woodburner, after a long stroll through fallen Autumn leaves.”
Kinzig Gateau Stout (0.5% ABV), Big Drop Brewing: another winter special from Big Drop is this seductive stout with chocolate, dark cherry and soft aroma of vanilla. It will probably remind you of a Black Forest Gateau. How can you resist?
All Out Stout (0.4% ABV), Athletic Brewing: this pleasant stout with delicate coffee, bittersweet chocolate and cherry won bronze at the World Beer Awards 2020. According to the brewery, it was built for cold weather; ”We recommend enjoying by the fire after a long day on the slopes. Don’t hibernate this winter. Go All Out!”
Limbo Riesling (0.3% ABV), Limbo Raspberry (0.3% ABV) and Limbo Yuzu (0.3%), all brewed at De Proef in Belgium by Mikkeller: not all festive beers need to be of the dark kind, there are other choices such as this refreshing trio with a fruity and tart palate. And if you really like dark velvety brews, try their Beer Geek Flat White Low ABV (0.3% ABV), an oatmeal stout brewed with coffee.
Pictures: Big Drop Brewing, Athletic Brewing Co.