I must point out before you read on – I will never write a review of beer, coffee or music unless I’ve drank or listened to it. That might seem obvious, but some people will just aimlessly write the popular opinion and get a load of web visits and hits. That isn’t what we’re here to do – so whilst I know full well, there may be better IPAs out there right now, this is our view, our opinion and I’d love to hear your alternative options over on Twitter.
Now that’s out of the way, it’s onto the second edition of our Lo/No series looking at our favourite beers in certain styles. Last time we looked at lagers, and this week, we’re exploring our favourite low alcohol Indian Pale Ales.
What is a Lo/No IPA?
So in short, it’s an Indian Pale Ale that is either 0.05% or 0.5%. We’ve outlined the different processes over on our main landing page, but basically it has to either have no, or low, amounts of alcohol and be considered an IPA by the brewer. We’ll be doing our top five “Pale Ales” separately, but if the beer has been branded an IPA, we’re considering them here.
Are they as good as the real thing?
With IPAs, compared to lagers and darker beers, there’s a bit less to hide behind. The craft beer revolution has seen more and more drinkers become used to what a good IPA tastes like so creating a Lo/No alternative isn’t easy. It needs to taste boozy, juicy, hazy and everything in between. The good news is, many of the big breweries in the UK and Europe have been trying to perfect this for a few years now whether it’s Thornbridge, Tiny Rebel, Mikkeller, To Ol or Nogne.
There are some incredible Alcohol Free only breweries as well that enter this race for the Top Five; Big Drop, Drop Bear and Nirvana namely, making this a tough choice, but we’ve done it!
The Top Five
1. Mikkeller Weird Weather IPA – 0.3%
When you pick up any beer from a brewery like Mikkeller, they’re almost always on the back foot because you expect it to be good. What didn’t help in this scenario is I drank this beer after a session on Verdant’s new beers and a couple of stouts so this shouldn’t have matched up against them. But it did and that’s why it makes it to number one on this list.
It’s floral, it tastes like an alcoholic NEIPA and has that piney taste you’d expect from a hazy IPA. It has a nice sweetness, but not too overpowering. There’s a nice body from the flaked oats giving it a typical IPA mouth-feel rather than feeling thin like many do. It’s not overly fizzy and my only critique is it isn’t overly tropical which I’d expect; but it’s a great beer. Not just a great low alcohol beer, a great beer.
2. Vandestreek Playground IPA – 0.5%
This one is so, so full of flavour. I have to admit I didn’t think flavour like this was possible in a low alcohol beer. Hopped with Mosaic, Citra and Cascade, this is packed with tropical and citrus flavours, and is great on the nose too. Unlike the Mikkeller above which doesn’t punch you in the face with the hops, this one absolutely does and it’s great.
It pours much darker than most low alcohol beers which helps with the illusion and it holds it’s creamy head for a while. This IPA is unfiltered which really lends itself to having a smooth, thick texture, rarely found in low alcohol beers. This is simply top quality brewing – unlike many in the market (like the three below) this feels like a new beer, not just a clone of typical IPAs and I think it’s fantastic.
3. Big Drop Paradiso IPA – 0.5%
Big Drop, for me, have really improved their brewing and their branding over the last 12 months. When I first tried their stout I thought it was thin, watery and it put me off their other beers, but I gave them a chance with their branding shift and I’m glad I did.
Their Paradiso IPA is a Citra IPA and it is hopped to the brim meaning the aroma, taste and aftertaste screams citrus fruit. There’s a reason this beer has won so many awards and accolades, it stands up against IPA s at the 3-4% mark; five hops go into this brew, Chinook, Cascade, Simcoe, Citra and Columbus giving it huge flavour, and the addition of lactose makes this one really drinkable. Good work Big Drop!
4. Tiny Rebel Club Tropica IPA – 0.5%
This is the most controversial inclusion – I’m well aware of this and I’ll be the first to say, if you compare like for like with the alcoholic version (which I’ve done) no it isn’t as good.
But judging this as a low alcohol tropical IPA, it does everything I’d expect it to. It’s fruity, has a good texture, full of mango, pineapple and passion fruit flavours from the Citra, Simcoe and Mosaic and it’s just awesome. It has oats and lactose so doesn’t lose the mouth-feel from the alcoholic version and they’ve done a very good job here.
5. Brew Dog Hazy AF IPA – 0.5%
This NEIPA, based on their Hazy Jane beer, is Brewdog’s stellar AF beer by some margin. Those flaked oats, prevalent in the beers above, give it a really nice texture and creaminess Cascade, Chinook, Citra and Simcoe are used to make this a hop-forward low ABV beer.
This beats the likes of Punk AF or Raspberry Blitz due to the fact it’s pumped with these hops, those oats mentioned above, but importantly the lactose adds a new dimension; this means it’s not watery, or too fizzy compared to the other beers in the Brewdog range.
I’ve been wanting a good bitter, piney, tropical non-alcoholic beer from these guys for a while and they’ve finally delivered with this one!
You can buy all of the above at the two below stockists!
- Coast Beer Co Hazy IPA
- Thornbridge “Zero Five”
- Braxzz “Rebel IPA”