Alcohol Free Ale

Finding a diamond in the rough or just a needle in a haystack may be easier than finding an excellent-tasting alcohol free ale!

Alcohol free ale

With Christmas finally over and a New Year beginning, Dry January is an unwelcome resolution to the Iron Bar household. However, due to ill health over Christmas, I haven’t drunk alcohol since Boxing Day, so I thought id give it a whirl.
Until recently, the market for alcohol-free beers was very small. Everyone can remember Kaliber lager or St Christopher lager, the latter of which wasn’t that bad.


Now, however, the market has exploded. There are literally hundreds of Alcohol-Free (AF) craft ales, lagers, and even a few ciders to choose from. But how do you choose? Many mainstream breweries have jumped on the bandwagon and produced an AF brand of their most popular drinks. Think Shipyard, Doom Bar, Becks Lager, etc.. etc.

Not everyone wants an AF Lager, especially if you’re an Ale drinker

The most popular AF brand at the moment is Heineken. Not surprising as they have a massive marketing campaign for it backed up by one of the biggest breweries in Europe.
As it goes, Heineken 0% is good, but if you would typically drink craft or real ale, drinking an AF lager could be the final straw.

We have been looking for a good tasting (I would make do with OK tasting) craft ale for a long time so that the designated driver has more choices than just soft drinks or water.
We are fortunate at the Iron Bar that we have some great shops that specialise in Non-Alcoholic Beers and Spirits.
One of these is a small shop in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, known as “Dry”. They have a wide range of AF craft beers, including IPA’s, Porter’s, stouts, and Lagers. They also stock a small selection of AF spirits, including an AF Aperol substitute called ANON. Many of the AF beers are also Vegan or Gluten Free.

Taste Testing

It was here that we found ourselves on Saturday buying a range of IPA’s with the intention of finding a worthy contender to populate the AF section of the Iron Bar’s stocklist.
We are after a beer that doesn’t look like dirty puddle water when poured. And if it could taste remotely like a full-strength IPA, it would be a major bonus.
Dry always have a couple of beers you can try before you buy. This week we were tempted by Birmingham Brewing Co. Sober Brummie, which was a good-tasting beer. Still, I thought the bitterness lingered on the palate for too long, and you wouldn’t want more than one or two.

The second Beer was made by Only With Love Brewery and called Juicy AF Pale Ale. It tasted great with a good whack of mango on the palate; it’s a great beer full of body and taste. However, it is better to drink it out of the can as the appearance of the Beer looks like an orange muddy puddle.

Alcohol free ale juicy AF
Alcohol free ale - Clear Head

Then, we found our needle in a haystack. An outstanding IPA from Bristol Beer Factory called Clear Head at 0.5% abv. Being gluten-free is a lovely addition to our bar.
Clear Head only uses two hop varieties from the US, Mosaic and Citra. This, along with added lactose, gives a creamy sweetness with citrus, apple, and stone fruit flavours and a crisp, dry finish.

It also looks good when poured, not perfectly clear, but good enough for me.
This will be a great addition to our bar menu and give our non-drinkers more choice when they come to the bar.

Happy New Year, and Here’s to a great 2023.

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Based in Ironbridge, The Iron Bar services Shropshire, Midlands, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, and surrounding areas.

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