In terms of aroma, flavour and texture, the production of low alcohol beers has finally surpassed the earlier days of lifeless, flat and uninspiring brews. The market’s demand for health-conscious, ultra-low alcohol beers, coupled with the competitive creativity of craft brewers looking to extend their range has resulted in a fantastic selection of flavour rich stouts, lagers and fresh-hopped summer ale styled beverages. We take a look at three of the best (plus a few more) new brews to hit the Australian market.

Big Drop Brewing Co. Galactic Milk Stout
0.5% alcohol/vol
375ml can

Big Drop’s Galactic Milk Stout has a deep, dark colour and pours with a foamy head; however, this is not maintained, appearing relatively flat in the glass.

Like the rich, dark malty flavours of a classic Australian stout – Coopers, for example – there are pronounced coffee/mocha aromas present and some grassy, hopped notes. However, the taste is impressive and presents nicely as a softly bittered stout, influenced, undoubtedly by Brambling Cross hops that, in this case, seems to deliver a flavour similar to honeycomb when combined with the chocolaty notes.

The Galactic Milk Stout is a great tasting product but could be improved by working on its texture to enhance and thicken its body and increase the volume and stability of the head.

Essentials Score: 3/5

Big Drop Brewing Co.’s new low alcohol beverages are aromatic and flavour rich

Big Drop Brewing Co. Paradiso IPA
0.5% alcohol/vol
375ml can

Big Drop Brewing Co. Paradiso IPA pours with a nice head a lovely golden colour in the glass that looks impressive; however, this may not be seen as you’ll likely be drinking from the can displaying a tropical leaf-inspired design.

The aromatics are similar to an Indian Pale Ale style, with tropical fruit fragrances balanced with grassy/hoppy aromas. Its mouthfeel is also true to form with a beautiful mid-weight style, larger-ish, but a touch lighter and easier to drink – so beer lovers, slam it down, guilt-free! There’s a good balance between grassy/hopped notes and bitterness that makes it seriously refreshing when chilled and consumed in warmer weather; or whenever your thirst needs quenching.

Thes Paradiso IPA is a much healthier alternative to drinking typically high volume alcohol IPA. However, considering just how good its flavour profile and mouthfeel is, we reckon you’ll have a hard time distinguishing it from the real thing.

Essentials Score: 3.5/5

Founded in 2018 by John Walker and Bill Shufelt, Athletic Brewing Co. has achieved a staggering 61% market share of the non-alcoholic craft beer market in the U.S.; they recently launched their products in Australia.

Athletic Brewing Co. Run Wild Non-Alcoholic IPA
Less than 0.5% alcohol/vol
375ml can

Pours with a steady foamy head; in the glass, it presents with a deep golden colour.

While the Run Wild IPA is a mid-strenth in terms of flavour. It is well-balanced and features fresh aromas of tropical fruit and fresh summer hops lifting from the glass. The body is an excellent medium weight with a rounded foam coating the palate. Compared to other craft IPA beers, this is most certainly on the lighter side in terms of bitterness and flavour strength, making it a high quality and nicely presented session beer.

This ale is easy drinking with a slightly bitter finish that complements its refreshing fruity scents.

Essentials Score 3/5

The Nort Pacific Ale is an aromatic gem, delivering an easy-drinking session ale, summer Australian style.

NORT Pacific Ale
Less than 0.5% alcohol/vol
330ml bottle

While this ale pours with little to no head, its colour is an appealing light amber. Fresh hopped aromas of tropical fruit and gentle grassy notes add charm; this, coupled with a fine consistent bead, make the NORT Pacific Ale one of the best in this lineup.

Being a low alcohol product, it’s surprising just how well this product stands up. It’s clean, refreshing and provides an overall mouthfeel and taste that is convincingly comparable to mid or higher strength fresh-hopped summer ales. We love it! Also fantastic for making beer batter. A versatile crowd-pleaser.

Essentials Score: 3.5/5

Athletic Brewing Co. Upside Dawn Non-Alcoholic Golden
Less than 0.5% alcohol/vol
375ml can

Athletic Brewing Co.’s non-alcoholic golden ale is only slightly deeper in colour than the relatively pale amber colour of NORT’s Pacific Ale. However, it manages to deliver a more foamy head when poured, but again there is low head retention. While the science of head creation in beer making is a complex subject to tackle, it’s likely that due to the proteins required to help bind bubbles together to form foam, the molecular balance between non-alcoholic brews and higher hopped/higher-alcohol volume beers seem to hinder the lower-alcoholic products; as noted in all beers listed in this article.

Heads and foam aside, the Upside Dawn Non-Alcoholic Golden is a brew aimed at perhaps a blander, commercial market. It has a minimised aroma – slight tropical notes at best and generally, is bitter in taste. There’s a coarseness to its mouthfeel, and its finish is similar to a VB. Perhaps more refreshing if chilled and slammed down on a hot summer’s day, but certainly not the leader of this pack. Regardless, it meets the demand for those that dislike the complexities of craft beers. While not everybody is a hop head, we still reckon this ale could be vastly improved.

Essentials Score: 2/5

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