Let’s be honest, until fairly recently the quality of zero and low alcohol beers have been variable to say the least. Some are good, some are passable and others are about as inviting as a bowl of cold dishwater.
A few weeks ago we were sent three bottled beers from Hogs Back Brewery, based in Tongham, Surrey, who celebrated 30 years in business in 2022.
Two of the bottles were pale ales: Little Swine 0.5% ABV and Little Swine 2.8% ABV; the third was a bottle of Utopia, the company’s 30th anniversary brew.
However, given my experience of low and no alcohol beers the jury was out until the beers had been sampled, although the confident press release heralding their arrival of the Little Swines was full of promise.
But, borrowing a phrase from a certain motoring presenter-turned farmer, it was good news. Little Swine 0.5% ABV was full of flavour, depth and character from the first sip to the last drop.
Here is a confident low alcohol beer (technically a zero alcohol beer) that doesn’t have to try to impress and has nothing to prove. In a blind test I think that most consumers would struggle to identify this beer as being a low alcohol brew.
At 2.8% ABV the stronger Little Swine is still a low alcohol beer, but it was equally well rounded and enjoyable to the bottom of the glass. The citrussy nose gave way to a hearty hop finish, the result of using four hop varieties in the brewing process.
Compared to the much strong Utopia beer, which weighed in at 6% ABV, the Little Swines were little only in name. They are full of flavour and character, and here at Hand Crafted Drinks Magazine we congratulate Hogs Back Brewery for producing two fabulous new beers that suit the more health conscious consumer, but they can also be enjoyed by anyone who appreciates a fine beer.
Hogs Back Brewery has managed to produce low and no alcohol beers that are virtually indistinguishable from their higher ABV counterparts and in this respect there is no compromise.
But let’s not forget Utopia.
This 6% ABV Utopia 30th was a one-off, limited edition, bottle-conditioned celebration of the company’s successful three decades of brewing expertise and in this respect we were privileged and very lucky to have sampled what is, or was, a rare treat.
It was a delighted drink; full bodied, golden and packed with hops. There were citrus and tropical notes, which gave a refreshing, but hearty, finish.
With the market for low and zero alcohol drinks increasing year-on-year, this can only be good news for companies like Hogs Back Brewery who are producing fabulous low and no alcohol beers, in their case, which are set to become even more popular.
For more information visit their website