Last week we went to a Nirvana Brewery tasting evening at 1 Lombard Street to learn more about the company and taste some of their brews(!)
FACT ALERT: 'no alcohol' means less than 0.05% abv and 'low alcohol' is 1.2% abv or less.
Nirvana's East London brewery is the only in the UK which is totally dedicated to making no/low alcohol beer (they range between 0.0% and 0.5%). Their brewing techniques vary between beers, but they only use methods that create a minimal level of alcohol in the first place, rather than techniques that siphon off alcohol post-brewing. This approach keeps their beer balanced and preserves its more delicate flavours.
When founder Becky first began her mission to create truly tasty non-alcoholic beer, she headed to brewing's Mecca: Deutschland. There, a 500-year-old Purity Law means beers can only contain hops, barley, water and yeast, which means they've perfected the art of non-dodgy low alcohol brewing.
It was at a small brewery just above Bavaria that they found the best non-alcy brew of their trip. It was actually their first stop of the trip, so they (Becky and her brother-in-law) spent a couple of weeks sipping inferior competitors before heading back to secure the original's recipe.
It's winter at the time of writing and the poor soul penning this post has inflicted Dry January on herself for 2023. So perhaps it's the withdrawal from Guinness, but my favourite Nirvana beer has actually changed this month. It used to be their lager, which is indisputably yummy - German style, golden and biscuity with a sweet aftertaste. But since getting to know their brews better this month, I've converted to their stout. It's definitely rich and dark, with distinctly chocolatey notes, but it's not overpoweringly heavy. At the tasting evening they mixed it with pineapple juice (gasp) to make a surprisingly delicious cocktail.
People who drink alcohol are really scared of non-alcoholic beer. TBH, I think fairly so. Brands like L*cky S*int (which is weirdly prevalent in pubs) have produced some foul liquids that get touted as alternatives to beer. Thank God for Nirvana, who are constantly reviewing their recipes and driving innovation in the non-alcoholic beer industry. As British society begins to wake up to the potential danger alcohol can be to some folk, to accommodate for less booze-centric cultures and to spawn a new health-conscious generation grow up keener to take a few nights of drinking in the week, it's good to know you can still sit back with a top-quality beer of an eve! I for one will still be drinking them in February, and that says a lot.