The recent reduction in alcohol limits for drivers in Scotland and health advice that we should all aim to have at least one alcohol-free day each week, have fuelled renewed interest in non-alcoholic beers.
It used to be that non-alcoholic beers were very much a niche market dominated by one brand name – Clausthaler. I remember it was a disappointment, Rather insipid, it had an unpleasant malty aftertaste.
Fast forward to summer 2015 and the new Scottish 50mg alcohol limit for drivers means a much greater interest in non-alcoholic drinks.
Until recently, if I wanted to avoid alcohol (be it for driving or to have an alcohol-free day) I opted for fruit juice or soft drinks. But, it was seldom a good choice. The tradition of wine or beer with food has been established for a reason – the flavours complement the food better than sweet fruit juices or soft drinks.
The spur to give non-alcoholic beers a second chance was a newspaper article that came out praising Becks Blue. It has a pretty clean taste hitting most of the right notes for a German-style beer, but there is just a hint of that rather unattractive malty aftertaste.
Soon after, I discovered that one of my favourite beer brands, Erdinger, produced Erdinger Alkoholfrei and it is widely available at the major supermarkets. Erdinger Alkoholfrei retains much of the flavour of their traditional beers and also has very little of that curious aftertaste that spoils the enjoyment of so many alcohol-free beers.
Last week, as I grabbed an Erdinger Alkoholfrei from the beer fridge, the notion flashed into my mind that it would be great to see Budweiser Budvar produce a good non-alcoholic beer.
The next day we were out for lunch with friends in the Roos Leap, the Australian-themed restaurant beside Montrose Golf Club. Having driven to Montrose, we dutifully asked if they had non-alcoholic beer. Yes, we said, Becks Blue would be fine. Minutes later our host returned to apologise that the Becks Blue was finished but would we like non-alcoholic Budvar? A bit spooky given that thought the night before!
The non-alcoholic Budvar, like the Erdinger Alkoholfrei, gets pretty close to the ideal of providing the full flavour of a great beer, without the tainting aftertaste.
The good news is that I now have another favourite non-alcoholic beer. The bad news is that I cannot find a stockist. A search online, ironically, brings up a UK website that is broken and a number of online stockists in Australia.
So, if anyone knows where it is on sale, I would be glad to hear from you. I will publish details of any stockists here on AberdeenDining.co.uk.