There was a 1950s advert which hailed beer as being, “The best long drink in the world,” and it’s an idea I think we should resurrect this year. The majority of British beer is already fairly low in alcohol – around four or five per cent by volume – so for those who feel better for cutting back at this time of the year there’s much to be said for swapping your wine for beer. Even better than your average ‘session beer’though are some tasty drops weighing in at 3.5% and under.
You might like to think of them as the new age of light ale. They are the perfect lunchtime pint/long drink, great for hot weather (when it comes) and a brilliantly virtuous post-Christmas tipple at a time when there always seems to be someone trying to make us feel guilty for enjoying a glass or two.
In case you’re worrying about what they taste like and expecting thin, watery nothings, I can assure you they don’t stint on flavour either. Each one of these is as flavoursome as a higher ABV brew – so there you have it. Cheers to the New Year!
‘Good things come in small packages’: Wiper and True, Bristol Small Beer (2.5%).
Despite its name an amazing amount of flavour is packed into this brew, so much you might not believe it’s so low in alcohol – but it is. An enticing aroma of melon, mango and apricot carries through to the taste in a wonderfully bittersweet beer.
‘Starring role’: Adnams, Suffolk Sole Star (2.8%).
Veterans of brewing tasty, traditional bitter, Adnams created this when the Government announced a duty cut for beers at 2.8% and under. Sole Star is in the mould of a classic English bitter with subtle caramel malt flavours and a decent bitterness from American hops.
‘Cult classic’: The Kernel, Bermondsey, London Table Beer (3.2%).
The idea of a craft beer at such a low ABV caused a lot of fuss when the Kernel first brewed it but has become a modern classic. A mango sorbet aroma gives way to a light and zesty beer that could work as an aperitif or perhaps pair nicely with creamy, herby dishes.
‘Modern pale’: Ilkley Brewery, West Yorkshire Mary Jane (3.5%).
This is an American-style pale ale – but don’t worry, pale ales were a British invention – with tropical fruit mousse character perfect for chasing away the winter blues.