“Svart/Hvit” is a non-alcoholic milk stout from Norway’s Nøgne Ø brewery. This review includes tasting notes plus info on stockists, calories, carbs, sugar and ingredients.
In most regions, the main disadvantage to creating a high-ABV drink is the higher tax rate.
In Norway, there’s another disadvantage – all drinks above 4.7% ABV (alcohol by volume) must be sold through a Government-run Vinmonopolet store. That’s why you won’t find spirits, wine and high-alcohol beers and ciders in a convenience store or supermarket. And why you can’t buy higher-strength alcoholic drinks in the evenings or on Sundays.
It’s also against the law to advertise alcohol in Norway. Imagine that.
This is reflected in Norwegian craft brewer Nøgne’s range, which now includes several non-alcoholic beers alongside its higher-ABV drinks – including a lime-infused pale ale and this “Svart/Hvit” milk stout.
The ingredients in this one are simple and traditional. The only grain type is malted barley, to go with the hops, yeast and water.
A milk stout, it also includes lactose (milk sugar) for additional sweetness. So it’s not suitable for vegans.
It’s not gluten-reduced so not suitable if you’re gluten free.
How much alcohol is in Svart/Hvit?
There’s no ABV highlighted on the bottle, but we can assume it comes in at less than 0.7% ABV to meet the Norwegian definition of NA beer.
Probably not one to get you anywhere near drunk, but it might be one to miss if you want a beer completely free of alcohol.
Calories, carbs and sugar
The lactose in this beer pushes up the calorie, carbohydrate and sugar content significantly. But hey, we need to treat ourselves now and again.
There are 28 calories and 7g of carbs per 100ml. All of that carb content is made up of sugar.
Flavours, appearance and mouthfeel
Svart/Hvit (which translates to “black/white” in Norwegian), pours jet black with a caramel – rather than white – foamy heady, with big soft bubbles.
The carbonation quickly calms but leaves a bouncy ring of foam.
The aroma is gorgeous and varied, featuring toffee, caramel, coffee, roasted barley and milk chocolate.
There’s also some fruit in there – raisin, plummy stone fruits and grapefruit – the grapefruit is presumably a bi-product of the yeast as it’s very similar to the flavours in beers that use a specific low-alcohol yeast.
The mouthfeel is also superb – heavy and soft, with light carbonation. Lovely.
The flavours on tasting would be dominated by the sweetness from the lactose, if the bitter flavours didn’t do such a good job of keeping it in check.
Coffee flavours lead the taste, with the toffee and caramel in support and the stone fruit flavours rounding things off at the end of each sip.
There’s a slightly tart lactic character, but it doesn’t ruin things.
The dry bitterness – which feels that it comes from the malts rather than hops – is lasting, contributing to the dry finish.
A near-perfect aroma and mouthfeel plus a great flavour puts Svart/Hvit up there with the best non-alcoholic stouts, despite some light fruity flavours that seem out of place.
But still an outstanding NA beer – but the high calorie and sugar content means you won’t want too many.