Lagers, stouts and hoppy pale ales are well represented in the world of non-alcoholic beer. However, if you prefer traditional bitters, you might struggle to find a non-alcoholic version on the shelves.
One of the closest non-alcoholic beers to a traditional bitter is “Without”, a beer produced by Suffolk’s St Peter’s Brewery.
St Peter’s brews two other non-alcoholic “Without” beers alongside this one – an organic version and a “Without Gold” version. The brewery also has a range of traditional-strength beers and a London pub, “The Jerusalem Tavern”.
Without launched in 2016, a little way before the recent boom in non-alcoholic beer brewing. The brewery’s owner John Murphy decided to create a non-alcoholic beer after a cancer diagnosis put paid to his drinking.
This was John’s second foray into the non-alcoholic beer industry – he was also involved in marketing Guinness’s alcohol-free beer “Kaliber” in the 1970s.
Kaliber doesn’t have a great reputation with beer drinkers. How does Without fare?
The beer is a mahogany colour and has a modest head that clings to the glass as you drink it.
The aroma is a little overpowering. It’s bready and yeasty, much like stale wholemeal bread. There’s also a slight chemical twang, which grows stronger the more you drink. In all, it smells like the air around a large brewery on a brewing day. There’s no signs of any hops in the aroma.
The beer has a good body in the mouth. There’s low carbonation, which makes it feel like a cask bitter. However, it feels quite greasy after a few sips.
The stale bread continues in the taste. Again, none of the hops comes through in the flavour. It tastes unfinished – more like a mug of malt drink than a beer.
There’s a very dry, overly bitter finish. I found it sickly after a few sips and struggled to finish the entire 300ml bottle.
I had high hopes for “Without”. Unfortunately though, it didn’t hit the spot.
There are too many strong flavours and too much bitterness. I found it almost undrinkable.
- Name: Without Original
- Brewery: St Peter’s Brewery
- Style: dark ale
- Alcohol content: 0.05%
- Calories: 90 (per 330ml)
- Ingredients: water, malt, yeast, hops
- Country: UK
- Dispense: bottle (330ml)
- Food pairing: poached salmon, roast pork, apple pie
- Available from: Amazon* and in store in some major supermarkets including Tesco*