Cobra “Zero” is the non-alcoholic (0%) version of the brewery’s well-known lager. Get tasting notes and info on calories, carbs, sugar and ingredients, in this review.
A couple of things about Indian food in the UK that I’ve only recently learnt:
- Most “Indian” restaurants are Bangladeshi
- Cobra beer – a common sight in many curry houses – isn’t an Indian (or Bangladeshi) beer
Actually, point two is only partly correct. Although the company was set up in London, it was set Indian founders and brewed to an Indian recipe, initially in India before production moved to the UK in the late 90s.
So is this why it’s such a common sight in many UK Indian and Bangladeshi restaurants?
Yes and no. Co-founder Karan Bilimoria first had the idea for Cobra beer because he wanted a beer that paired well with Indian dishes. This was the late 1980s, where the only choice on the bar was gassy lager or heavy ale.
Marketed as a smoother, more balanced beer to drink with spicy food, Cobra soon found its way onto the back of restaurant menus throughout the UK. And the rest – it’s now sold across the world and partly owned by beer behemoth Molson Coors.
Cobra launched its non-alcoholic beer, “Zero’, as far back as 2005. I’m yet to see it in a curry house, but it’s widely available in the off-trade including at many major supermarkets.
Ingredients and alcohol content
Unlike the full-strength version of its flagship lager, Cobra Zero doesn’t contain adjuncts such maize and rice. Alongside water, its ingredients are malted barley, yeast, hops and modified hop products (where some of the chemicals in the hops, for example acids, have been removed).
The advertised alcohol content of Cobra Zero is 0% ABV, which means it’s under the detectable limit of 0.03%. The low to no alcohol content and the ingredients suggests the alcohol is removed after fermentation.
Calories, carbs and sugar
The ingredients and production process has resulted in a medium to high amount of calories for a non-alcoholic beer – 78 calories per 330ml bottle.
The carb and sugar content is also quite high – there are 18g of carbs and 11.5g of sugar in a 330ml bottle.
Appearance, flavour and mouthfeel
Amber in colour with a modest head of foam, Cobra Zero looks the part when poured.
It has an odd whiff about it though. I sensed cabbage and oddly, raw beef. It smelt more like a stew than a beer. A cleaner, malty aroma sits behind the stewiness.
There’s a fair bit of fizz but the mouthfeel is smooth. It has a medium body, helped by a syrupy texture.
The flavour isn’t as odd as the aroma but it’s rather sweet and bland, lacking any bitterness.
First up, there’s some sweet lemon flavours. Lovely. But these are soon joined by a sour, corny taste.
The aftertaste has a smidgen of a medicinal taste, like a root beer. There’s still no bitterness by the time you’ve taken you last sip, leaving it a little too much on the sweet side.
Cobra Zero is an ideal drink to have with spicy food, if only for the spices to add some excitement where the flavours let it down.
Overall, too sweet, too bland and too odd an aroma.