Our first-ever encounter with alcohol free beer was when my boyfriend Steve completed a triathlon race, where there was a finisher’s section set up at the end of the route for participants to sample products, including free beer!
Exhausted, sweaty, but feeling accomplished after his big race, Steve made a bee-line to the beer section, eager to gulp down a cold, frothy pint of his favourite beverage in the world. (He’s the aforementioned “Beer Lover” in the title of this post). Raising a toast with his pint of beer he proclaimed, “this is going to be the best beer I’ll ever have….cheers!”
Steve had already chugged half his victory drink, when my friend and I looked at him and said, “you know you’re drinking an alcohol free beer, right?”
We pointed at the tent above him. The European beer brand had a big “Alkoholfrei” sign above us, but as the writing was wrapped around the booth, all we could see was “Alkohol”.
“Awww, what!?” said Steve.
Regardless of the alcohol content, Steve still had another two “alkoholfrei” beers. It was probably for the best that he wasn’t drinking three traditional beers after a long and exhausting race. In any case, he could barely taste the difference. Steve was happy. And this was how alcohol free beer first got on our radar.
Introducing: Heineken 0.0 alcohol free beer
Fast forward a few years later and another European beer brand — Heineken — has released a “0.0%” alcohol-free version of their iconic pale ale. No better time than the beginning of the year to try to cut back on alcohol, right?! In a recent survey of young Vancouverites, 54% have participated in Dry January in the past or would be willing to give it a try.
At first, I thought this 6-pack of Heineken 0.0 we were gifted from the brand would sit in our fridge for an indefinite amount of time. Why would Steve gravitate towards alcohol-free beer, when we had regular options in our fridge? I believe, it came down to the fact that he enjoys the taste of beer, but deep down, he knows that too much alcohol is not good for health. Similar to Steve, 82% of young Vancouverites see improvements in health or wellness as the top benefit of reducing alcohol intake. Sure, regular beer gives you that boost of liquid courage, but regardless of the buzz, Steve actually enjoys the taste and “mouthfeel” of beer; a crisp but bitter flavour with a carbonated texture. The alcohol-free Heineken 0.0 has the same characteristic fruity notes as the original beer and the same quality ingredients minus the alcohol.
Why would anyone drink alcohol-free beer?!
We (mostly Steve) ended up finishing the entire 6-pack over a single weekend. Here were the three times we cracked open the Heineken 0.0:
- FRIDAY NIGHT BOARD GAMES: On Friday night, we had friends visit our place to play a few board games. They were driving home afterwards and didn’t want to drink. So Heineken 0.0 was something we offered them to try so they could have a beer with the rest of us, but not risk going over the alcohol driving limit on their drive home.
- SATURDAY MORNING GOLF: Watching sports and drinking beer go hand-in-hand…but what if you’re watching golf at 10am on a Saturday morning?! It’s probably not a healthy habit to grab for a traditional beer first thing in the morning, but Heineken 0.0 gave Steve an alcohol free way for him to enjoy.
- SUNDAY MORNING PANCAKES: We used Heineken 0.0 to make pancakes!! According to an article I read, “Pancakes make the ideal conduit for beer, as there are no other strong flavours to contend with. The short cooking time also means that most of the integrity of flavours stay intact.” I’m no beer tasting expert, but if Heineken’s flavour is known for having fruity notes, this should logically pair well with blueberry pancakes, right?! In my experience, adding beer or other carbonated beverages to your batter adds a fluffy lightness to the pancake texture. And hey, this wasn’t just a gimmick, they turned out better than our usual pancakes. The hoppy beer taste gave it an interesting flavour without the bitterness.
Although neither of us actively participated in Dry January, we did have an alcohol free weekend, thanks to Heineken 0.0. I’m not sure it would be the first option he goes for the next time he’s at the liquor store, but if you are a beer lover who want to cut back on alcohol but not on taste and stick with an iconic, reputable brand, Heineken 0.0 would be an excellent alternative to try out.