Given my hatred of doctored low fat/low sugar/mid strength/etc foods and drinks, I’m not a likely candidate for an alcohol free beer. Skim milk = gross. Session IPA = waste of time. Salt free butter = missing the salt. But let’s call it a preference rather than a blindspot, and I’m always willing to experiment. So when this Mornington Free Pale Ale lobbed onto the doorstep I was at least optimistic. This might be the first alcohol-free beer to taste ok, especially given that some of the Mornington Peninsula brewery products are tasty!
My hopes were dashed.
Again, the issue is that you can’t replicate the same finish and mouthfeel that alcohol gives. This looked correct, with a golden yellow colour, some hop and malt characters on the nose. But there’s also this estery note too that had me thinking about those little fragrant trees you hang from your rear-vision mirror . This tastes sweet too, although that’s more a perception thing, as I don’t believe it’s technically sweet. That sensation translates into a finish that seems candied, and not bitter fresh like you want in a refreshing pale ale.
It felt, instead, like what beer would taste like if you had to recreate it from memory in a lab, and someone went too hard on some of the aromatic compounds.
I’m not going to write-off the category based on this sample, but in this context, if I couldn’t drink an alcoholic beer, I’d rather down a Warragamba highball than this confected, not beer. No stars. 0.5% alcohol. I wouldn’t buy again.
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I’ve not tried this one yet, but have tried a few of the non alcoholic beers that have popped up in recent times and I agree that they tend to lack something on the finish. I think it might be harder trying to do a non alcoholic hop forward beer. The Heaps Normal probably comes closest, but the ones I actually prefer are the Upflow Stout which is in the dry Irish style and the Holgate Love All which is a more malt driven English style.
I do drink session IPAs, particularly over summer – The Akasha Little Smith and the Bridge Road Little Bling are the ones I tend to go to. The Little Bling is pretty malty for a 3.4% beer.
It’s probably worth pointing out that Mornington Peninsula Brewery is just a label these days too. It’s part of Tribe and will be made in NSW.