top of page
Search

Ditching the Booze: My (almost) Dry January Journey - Testing out Non-Alcoholic Options


Have you ever considered going on a #Non-Alcoholic Beer Tour? Well, I have! At least most of the time, as a beer tour guide, barkeeper, and brewery employee it's basically impossible to stay completely dry for a whole month, but I gave it my best. So as the dry winds of January swept through Zurich, I embarked on this exciting journey and discovered a whole new world of NA (Non-Alcoholic) beers. So I decided to test many of the available NA options on the market and review them below. But first, let me tell you about my personal point of view on the topic and how it evolved during this month's experience.


I have always been someone who would rather skip beers completely before I would drink an NA beer. I remember the last time I had a full glass (or rather cup) of NA beer was at a European Cup football game (Switzerland : Albania, we won 1:0) because the UEFA didn't allow alcohol in the stadiums and Coke and football just don't work that well together. Since this day in 2016, I've been really opposed to NA beers because for me they just were not worth the calories (fun fact, NA beers actually have significantly fewer calories than regular ones).


Traditionally, Non-Alcoholic beers were often considered a boring alternative, a compromise for those looking for a healthier lifestyle or to avoid alcohol completely. However, my tasting notes reveal a new narrative, one where NA beers are not just substitutes but contestants in their own right. In Switzerland, a lot of breweries used to produce NA beers only for marketing reasons. As the law forbids certain types of alcohol ads, many #industrial breweries created NA options to be able to reach an even wider audience. This means these beers usually were, to put it mildly, not brewed at the highest quality but rather to serve a purpose that had nothing to do with their aroma profile.


Most craft brewers on the other hand are brewing NA beers with the same dedication and creativity as their alcoholic counterparts. It's amazing how much the taste and variety of NA beers have improved over the years, and I believe it's a great way to stay healthy while still enjoying a nice cold beer. I have to mention that in my test, I tasted both big industrial and small independent breweries and both had better and worse options. What stands out with the craft beer options is the variety of beer styles, which definitely helped to make those booze-free beers more approachable. Especially #sours and #IPAs are usually a great way to improve the NA beer experience, as both hop bitterness and acidity help to balance out their usually really sweet flavor profile.


Looking beyond Dry January, I hope that more people will start to see non-alcoholic beers as a choice rather than a necessity. And to all the breweries out there, keep up the great work in enhancing these styles for a broader audience. I, for one, will stock up on NA options to always have one available when I need a clear mind. Not to mention they are often a great alternative to soft drinks when it comes to your calorie intake and flavorwise.


Cheers to the evolving world of NA beers!


 

My Reviews:


Some of the beers in our test


Here are my reviews for the 20 NA. Beers I tried last month, please be aware that this is my personal opinion/taste. All of the beers were of great quality, so you might want to try them yourself. There was only one exemption which had clear off-flavors.



Flavor/Aroma: Fruity, surprisingly dry, nicely balanced.

Balance: 4.5/5

Repurchase Appeal: 5/5

Overall: 4.5/5


Flavor/Aroma: Really close to a regular lager/light lager, slightly watery, subtle nose.

Balance: 3.5/5

Repurchase Appeal: 4/5

Overall: 3.8/5


Dr. Gabs - Placebo IPA:

Flavor/Aroma: Sweet, peach, candy, yogurt.

Balance: 2/5

Repurchase Appeal: 2/5

Overall: 2/5


Flavor/Aroma: Slightly fruity/lemony nose, caramel, unfermented wort, biscuity.

Balance: 3/5

Repurchase Appeal: 2.5/5

Overall: 2.5/5


Schützengarten - Migros NON IPA:

Flavor/Aroma: Beery, hay, grassy nose, vegetal, DMS off flavor, corn palate.

Balance: 1/5

Repurchase Appeal: 1/5

Overall: 1/5


Brauhaus Riegele - Liberis 2+3 IPA:

Flavor/Aroma: Subtle grass, hay nose, grainy, sweet palate.

Balance: 2.5/5

Repurchase Appeal: 2/5

Overall: 2/5


Lägerebräu - Stratos NEIPA:

Flavor/Aroma: Super nice mango, tropical nose, fruity palate.

Balance: 3/5

Repurchase Appeal: 4.5/5

Overall: 4/5


Põhjala - Prenzlauer 0 Sour:

Flavor/Aroma: Super fruity, raspberry, nice acidity, dry.

Balance: 4/5

Repurchase Appeal: 4/5

Overall: 4/5


Kitchen Brew - Windstill Cacao Porter:

Flavor/Aroma: A weird combo with peppermint, overpowers chocolate & malt characters.

Balance: 1/5

Repurchase Appeal: 2/5

Overall: 2/5


St. Laurentius - Clear Your Mind IPA:

Flavor/Aroma: Quite sweet, nice balance with bitter hops, unfermented wort, grainy.

Balance: 3/5

Repurchase Appeal: 3/5

Overall: 3/5


Zeer - Nina IPA:

Flavor/Aroma: Fruity nose, cardboard notes, nice bitterness, balanced.

Balance: 4/5

Repurchase Appeal: 3/5

Overall: 3.5/5


Flavor/Aroma: Gooseberries, tropical fruit, sweeter than Lust For Life.

Balance: 4/5

Repurchase Appeal: 4/5

Overall: 4/5


Flavor/Aroma: Unfermented wort, spicy, subtle aroma profile.

Balance: 2.5/5

Repurchase Appeal: 3/5

Overall: 3/5


Flavor/Aroma: Nicely hoppy, grapefruit and pine, light body, not too sweet.

Balance: 4.5/5

Repurchase Appeal: 5/5

Overall: 4.5/5


Põhjala - Tundra IPA:

Flavor/Aroma: Hoppy, citrus, watery, no finish, medium body.

Balance: 2/5

Repurchase Appeal: 2/5

Overall: 2/5


Lola - IPA:

Flavor/Aroma: Hoppy, old-school, Westcoast style IPA, good body, great beer.

Balance: 4.5/5

Repurchase Appeal: 5/5

Overall: 4.5/5


Chopfab Boxer - Bleifrei Lager:

Flavor/Aroma: Unfermented wort, sugary, no aftertaste.

Balance: 1/5

Repurchase Appeal: 2/5

Overall: 2/5


Flavor/Aroma: Awesome chocolaty nose, coffee, high drinkability.

Balance: 5/5

Repurchase Appeal: 4/5

Overall: 4/5


Two Chefs Brewing - Funky Falcon Pale Ale:

Flavor/Aroma: Fruity, peachy, a bit watery, a bit empty on the finish.

Balance: 2.5/5

Repurchase Appeal: 3/5

Overall: 3/5


Athletic - Run Wild IPA:

Flavor/Aroma: Too sweet, unfermented wort, grassy, citrusy.

Balance: 2/5

Repurchase Appeal: 3/5

Overall: 3/5


Overall my favorite beer in the test was also the first one I tried, the BRULO Lust For Life IPA. If you want to read more about my favorites, check out our blog article: Top 3 Best Alcohol-Free Brews to Try for Dry January 2024.


You're wondering how NA beers are made? Subscribe to our blog and stay tuned for an article all about the technical aspects of NA beer.


Which are your favorite NA beers? Let us know which other brews we should taste in the comments below or on Instagram.


Cheers,


Your Zurich Beer Tour Guides

20 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page