It’s December and halls all over the country are being decked with boughs of holly. Stockings are being hung by the chimney with care. The RIDE program is camping out at major intersections to ensure you're good and sober in your one horse open sleigh.
Back when I took the Smart Serve course, we were given a chart that would explain blood alcohol levels. The default reaction among university students was to figure out what the maximum number of possible drinks would be. Maybe it’s age or just the fact that I’m too lazy to look things up in an actuarial table, but I’ve come to the conclusion that no amount of alcohol is acceptable if you’re going to be behind the wheel of a two ton steel behemoth. It’s one of the reasons why I don’t have a car.
If you find yourself hosting a holiday celebration, you might consider stocking some non-alcoholic beer for the designated drivers in your midst. Not everyone is going to want to drink your Aunt Edna’s famous eggnog. Besides, non-alcoholic beer has come a long way.
It turns out that removing the alcohol from beer does interesting things to the flavour profile. The unfermented sugars come out higher in the mix, meaning that the hint of grain you might have gotten on the aroma turns into grain tea. Since many of the brands that offer a de-alcoholized version are German, the bottles are green glass and the hops skunk out because of the UV light exposure. In some cases, the sour lager yeast finish becomes accentuated.
Like any other type of beer, you’re best off drinking a non-alcoholic beer that comes in a can or a brown bottle. On that basis, I can recommend the following:
Weihenstephaner Original Alkoholfrei tastes like what it is; a Munich Helles Lager with the alcohol stripped out of it. The balance between hops and malt remains intact and the pillowy white head certainly looks the part. Most importantly, it retains substance in its flavour. It feels about right.
Krombacher Weizen approximates the flavours of a full alcohol Hefeweizen very nicely, with the typical banana and clove aromas. If anything, the slightly tart wheaty finish is enhanced by the lack of alcohol making the contrast between aroma and flavour more interesting.
Some people continue to like the skunky green glass hop character. If that’s you, then the best option is Clausthaler Classic, which manages to create a slightly gingery nose and moderately bitter finish.
Best of all, you can have these non-alcoholic beers delivered from Premiumnearbeer.com. Shipping costs less than a taxi and the entire process is less intrusive than allowing one of your guests to nap on your couch.
Jordan St.John writes about beer at saintjohnswort.ca. This week he’s writing about the perennial Christmas favorite, the taco.