For various reasons, I have lately found myself investigating non-alcoholic beers: basically looking for one as tasty as the better alcoholic offerings. So far, my success has been limited. I find this a bit odd, given that the only people likely to buy non-alcoholic beer are those who (a) have a considerable fondness for beer but (b) don’t want to drink the alcoholic form, for whatever reason. As such, you would expect the de-alcoholized offerings to be of a premium variety; those I have found so far have been largely sub-par.
Of the three I have tried so far, unambiguously the worst is Kaliber, which is produced by the St. James’s Gate Brewery. The makers of Guiness certainly have not distinguished themselves with this tasteless, watery offering. Much better than Kaliber, though still somewhat lacking, is the de-alcoholized version of Beck’s. It definitely lacks something of the original, but it is passable. Quite possibly, my familiarity with the normal version of this brew makes the de-alcoholozed version seem worse in comparison.
The best option I have found so far is the President’s Choice ‘Red Brew.’ It is both the cheapest and the tastiest de-alcoholized beer I’ve tried, costing just $7 for 12 cans. The Beck’s, which tastes significantly worse than the PC brew, costs about $12 for 6 bottles – as much as the highly taxed liquor store version. Served cold, the PC brew has a pretty strong and pleasing flavour, suitable for summer work-night barbecues, and the like. It cannot touch quality alcoholic beers – like the Unibroue and McAuslan offerings – but it is at least a respectable beverage.
Are there any other varieties people would recommend? I am not bothered about whether they are actually 0% alcohol (like the Beck’s) or 0.5% (like the PC Red).
[Update: 5 November 2009] Thanks to everyone who provided additional information below. It’s good to see that so many other people are interested in finding tasty non-alcoholic beers. Please keep the suggestions coming.