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Raising the bar: low-alcohol and no-alcohol beer

Published on September 4, 2018
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Low-and no-alcohol beer is a fast-growing trend but does the lack of booze affect the flavour? We asked Lou Treseder of Driftwood Spars in St Agnes

driftwood spars

Alcohol content is not really the point of beer, according to Lou, who says: ‘The early beers, such as those consumed by Ancient Egyptians after a hot day pyramid building, were probably fairly low in alcohol but high in nutrition.

‘Booze in beer is produced by the reaction between sugars and yeast during fermentation. The sugars come from the malt during the process of mashing.

‘The more malt you use, the more sugars are extracted and the more alcohol you create. So high-malt beers are often sweeter as well as more boozy. Because of this, hops are added to balance the sugar with bitterness. But in a great beer you shouldn’t actually taste the alcohol as it should be balanced – not too sweet and not too dry.

‘The alcohol content does influence how beer tastes and can tell you what to expect from the flavour, as well as having an impact on the overall body and mouthfeel.

‘However, it’s a myth that a low-alcohol beer will have no flavour or taste “thin”. Clever use of hop varieties, with a range of flavours – from floral to fruity – as well as bitterness, can enhance the mouthfeel and pack a mountain of flavour into a beer with a low ABV.’ We’ll raise a glass to that.

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