Think back to the last time you and some friends went to the pub, or had a social gathering including drinks. Did you all have the same drink, or choose something different?
I’m going to guess it’s the latter.
And that’s because we all have different preferences for taste – there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to something so personal.
But in this article, I am going to try and address the question of what non-alcoholic beer tastes like, in comparison to their alcoholic counterparts. Wish me luck!
Why Do Non-Alcoholic Beers Taste Different?
The main reason for the difference in taste from beers to non-alcoholic beers is two fold.
Firstly, alcohol has a distinct taste (and mouthfeel) that we immediately associate with beer. But secondly, to remove alcohol in the production of non-alcoholic beers, the method used is different. As we have covered in our article ‘How is Non-Alcoholic Beer Made?‘, the process involves removing alcohol at the end of the production, or limiting the production during.
Either method can result in destruction of flavour and aroma compounds, which effect the taste of non-alcoholic beer.
This results in beer that can taste watery, flat, and even sweet.
This can be made worse by the addition of ingredients such as lactose, fruit, syrup, ascorbic acid, carbon dioxide, lactobacillus, colourings, flavourings which create an artificial taste.
Something that leaves a negative taste in the mouth.
Will The Taste of Non-Alcoholic Beers Improve?
I have never produced a beer (non-alcoholic or alcoholic) in my life. But from what I am seeing in terms of production methods and research – as well as tasting a range of non-alcoholic beers – I strongly believe so.
The reason for the change of taste – besides the lack of alcohol – is the brewing methods used and the ingredients that are then used to try and replicate the flavour and taste that is lost.
But recently, researchers at the University of Copenhagen published some great news in relation to alcoholic-beer production methods.
They identified that the method of heating alcoholic beer to remove the alcohol results in the aroma from the hops being lost. Because taste and smell are so strongly linked, we actually perceive it as a change in taste.
In response, they have produced a group of small molecules called monoterpenoids which can then be added to non-alcoholic beers to give back any flavours lost in the manufacturing process!