Birra Moretti, my current go-to draught beer if I am on night out, is a quality golden-looking lager purporting to have Italian heritage (but who really know these days) “brewed with passion and the finest quality ingredients” – said with hand gestures and an accent, you can almost believe it. Go on their website and you’ll likely be more convinced – here’s their history as written by their marketeers.

Birra Moretti is 4.6% alcohol and brewed from a special blend of hops to create a sessionable lager with some hoppy and fruity notes and a slight bitter aftertaste. It certainly tastes more bitter than its zero-% equivalent. Ingredients are water, malted barley, maize, those hop and hop extract. It comes in 38 kcal per 100ml.

Birra Moretti Zero is slightly sweeter, distinctively fruitier and actually more complex in flavour than the normal golden beer. It did leave me wondering if I’d left some washing up liquid in my beer glass since the Heineken experiment. It’s a skinnier proposition with only 20 kcal per 100ml, so 66 kcal per bottle. Less than a two-finger Kit-Kat, and this time I might prefer the beer over the chocolate bar. No really I’m serious.  

Ingredients are water, barley malt, hops, hop extract and natural flavouring. So there’s no maize in it and there’s the addition of that enigmatic ingredient again ‘natural flavouring’. In UK law for the flavouring to be described as natural, it must be 100% derived from natural sources. But then this leads you on to defining natural sources. I can think of plenty of things like a dog’s butthole or the brewers crotch that might be considered natural sources, but I certainly don’t want anything derived from either to end up in my drink. We wouldn’t have this problem in Germany who by law limit what can be put into beer.

In the US, regulations define natural flavours (or ‘flavors’ as they incorrectly say) as those that ‘derive their flavour chemicals from plant or animal sources, including fruit, meat, fish, spices, herbs, roots, leaves, buds or bark that are distilled, fermented or otherwise manipulated in a lab’. Manipulated in a lab. Oh boy.

Anyway, I won’t let it bother me. Birra Moretti Zero tastes as much like Birra Moretti as Heineken 0.0 tasted like Heineken i.e. there’s a big difference. But unlike the Heineken experience, I found both beers to be very pleasant, and I imagine the Zero beer would be good with a light pasta or fish dish while the normal Moretti would go well with some read meat. Birra Moretti Zero is one of the better zero-% beers out there.