I think BrewDog’s 0.5% Nanny State beer was my first taste of low alcohol beer, and Alcohol Free Punk IPA is also 0.5%, so not quite as AF as the beers I’ve sampled as part of this run of posts. I know in my third post I said I’d stop there, but like Warner Bros I just can’t help myself, and like the fourth Matrix film there’s a bad smell in the air.

Punk IPA, the original ‘the beer that started it all’ in 2007 has a distinctive hoppy IPA bitterness and is a complex beer made from four simple ingredients: plain old water, malted barley, hops and yeast. It’s brewed in Ellon, Scotland, and whatever you may feel about the antics of the brewery and it’s seeming sell-out status to ‘the man’ it’s a damn good drink. So the last few times I’ve been in the Centro Lounge in Loughborough it’s my preferred choice of their three zero-% offerings. It comes in a bottle at the bar, but I didn’t expect the canned version to taste much different.

How wrong I was. Compared to the 5.4%, 170 kcal original, the canned AF version has 49 kcal and a completely different immediate taste and skunky aroma a strange kind of organic taste almost like a CBD drink which today I found really rather unpleasant. I’ve not noticed when I’ve had it before at a local bar from a bottle and poured into a glass and I’ve not had the two beers Sat side by side to discover the difference. I’m really surprised. It tastes like a dodgy batch.  

Let’s take a look at the ingredients; water, lactose (milk), malted barley, hops, yeast, malted oats, malted wheat, lactic acid. Milk? Hmmm. I guess it beats unnamed ‘natural flavourings’ but it does render the beer not suitable for vegans. And is it the milk that’s causing the smell, or does the beer have a completely different selection of hops? The official blurb says this – “Juicy tropical fruit mixes it up with grassy and pine notes. All sitting on a solid malt bassline.” Okay so perhaps I am really confused as to what malt smells like. To me this AF beer smells like a punk’s armpit.

I love the original Punk IPA – it’s definitely one of my favourite IPAs – but I won’t be buying any more of this AF stuff. Definitely a Matrix 4 of the zero-% beer world.