I want a GM-free, sugar-free, fat-free, caffeine-free coleslaw without dairy, soya, sweeteners, MSG or saturates. I want it in a low-carb, skinny, reduced-salt baked potato grown beyond 200 miles of the nearest pesticide and any preservative. It should come served on natural stone. If I smell a single E-number I will leave without paying, astonished that you can’t cater to the most simple of requests.
January is a miserable month wherein some decide to go mad. Whether detoxing, getting fit, losing weight or embarking on another lifestyle so categorically sensible and healthy we only do it once a year; we do so when at our poorest and coldest. Sounds great!
I abstain from fads, trends, diets and most forms of exercise during January – and the rest of the time – as choosing anything that makes life harder in the depths of winter seems akin to insisting on doing extremely important accounting only when on a noisy and crowded train to somewhere hideous, like Bracknell.
This approach has led me to have tried low alcohol beers by accident and in very small number – I know Cobra’s version and Becks Blue are awful. So let’s discover some other offerings we have.
I begin with an Erdinger Alkoholfrei – I speak a little German and am pretty sure this is what I’m after. The aroma is floral and malty and the head healthy – that is where the positives end. The initial flavour is so intensely sweet it is like drinking a Hobnob or cold, fizzy Horlicks. You get a harsh transition when you swallow and are left with lingering Farley’s rusk (other rusks are available. Or are they?). Others like it, I don’t.
Brewdog’s Nanny State – I quite like it! I do rant about an obsession with hops, but here that’s the perfect flavour to mask that there’s something missing. I have had worse full-strength IPAs. The aroma is good, the lacing and appearance are great, and it is clean and abundantly refreshing.
Marks and Spencer Low Alcohol Czech Lager – Again, it smells intensely sweet but not hugely dissimilar to a regular version. The flavour too is very sweet, but again, not out of place. Refreshing and interesting enough.
So what does alcohol bring to the table? It smooths and blends flavours while also making them punchier. It adds depth and intrigue. It brings mature but mellow qualities like oak, vanilla, dried fruits and spirits. It tends quite often to make me the funniest and cleverest person in any social gathering. And, crucially, it allows me to forget that it is -1° outside and still months until summer.
If you want to look after yourself more, that’s fine. But 30 days of living like a prisoner on a far-off island might not be the long term solution you need. If you must avoid alcohol, go for Nanny State or M&S’s Czech Lager – all the nutritional goodness beer provides without the body-ravaging effects of booze.