The Great British Non-Alcohol Beer Festival

Changes are indeed afoot at CAMRA, yet this is perhaps not the momentous shift in policy and wider beer or cider inclusion that many CAMRA members recently voted for (and some voted against).  Welcoming non-alcohol beer to its Great British Beer Festival is a great CAMRA initiative, and not only because it’s a move in the right direction to embrace something new and innovative, but also because it’s indicative of a continued social responsibility.  The drivers, non-drinkers and others who visit GBBF but don’t drink (alcohol) beer are too often overlooked; any step towards welcoming more people who fall outside of the so-called ‘traditional CAMRA membership’ mould can only be a good thing.

In spite of this, there is a significant caveat insomuch as most diehard beer drinkers have tasted many low- and non-alcohol beers over recent decades — some good, some not so good, and some terrible — so an initial amount of scepticism and disparaging comments is only to be expected.

Braxzz Brewery produces these beers, and that suggests these beers should possess a high-quality flavour profile and be more-than-capable of surviving a dual-edged trial-by-fire at GBBF, winning over both the traditionalist beer-drinkers and a British market that is innately suspicious of anything new.  If the CAMRA faithful at GBBF can be convinced that these new low- and non-alcohol beers have great aroma and mouthfeel without compromising on taste and quality, Braxzz Brewery and its beers shall prove to be a success.

Braxzz Brewery is an Amsterdam-based enterprise, the brainchild of a food- and drink-loving duo who discovered a gap in the beer market created by a lack of first-rate low- and non-alcohol beers.  By combining the skills and knowledge they utilise on a day-to-day basis with their own venture-capital firm, they collaborated with a long-established family of brewers to develop a range of beers that are proudly brewed in neighbouring Germany and represented in the UK by colleagues based in the great city of Liverpool.  The omens for success look good.

Over a year in the making, Braxzz Brewery’s beers are already one-step ahead of yesteryear’s attempts at producing low- and non-alcohol beer simply by focusing on ales over lagers.  There’s currently a Porter, an Amber Ale and a Session IPA, with a regular IPA, a gluten-free beer and a Tripel in the pipeline (literally); all these styles are familiar to ale drinkers the world over.  The key difference here is, of course, a very low ABV of 0.2% or less.  With high-quality malt, the right choice of hops and time-honoured brewing methods, these beers could potentially be popular and lucrative winners.

Introducing a 0.0% ABV Porter to London seems challenging, considering the style is historically intertwined within the beer-fabric of the city, but it makes sense to introduce Braxzz Brewery’s Porter to the city in which the first Porters were most-likely developed because theirs is first non-alcohol Porter in the world.

The proof is in the tasting, and visitors to GBBF can experience what promises to be a great set of low- and non-alcohol brews at Olympia in mid-August.  Kaeru Beer shall, however, try to find Braxzz Brewery’s beers here in the Netherlands in order to whet the appetite of drinkers thirsty for something new and refreshing.