An honest review of a first time alcohol-free beer drinker against the original alcoholic beer

This month I got sent a sample of Heineken 0.0 alcohol-free (0.05%) lager and its alcoholic counterpart, Heineken 5% for an Heineken non-alcoholic beer review. I made my partner, photographer and beer lover Andrew McKenzie, blind taste them. His words were: “if you gave me one tonight and the other one tomorrow night, I wouldn’t be able to tell any difference in flavour”.

Let’s look at both up close:

Look

Both Andrew and I thought that the Heineken 0.0 looks the same as its flagship version, sporting an appealing fresh golden colour. If you want to be finicky, like I was being, and look at them in a clear glass, one next to the other, you might just be able to notice that the alcohol-free beer is slightly less cloudy.

At the moment of pouring them, both develop a little head that disappears quickly.

Look winner: Draw

Serve them in a glass and you won’t be able to tell which is which. A great advantage if you don’t want to drink one evening and want to avoid fielding annoying questions about it.

Taste

Both Heineken zero and the standard Heineken have the same characteristic fruity notes, a crisp taste and a malty body. The first mouthfuls are identical in flavour. The only difference comes through in the aftertaste. While the original Heineken evolves into a metallic finish and has a lasting impression, the non-alcohol lager version lacks the alcohol content to carry the flavour through. It finishes with a soft cereal undertone that is short-lasting.

Taste winner: Draw

Hardened Heiny drinkers might be able to tell the difference in the aftertaste but the general Joe won’t taste it unless he is told about it. Andrew couldn’t tell when he blind-tasted them.

Nutritional information or values

The same ingredients are used to make both beers: water, malted barley, hop extract and A-yeast.  To compensate for the lack of flavour generated by the alcohol, the Heineken 0.0 is complemented with undisclosed natural flavouring. All good so far.

The meaningful difference is in carbohydrates content. For 100 mL the Heineken 5% has 42cal, exactly double what the Heineken 0.0 has, just 21cal! The non-alcoholic lager indeed has more sugar than the alcoholic Heineken, 1.3g VS 0.1g, but 1% sugar content is still nothing!

Nutritional winner: Heineken 0.0

For its halved caloric content. Not to mention the lack of alcohol!

Drinkability

Heineken 0.0 is perfect for when you crave the feeling of having a beer but don’t want the heaviness of having been drinking alcohol. In Heineken words, they have developed the non-alcoholic lager to become the choice of mainstream beer drinkers looking to take in less carbs, less calories, and often due to driving, less alcohol.

Drinkability winner: Heineken 0.0

Because the moment you couldn’t have a beer…now you can.

Production process 

Heineken is not the same drink as its 5% ABV counterpart, without the alcohol. Instead, the brewery produces two beers and then carefully removes the alcohol in a natural process before blending the beers to make the final product.

The important part here is how they produce it like regular Heineken beer. Many of the first non-alcoholic beers were produced without creating alcohol, meaning they were not made like beer at all. “When you don’t produce the alcohol, it tastes too malty” said Willem van Waesberghe, Heineken’s Global Brew Master. He told Forbes that “the difference is removing the alcohol rather than not letting it form in the first place”.

Production process winner: Draw

They are both made like real beer, the yeast fermenting the mixture and creating alcohol, thus flavour. 

Overall winner

Hands down Heineken 0.0 is the winner of this head to head with Heineken 5%. It is nearly impossible to tell the two apart based on the look and, more importantly, taste. What’s more, the non-alcoholic lager is healthier and can be enjoyed on more occasions.

But you don’t have to believe our Heineken 0.0 review on faith. Grab yourself a Heineken 0.0 with Craftzero and let us know in the comment if you agree with us. You can also explore our extensive range of no alcohol beer.

Claudia Frontini

Comments

I was very surprised as to how good the Heineken 0% alcohol beer tastes. I have tried other non alcohol beers anf Heineken wins hands down!

— Carmel

Great informative review. I haven’t had an alcoholic in the past 10 weeks. I’d be considered a regular drinker, not heavy not light, just a regular Friday / Saturday, sometimes Sunday, hardly ever during the week unless I had one of those reasons to ‘escape’… so I was kind of surprised that one day I just didn’t want that heavy feeling from alcohol anymore. It would be a hell of a lot harder to do without Heineken (my favourite beer) 0.0 as I still love the taste of beer. Sitting out in the backyard now, having a few with pretzels – perfect. I’m also benefiting health wise as I have dropped a few kgs without doing anything out of the normal. I would say I’m more active especially on Sunday. Fitbit registered 10k last Sunday from playing cricket with the kids out the back!

— Mark Anderson