Look, don't laugh, OK? This isn't a belated April Fool's joke. I'm determined to give these alcohol-free beers a chance - even if my first real go at one (Nanny State) didn't exactly rock my world. Apparently AF is the next big thing (aye, right) and so it's only right and proper that we (or me - Scott pretty much flat out refuses to try the stuff) give it a fair chance on this site. Don't worry though - I had some proper beer after I took one for the team with this one.
I don't really want to go over old ground too much with this 'beer' from Erdinger. I already argued the case in the Nanny State review, that I could sort of see the point of an alcohol free beer, without actually agreeing with the existence of the stuff. At the end of the day, the fact that exists doesn't hurt me and unless breweries stop making proper beer, it never will. And, if you want to drink the stuff, who am I to tell you otherwise? So, with that said, it's only fair that I review this beer as fairly as I would any other beer, without prejudice against the fact that it won't get me shit faced.
And actually... it isn't bad.
I'll give you a second to pick your jaw off the floor.
"At the end of the day, the fact that exists doesn't hurt me and unless breweries stop making proper beer, it never will."
Don't worry though, I'm not converted and I won't be giving up the proper ale any time soon. It's just that, as far as my limited experience of non-alcoholic beers go, this is decent. In fact, if I was given this in a blind test, unaware that it contained minimal amounts of alcohol (0.5%, since you ask), I'm not entirely sure I'd be able to tell the difference.
And with that last paragraph, 95% of the people who read this site have shuffled off, girning into their saison or other such bollocks about how I know nothing about beer, never to be seen again. Honestly, if that's your reaction just now - fuck off then, you beer snob. I've never claimed to be anything but a fan of beer, not an expert.
Anyway, with that unnecessary rant off my chest, let's batter on.
Genuinely though, I really liked this beer. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect from it - I've never heard of Erdinger before (which again, is probably sacrilege in beer circles) and Nanny State had taught me to judge a non-alcoholic beer before tasting it. So I was pleasantly surprised when I took a swig from the bottle. Weissbier Alkoholfrei ('alcohol-free', to save you having to reach for Google Translate...) has a big, comforting malty flavour with minimal bitterness. It's smooth, it's sweet (perhaps a little too sweet) and there's definitely a hoppy element lurking there in the background. Most importantly though - it feels like you're drinking a beer. My main issue with Nanny State - well, one of my main issues with Nanny State - was the fact that it didn't feel like I was drinking a beer. It was too thin, there was no substance to it. That isn't the case with Erdinger. It does really have the mouthfeel of a 'proper' beer.
"It's smooth, it's sweet and there's definitely a hoppy element too. Most importantly though - it feels like you're drinking a beer."
Another thing that maybe I shouldn't actually admit to on here (or anywhere, for that matter); about halfway through the bottle, I sort of forgot that I was drinking a low alcohol beer. And I actually felt a little light-headed, as though I had a buzz from the stuff. Then I remembered and the buzz disappeared. What that either means is that Erdinger was good enough to fool me into thinking it had a normal level of alcohol in it, or I'm light weight who gets drunk on a 0.5% beer. Draw your own conclusions.
And let me finish this (short) review with this: German athletes recently travelled to South Korea for the Winter Olympics with a reported 3500 litres of alcohol free beer. This was prescribed by their medical team, as it contained all the necessary vitamins and minerals to help keep them hydrated and healthy and allow them to compete at the highest level (well, the highest level needed to slide down a snowy hill on a tea tray). The team finished second in the medal table - the highest position ever for the country and above such permanently snowed covered countries as Canada and Finland. Now, I'm not saying that the beer was their secret weapon here - although Erdinger does class their alkoholfrei beer as 'isotonic' (yes, like Lucozade). But I'm not NOT saying it wasn't their secret weapon.
So in summary; if you drink Olympic swimming pool levels of beer from now on, you too could win a medal for wearing baggy trousers and sunglasses and flying down a hill on a thin piece of oiled wood. I think that's a life goal we all can and should aim to achieve.