It's Guinness - but not as we know it - as brewer launches zero-alcohol stout

Guinness has unveiled a non-alcoholic version of the world's most famous stout.
Gary McDonald Business Editor

SOME 261 years after Arthur Guinness set up his own ale brewery in Leixlip with £100 he'd inherited from his bishop godfather, the multi-million pound company he spawned has finally produced a non-alcoholic version of the world's most famous stout.

Guinness 0.0, which was unveiled to global audiences yesterday, is the culmination of four years of meticulous work led by the technical and innovation teams at St. James’s Gate in Dublin.

And while traditionalists (this writer included) may baulk at the idea of tampering with perfection, first taste-tests indicate that the new brew boasts the same beautifully smooth taste, balanced flavour and unique ruby red colour of normal Guinness, but without the alcohol.

The worldwide market for non-alcoholic beer is expected to grow at 7.7 per cent over the next few years to reach more than £20 billion by 2027, and every major global brewer wants a slice of that cake.

Guinness is renowned for past innovations, having launching the world’s first nitrogenated beer in 1959, and it then found a way of getting dormant nitrogen into a can by creating the award-winning widget which activates on opening every can of Guinness Draught.

Equally, though, it has endured monumental failures, notably the 1970s concoction that was Guinness Light, ignominiously dubbed “the Titanic of stouts”, into which the company pumped millions of pounds to launch (one TV commercial even depicted astronaut Neil Armstrong with the stout on the moon).

But initial impressions suggest Guinness 0.0 won't suffer that same fate (in taste tests by an independent panel, they found it ‘exceeded expectations’, with its taste lauded as ‘outstanding’).

The St James’s Gate brewers started the process for the new product by brewing it exactly as they've always done, using the same natural ingredients of water, barley, hops and yeast.

But they then removed the alcohol through a unique cold filtration method, a process which allows the alcohol to be filtered out without presenting thermal stress to the beer, protecting the integrity of its taste and character.

Aisling Ryan, innovation brewer at St James’s Gate said: “We've always had an unwavering commitment to quality and our entire brewing team is hugely proud of the care and effort that has gone into the development process for Guinness 0.0.

“We have created a taste experience we believe is truly unrivalled in the world of non-alcoholic beer, a stout that is unmistakably Guinness, and we can’t wait for people to finally be able to try it.”

The new product, which will have a cheaper price point than its traditional alternative (£4.50 for a 500ml four-pack), will be rolled out across off-licences and supermarkets in the north before Christmas and will then be available in selected pubs in draught form from next spring.

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