Food & Drink

Craft Beer: Brews to help you through dry January

Lucky Saint
Lucky Saint Lucky Saint

HOW'S the detox going? If you bothered to have a post-festive period of abstinence, you're either well on the way at this stage, or tempted to reach for a comforting brew.

Swinging from the extreme of over-indulging at Christmas to the puritanical purge of January can be doomed to fail from the start. The middle ground is usually the more attainable and when it comes to beer, there are range of options.

While some swear off the beer completely in January, others have benefited from the increasingly wide array of alcohol-free choices.

If you are pining for a beer but still have the finishing line of a dry January in sight, here are a couple you might want to try.

First up is Without from St Peter's Brewery Co in Suffolk, England. St Peter's do a decent line in organic beers and old style ales. This beer is a dark amber coloured ale that attempts to replicate the malty ales of traditional English pubs.

On the malt side of things, it succeeds – perhaps too much. There's an initial malty beer flavour, but then it leans more over to a cereal taste, like a bran-heavy breakfast cereal or a slice of wholegrain bread.

After that you get a sharp bitterness, but there's not enough hop flavour before that to make it particularly palatable. It's all a bit sickly at times and you'd probably be better drinking the remaining milk from a bowl of bran flakes.

Next up is Lucky Saint, an unfiltered lager which boasts the use of Bavarian water, pilsner malt and Hallertau hops – all staples of a European lager. That this beer doesn't attain the heights of an authentic Bavarian lager shouldn't count against it and the fact that it could quite easily pass for a beer of around 4 per cent is an admirable achievement.

It has a crisp and refreshing feel to it and even manages to bring across flora and citrus notes and a clean hop finish. Many alcohol-free beers have an unpleasant sugariness to them, but this has none of that and in fact has nice, biscuity malt profile. It has a bit more body about it than many of the transatlantic 'lite' lagers which sell like the proverbial hot cakes.