All of us at We Brought Beer love our Double IPAs, Imperial Stouts, and Barley Wines. And one of the most important elements of brewing is understanding and maintaining the balance of flavours – of which alcohol is an important component. Generally, if you whack up the alcohol by volume (ABV) of a beer, you can increase the flavour. As a result, the IPA has become the de facto beer for beer lovers because its higher ABV allows for all the characteristics we want in our beers to be multiplied. However, this leads to other problems – we like to be able to have more than a couple of beers before calling it a night.

Luckily, ABV isn’t everything. Some of the best breweries out there, renowned for their huge, bold, beers also craft wonderful lower strength beverages. The Session IPA is the vogue style at the moment, recreating IPA flavours at lower strengths. However, sometimes even 4% or 5% is too high. Sometimes you want something that you can drink, drink some more, have a couple more and then have one final one before you leave.

Below, we have picked out 3 of our favourite sub-3.0% ABV beers available in bottle in the shop.

Lervig – Johnny Low

It’s said that necessity is the mother of invention, and that’s where Johnny Low comes into play. Norway has pretty stringent alcohol laws – no beer can be sold on Sundays, public holidays, election days, or May 1 and 17. However, once a beer’s ABV is lowered to 2.5%, it becomes fair game and can be sold anywhere at anytime. Step forward Lervig with their 2.5% Johnny Low.

Johnny Low is a session IPA. An incredibly sessionable IPA. Don’t think that calling it a session IPA is a marketing gimmick and that it is just a low strength pale ale. It has the usual IPA suspects when it comes to hops, using the ever popular Cascade, Simcoe and Citra and when it comes to the dry-hopping of the beer, these are used in a far greater proportion than in their flagship pale ale that is almost double the strength. This dry-hopping creates an aroma that is on-par with many bigger IPAs, and the citrus and tropical bitterness qualities are very much at the forefront.

The flavour profile is crisp yet surprisingly bitter and, whilst it is missing some body, a result of the low ABV and a problem that is difficult to get around, it does not detract from the enjoyment of this beer. If you’re a hophead in need of a quiet night then this is the beer for you.

Mikkeller – Drink’in Berliner

Drink’in Berliner is part of Mikkeller’s Drink’in series of low alcohol beers. Whilst some of these may be alcohol free, or near alcohol free, versions of normally higher ABV beers, the low ABV of this beer suits its style perfectly. Berliner Weisse’s are sour beers that typically range from 2.5% to 3.5%, having been brewed in Germany since at least the 1500s. During the 19th century there were up to 700 breweries producing this style in Germany, with Napoleon dubbing them the “champagne of the North”. The style has since taken a nosedive in popularity, however, and now there are sadly now only a handful German breweries still producing Berliner Weisse beers.
One of the reasons Berliner Weisse can be so low in alcohol is because of their reduced hop content. This means that there is no need for a higher alcohol content to balance out the flavours. Instead, the flavour in this beer comes from bacteria producing lactic acid, which we perceive as being sour.

This beer isn’t as sour as some other examples of this style, but the aroma has the undeniable funk common to most sour beers. The flavour is of tart fruitiness, hints of elderflower and lemons. The citrus finish makes this beer incredibly refreshing. Like a good lemonade, it won’t pucker your lips, but has enough sourness to keep things interesting.

If you’re looking for a low ABV beer that is a bit different, then this is definitely one to check out!

The Kernel – Table Beer

Picking this beer to represent the best of the below 3.0% ABV beers feels a bit cheeky, because sometimes it’s higher. However, conveniently enough, the ABV of the Table Beer photographed for this blog is 3.0%, so I’m gonna run with it.

There isn’t much more praise that we can give The Kernel that hasn’t been given to them by ourselves and others before. Their Table Beer has constantly changing hop combinations and malt profiles. Every batch is separate and distinct from the last, some can be incredibly bright, with high hoppy flavours and a large bitterness. Others can have more of a tart, citrus bitterness. Almost every week we get a new batch of The Kernel Table Beer in and, despite the constant change, they are always excellent.

If you’re going to have a go-to beer in the fridge for everyday drinking then this is as good a one as any. The founder of Orbit Brewery chose it as his desert island beer for that exact reason. The name of this beer comes from the fact that it can just sit on a table and be drunk with anything for any occasion. If you’re craving a pale ale, but don’t want something that’ll send you to sleep in front of the sofa, then this will be perfect for you. If there’s one beer you should pick up every week, it is this one. It’s always different, always brilliant, and always easy drinking.