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Reduced alcohol, increased flavour

Posted on : 17 August 2018

The flavour of the month at the 2018 Sydney Royal Beer, Wine & Cider Show was reduced-alcohol beer. With a 200 per cent increase in entries, this class awarded medals to more than half the brews received, so perhaps the days of ‘low alcohol = low taste’ are well and truly over. And why the increased entry numbers? The judges put it down to tax, taste and torsos.

Excise rates are charged per litre of alcohol for alcoholic beverages, so beers with a reduced alcohol (under 3.5%) attract a lower rate. The excise rate increases twice a year, little wonder reduced-alcohol beer is an increasingly attractive option for brewers.

When consumers can choose from at least 30 different mid-low alcohol beers at large liquor outlets, taste really starts to matter.  Reduced alcohol beer is produced using less malt in the mashing process, meaning there is less sugar to turn to alcohol. Residual sugars then support the balance between body and bitterness, resulting in a similar mouthfeel to full strength beer.

An average full strength beer contains about 550kjs whereas a reduced alcohol beer has about 400kjs making it infinitely better for the waistline. For the body-conscious, it is easier to justify two light beers than two ‘heavies’. Aside from the lack of beer belly, reduced alcohol beer also has less impact on your liver and your quality of sleep.

And let’s not forget, the less alcohol in your beer, the more you can safely consume… an option responsible drinkers are aware of, with reduced alcohol beer accounting for one quarter of all beer sales in Australia.

Amongst the beers awarded medals were Pils 3.5 and Single Fin Summer Ale Special Edition 3.5% from Gage Roads Brewing, Lion’s Iron Jack Crisp Australian Lager and Hahn Premium Light (both produced by Tooheys Brewery), Newstead Brewing Co’s The Ballymore, Murphys Mutiny Mid Strength from Hairyman Brewery and 3 Quarter Time from Newstead Brewing Co.

For a more complete look at Sydney Royal Beer & Cider Show medal worthy brews, click here.

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