Brewdog Nanny State Review

There has long been a bit of stigma attached to alcohol free beer in this country. In Europe, they have been much more widely available for a while now, with many of the big Spanish and German breweries producing alcohol free versions of their best sellers, but over here breweries have been very slow to make their move into this market.

Thankfully, that is beginning to change now. As more and more people look to cut down on their alcohol intake, or cut it out completely, alcohol free beer has slowly started emerging from some of our breweries to make their way on to our supermarket shelves and even into our pubs and bars.

It should come as no surprise that BrewDog were slightly ahead of the curve in this regard. Never ones to miss a trick or an opportunity to expand their market share, they have produced a low alcohol beer, Nanny State, in its current form since 2013. But is it any good? Well, you have come to the right place to find out – let’s talk you through it in our full Brewdog Nanny State review.

About BrewDog

nanny state canI’m sure you’ve heard of BrewDog – they exploded onto the scene in 2007, and by the end of 2008 they had already become the largest independent brewery in Scotland. Their rise has been intrinsically linked to the rise of ‘craft’ beer – they have been at the forefront of the widespread availability of this new genre of beer, with their flagship product Punk IPA becoming one of the most widely recognised beers of its type.

They now have breweries all over the world, bars in cities all over the world, 50,000 shareholders, a hotel, a collaboration with British Airways and have become the world’s first carbon negative brewery. They have a lot going on!

Way back in 2008 though, they gained an awful lot of publicity by producing the UK’s strongest ever beer, Tokyo at 18.2% abv. The reaction to this was so vociferous, it worked perfectly in terms of getting their name out there – but they didn’t want to be known as producers of just strong beers.

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The Nanny State Concept

Their reaction to the reaction – their backlash to the backlash – was to produce Nanny State, at a time when low alcohol beers were hard to come by. They call it a liquid protest to the hysteria surrounding Tokyo – a great way to showcase their diversity, while also appealing to a completely different type of beer drinker.

Plenty of work went into making this beer – a lot of tinkering and experimentation to get it to what it is today. While it worked perfectly as such, they do not see Nanny State as simply a publicity stunt – they care about offering people low or no alcohol alternatives. They have even opened an alcohol free bar in Old Street.

Nanny State Taste Test

So their heart is in the right place when it comes to providing great options for low and no alcohol free beer. Great – but what we really need to know is what it tastes like, right?

nanny state multipack of beerIt is made with 5 types of hops and 8 different types of malts – the idea of this is to give it as full a body as possible, and that is definitely apparent, even from just pouring it into a glass. They have helpfully given us the IBU rating, which is 45. For the uninitiated, this is the International Bitterness Scale, and a rating of 45 puts it towards the bitter end of the most common section of the scale.

So what you get is a surprisingly full bodied, and quite bitter drink. Much different to what I was expecting, and unlike many other low alcohol beers that I have tried. In terms of specific flavours, the lighter fruit flavours hit you before the bitterness – it is heavy on the citrus (orange and lemon) and there are also hints of sherbert and lychee there as well. There is a malty (as you would expect with so many different varieties) and biscuity hint to the aftertaste.

The contrast between the light and sweet fruity notes, with the harsher bitter and malty aftertaste really balances perfectly. You end up with a wonderfully refreshing drink, but a sophisticated one – it is made for people that love ‘craft’ beers, and I think it would satisfy even the most fussy of craft beer drinkers.

Obviously, drink this chilled, as you would any beer. I am always hesitant to compare low or no alcohol beers to their alcohol equivalents, they are different drinks and should be viewed as such. However, on this occasion, what I will say is this: if you lined up 5 or 6 different beers, and included Nanny State, I don’t think your average beer drinker would be able to tell you which one was the one without alcohol with any certainty. It really is a very good, and authentic, craft beer – no matter what the alcohol content.

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Is BrewDog Nanny State Really Free From Alcohol?

You may have noticed that I have often referred to ‘low or no alcohol beers’ in this article – that is because Nanny State has the official rating of 0.5% abv. While this, obviously, isn’t alcohol free, it should be viewed in context. A ripe banana contains around the same amount of alcohol.

It is almost impossible to get ‘drunk’ when drinking 0.5% abv beer – your body will process the alcohol almost as quickly as you drink it, so there will be little or no alcohol in your bloodstream.

Technically, a beverage of 0.5% or less is classed as ‘De-alcoholised’, rather than alcohol free. Anything under 1.2% is classed as ‘low alcohol’. These terms can confuse people though, and they differ from country to country, so our advice is to always check the label before you buy.

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Often, when I review a drink like this, it is one from a smaller brewery, or one that has just been released. However, with this drink, you don’t just have to take my (highly trained and professional) word for it. Nanny State has regularly polled at the top of non or low alcohol free beer top 10 lists, and it is not hard to see why. It’s a great drink, and one of the pioneers for the industry in this country.

My advice, if you are looking for a new low alcohol beer, is to try Nanny State – I genuinely think you will be incredibly impressed by the taste. You can then use this as the bar against which you can test all other drinks you try. My guess is that you will keep coming back to Nanny State again and again. You wouldn’t be the first, and you certainly won’t be the last.

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