From the HBD Archive
From: Len Reed <lbr%holos0@gatech.edu>
Subject: no subject (file transmission)
Date: 1990-05-22 00:52:08 GMT

Subject: Re: Mike Leonard doesn't rate
In #421 hplabs!polstra!norm (Norm Hardy) writes:

> I was sipping on a Paulaner Thomas-Brau non-alcoholic beer when I read the
> testing where Mike Leonard recognized that he was drinking a non-alcoholic
> beer and refused to score it. Why?

The simple fact is that "non-alcoholic beer" is a contradiction. Note
that the brewers don't call their 1/2% alcohol malt beverages beer; I'm not
sure, but I doubt that they legally could call it beer even if they wanted to.

> Is there something WRONG with beer that has less than .5% alcohol? Does
> alcohol have to be a major part of the equation?

Yes.

In a similar vein, what's wrong with ice cream that's low in fat? Fat, like
alcohol, is bad. (Or so the diet police tell us.) But if you lower the
fat below a certain minimum, the USDA won't let you call it ice cream. Lower
the fat enough in margarine and you get "spread." Lower the sugar in jelly
and you get "spread."

This is not arbitrary or pedantic. Alcohol has taste. The presence of alcohol
in beer is historically more important than hops (which have only a few
centuries of use), and more important than barley malt (beer can be made
entirely from other grains). Alcohol is one of the major contributors to
the smell, taste, and mouth feel of beer. Moderate amounts of alcohol are
at the very core of what makes beer, beer. Concentrate the alcohol by
distillation and you have whiskey; take it out and you get non-alcoholic
malt beverage.

This is not to say that de-alcoholized beer is necessarily bad, only that
it's not beer. If you want to judge it, put it in a special category.

> Question: would homebrewers like to try a brewing system that allowed them
> to make excellent beers with a lower final alcohol level?

The non-alcoholic "beers" I've had were less than satisfactory. Most tended
to be horribly balanced to malt (underhopped). O'Doule's was better
balanced, but runs head up against the _real_ problem. Alcohol has taste.
O'Doule's tastes weird because it lacks alcohol.

I'm guessing, do do the brewers use low temperature evaporation? Sounds
messy and perhaps dangerous to do at home.

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