Gyle 59 – Take It Easy (500ml, 2.5% ABV)
‘Low alcohol beer’ – now there’s a phrase to prompt all true beer lovers into curling their lip with disdain. Not without justification, either. My memories of low alcohol beer are sullied by two particularly egregious examples: Víking Maltöl (0.9%), a sickly sweet Icelandic ‘malt beer’ that I could barely finish, and Brewdog’s Nanny State, a 0.5% beer hopped to the gills but without any balancing malt sweetness or alcoholic body. It was, unlike many of Brewdog’s other fine beers, utterly tongue-punishing.
And there’s the problem – brewing low alcohol beers is difficult, which is probably why so few breweries attempt it, even with the government’s ruling that beers below 2.8% ABV only have to pay half duty.
All credit, then, to Gyle 59, a Dorset brewery that has taken on the challenge and produced Take It Easy, an ale with only 2.5% alcohol.
This was a very lively bottle (read: angry as a hissing cat), but despite the warnings of an unfined, cloudy beer, it poured absolutely clear once the colossal cumulonimbus of foam had subsided.
It had a fresh, lemony-citrus aroma, and a similarly attractive taste, with perhaps a bit more orange and spice – basically what you might expect from a well-hopped pale ale.
It was only in the aftertaste that I really noticed the lack of alcohol, and even then it was a different taste rather than a bad one – a bit like a well-done sugar-free version of a classic drink.
The hoppy finish was satisfying and surprisingly long, putting to shame almost every 5% export lager you could care to name.
This is not just good for a low alcohol beer, but good in its own right.
Written by Richard Salsbury