Outside of my ongoing love for and exploration of English wine, I am quite partial to a nice cold beer. However, like many others, I have been increasingly conscious of controlling my alcohol unit consumption.
The search for decent low or no alcohol alternatives has historically been long and unfruitful. However, in recent times I have found my options to be increasingly appealing. One of my recent discoveries is Binary Botanical from Good Living Brew Company, who produce a lightly sparkling beer in both 4% and 0.5% volume variants.
Why, you may ask, am I talking about beer and not wine today? Well, Binary Botanical is a little different from your average craft beer, and Good Living draw on a few parallels to wine both in terms of production and character.
The Good Living Brew Company take their base beer and infuse it with organic hop leaves during fermentation. This addition brings an additional tang, rather than bitterness, and also adds a little weight and texture that I would liken a little to the tannin found in grape skin or tea leaves. Wine yeasts are also utilised in fermentation to strengthen the wine-like qualities of the beer further. I enjoyed both variants, and perhaps the 4% even more than the 0.5%. However, the 0.5% taps into the low alcohol market really well and is something I would (and have been) drinking as an alcohol alternative.
And that is where the appeal lies. Good Living’s Binary Botanical 0.5% is a really well made, enjoyable alternative to alcoholic beer. The 250ml bottle clocks in at 45 calories a bottle, with negligible sugar and fat content and just 0.15 units of alcohol.
My thoughts on both variants can be found below.
Binary Botanical 4%
With aromas of citrus peel, peach, pear and floral hedgerow notes, there’s a marked similarity to the aromas of Charmat-method sparkling wine, underpinned by the characteristic hoppiness of beer.
To taste, there’s also a wine-like structure which begins with crisp citrus and white fruit notes and continues with a pleasing weight and softness on the mid-taste, together with riper pear and tropical fruit flavours. It finishes on a classic hoppy note, along with a greener, almost tannic finish that comes from the organic hop leaf infusion.
Binary Botanical 0.5%
Interestingly, I found the alcohol free version to be even more wine-like from an aromatic point of view. Its crisp, fresh nose of elderflower, hedgerow and orchard fruits reads like an English white wine.
The taste shares similar characteristics – it’s best served super chilled, which enhances the freshness. There’s a lovely textural quality that elevates this above most low-alcohol beer options and, while the yeasty, hoppy notes are a little more subdued, they linger nicely on the finish.