It smells like a Pale ale, it tastes like a Pale ale, but the Alc-Less by Capital Brewing Co. in my hand is anything but your ordinary beer. Full of flavour, Capital Brewing Co’s Alc-Less tropical Pale Ale showcases everything an alcoholic brew has with less of the tomfoolery. What do I mean by tomfoolery? Well, the alcohol content.
Recently, the non-alcohol (NA) industry has boomed, especially over the pandemic, which might be surprising to some. Although now people are more conscious of alcohol consumption and health and wellness, the NA category is on the rise and shows no signs of slowing down.
Canberra-based independent craft brewery Capital Brewing Co. introduced its first full flavour non-alcoholic beer in June of this year. While gin and other spirits have taken off in the NA category, beer is rapidly catching up with craft breweries in Australia, experimenting with non-alcoholic brews.
Co-Founder and Managing Director Laurence Kain says expanding into the on-alcoholic category was a natural next step for the innovative brewery given the consumer demand.
“We worked on the recipe for two years at the Canberra brewery,” says Kain before explaining how non-alcoholic beer is made. “Creating non-alcoholic beer is hard. Our innovative fermentation process uses a special yeast that only eats particular sugars, not the ones that create alcohol.”
The process Kain refers to is called experimental yeast strain. This differs from zero fermentation, which cuts out the fermentation process by removing yeast from the recipe altogether. The benefit of using experimental yeast strains is the non-alcoholic beer has a more beer-like flavour.
Although, for Kain making non-alcoholic beer for the first time was not without its challenges and those moments where you laugh it off and try again.
“People don’t realise that non-alcoholic beer doesn’t act like normal beer. The fermentation process for NA beer is much faster. Normal beer ferments in 10 days, and NA beer takes up to two days to ferment. We also have to pasteurise NA beer because we’ve removed the alcohol, which increases the risk of contamination in the product, whereas normal beer creates a hostile environment for pathogens,” he says.
The canning process is similar to normal beer. Dissolved oxygen remains low in the tank, but oxygen contact is inevitable when the beer makes it into the can. As Kain explains, the cans are purged to remove any oxygen, and once the cans are ready to be sealed, there is a 0.3 of a millimetre tolerance. This is also why NA beer can cost the same, if not more, than normal beer.
Creating Alc-Less was an experiment for the Capital Brewing Co team, and as with all experiments, some failed. Kain recalls when the tank sensors were slightly off calibration for chilling, Which resulted in a tank of frozen beer. “It was only a small tank,” he says, “but still.”
“We made beer that tasted amazing, but it had 1% alcohol, so we had to start again. Eventually, we engaged some food scientists to help us with the yeast,” he says.
Kain enlisted the help of the CSIRO and entered a program with the department of industry and innovation. Through the mentorship, the Capital Brewing Co. produced Alc-less, one of the best-tasting NA beers on the market.
“We’re pretty happy with it,” he says. “There’s more to come.”
The cold weather in most parts of Australia coinciding with EOFY celebrations is the closest thing that we’ll get to snowy Christmas vibes. And if you’re in dire need of some festive cheer after the first six months of 2023, grab your ugly sweater and head to your nearest Red Rooster for Xmas in July deals.
From June 29 – July 31, 2023, Red Rooster is serving up free food items, a chance to win $10,000 or one of 10 merch packs valued at $400 and other fun prizes. All you have to do is sign up as a Red Royalty member and spend $5 on at a location near you or online.
Each week there’ll be new delicious deals and prizes to win. The week one deals have already dropped and they’re looking pretty tasty. You can get access to them via your Red Royalty account. The more you purchase, the more chances you have to win.
Spoiler alert: you can get 10 chicken nuggets for free, right now. Brb running to Red Rooster.