Adnams already have skin in the alcohol-free beer market. Their Ghost Ship 0.5% is one of the more widely available non-alcoholic beers in the UK, gracing the shelves of many a large supermarket and local off-license. They also produce another similar AF ale for Marks and Spencer, their Southwold Pale Ale. But the veteran Suffolk-based brewery was experimenting with low alcohol beers before either of these were released. After asking customers at the turn of the last decade whether they would drink an Adnams beer clocking in at 2.8% ABV, head brewer Fergus Fitzgerald spent several months tinkering away at recipes and techniques before unveiling Sole Star in December 2011. Reviews from the time seem positive from what I could find, but the beer was obviously a pet project for the brewer, who maybe saw the potential for nolo drinks.
By 2017 a new version of the brew was released, this time pared down to 0.9% ABV. The brewer utilised restricted fermentation, recipes involving malts lower in sugar and a higher hop usage to fill in those flavour holes. Sales of the ale must have been good, as a year later Adnams invested in a reverse osmosis plant and brought out the non-alcoholic version of their popular Ghost Ship.
Sole Star has been on my radar for a while, but seeing the subject of this blog is beers at or below 0.5% ABV it’s been beyond the scope of our remit to review it. It seems strange to me now that I’m thinking a beer with an ABV of 0.9% is ‘too strong’ – how things have changed over the last few years! However it seems that Adnams have been busy with their reverse osmosis machine, and the current iteration of Sole Star is now down to a reviewable 0.5%. I missed the news of this happening, but it seems to have been released at the start of 2021 with little fanfare. I like Adnams Ghost Ship NA, but Sole Star has been in production in one way or another for a bit longer. Is it as good?
Nice to see another 500ml bottle added to the nolo beer lineup. The contents pour a dark amber colour, not living up to it’s pale ale title. The clarity is good, and there is some steady carbonation to be seen. An initial head froths up and looks pretty for a while, but like everything else it soon expires. On the nose we get malted grain sweetness, almost toffee-like, which is joined by whiffs of grass and orange citrus rind. Quite a nice hoppy aroma, will it continue on into the taste?
A malty base greets us when we take a mouthful, with a mild almost caramel sweetness. Grassy bitterness builds up but remains quite low. The carbonation is at a good level but the beer is rather watery, which diminishes the mouthfeel. It’s like the barman topped up your beer with a splash of soda water. We finish with a bitterness which does not last long.
For a beer that seems to have had a lot of love poured into it over the years, I think Adnams have tinkered a bit too much here and the quality of the beer has suffered. I’ve seen Sole Star described as brown soda water elsewhere, and I have to agree with that sentiment. The taste is pretty bland and the drink is watery, neither of which I look for in a non-alcoholic beer. Stick to Ghost Ship if you want a drink from the Suffolk-based brewer.
Buy Adnams Sole Star
Adnams’ other AF beer is widely available in supermarkets, so I expect Sole Star will probably follow suit. You can also pick it up from the following shops:
|Nutritional Information (per 100ml, taken from the side of the bottle)|
|Water, Malted Barley, Hops, Carbon Dioxide|
|Country of Production||United Kingdom|
|Brewer||Adnams – https://www.adnams.co.uk/|
Adnams Sole Star Alcohol-Free Pale Ale Review
Another malty, bland and watery alcohol-free beer. By this point I thought we’d be past this.