Originally produced as an answer to the criticism that BrewDog drew for their previous ultra-high ABV offerings (‘Tokyo’ for example), Nanny State was launched in 2009, and clocked in at 1.1% ABV. Following a re-launch in 2010, the alcohol content dropped down to 0.5% whilst the recipe was also tweaked – probably to make it slightly more palatable. It’s popularity arguably spurred the brewer on to produce other non-alcoholic beers, but it was Nanny State that blazed the trail.
It appears the original aim was to create a publicity ploy centring on what you could do with a low ABV ale, and BrewDog’s approach seemed to be to throw everything they had at it. The original 2009 Nanny State clocked in at over 200 IBUs, which stands for International Bitterness Units, and is a gauge for how bitter a beer is. BrewDog later claimed this was ‘insanely bitter and bordering on being too extreme’. I never had a chance to try this version, but my lips go frilly at the thought of it.
Nanny State in it’s current state sits at a slightly more sedate 50 IBUs, which to some will still be too bitter. This is not surprising, as amarillo, cascade, centennial, columbus and simcoe hops are used in the brewing, with more amarillo and centennial added as dry hops later in the process. Coupled with 8 different types of speciality malts, BrewDog are still crowbarring as much as they can into this beer!
Pouring from the can, we get a small but fair head, which dissipates slowly. The liquid is a deep almost ruby colour, probably due to all the different malts used. The hops dominate on the nose, with a fresh pine tang and citrus peel zing.
You’ve probably guessed that this is going to taste hoppy, and it is, almost excessively so. I say ‘almost’ because BrewDog have done a great job of blending the flavours they’ve used. It’s still very bitter, and I know will not be to everyone’s taste. Rather sharp pine seems to dominate the taste, with malt not really making an appearance, except for a slight teasing of coffee/chocolate.
Nanny State is an ale with the flavour of an IPA. It probably started out as a ‘joke’ beer, but BrewDog have refined it into something that is drinkable, though I can think of at least a few people who would turn their noses up at it. I find it refreshing, and at about 20 calories per can I don’t feel guilty for downing a few of these in an evening.
Nutritional Information (per 100ml)
0.5% alcohol by volume
6 calories energy
(taken from the side of the can)
Water, Malted Barley, Hops, Yeast, Oats, Rye, Wheat
BrewDog Nanny State Alcohol Free Ale Review
Apparently much improved from it’s first incarnation, but one for the hop-heads only.