If anyone were to offer you a Budweiser, you’d be right to refuse, and if you were to run a mile and cease all communication with the individual who made the offer I’d totally understand too. The AB InBev monstrosity is the worst alcohol-free beer we’ve reviewed on this website, being closest to a cereal-flavoured soda water. However, the Budweiser brand has been unfairly tainted by Anheuser-Busch, as the original Budweiser beer hails from the Czech Republic, or the Kingdom of Bohemia as it was know at the time of it’s birth. The city of České Budějovice, where all true Budweiser beer is still brewed, was founded in 1265. Their beer became famous in the area, and over the next few hundred years many pretenders sprung up in the locality, though the citizens of České Budějovice were quick to put a boot to the doors and a sledgehammer to the walls of these imposter breweries.
By 1895 the Czech Republic was still part of Austria-Hungary, and the town of České Budějovice was referred to by it’s German name – ‘Budweis’. From this grew the word we know today – Budweiser – meaning beer from Budweis. However, all was not well with the German brewers muscling their way into what the Czech citizens classed as a Czech institution. With help from donations and funding from ordinary Czech people, a new brewery – Budějovický Budvar, národní podnik – was established, using modern techniques to brew Budweiser beer the Czech way. Meanwhile, in the US, Adolphus Busch and Carl Conrad were developing a lager inspired by their time in Bohemia, and began selling it under the Budweiser name. The Budweiser Budvar Brewery and AB InBev have been arguing over trademark use since the early 20th century, with current rulings allowing AB InBev to use the name in the states, whilst Budweiser Budvar uses the term in Europe.
Budvar Nealko was introduced to the market in 2015, and is sometimes available under the name ‘B:Free’. I couldn’t find any information about it’s production method, but I suspect I will be able to discern whether alcohol has been extracted or not on tasting. So let’s get to it.
The beer pours a pale golden colour with crystal clarity and some light-looking carbonation visible. The pour produces a small fluffy white head which is soon fizzling away. On the nose we get cereal malt sweetness and a light grassy hop aroma. Not much spice or other interesting aromas that come with Saaz hops, and the sweet slightly worty malt makes me think this has been fermented with lazy yeasts.
On tasting we are initially met with the sweetness present in the aroma, but this quickly tapers down. I was hoping this would let in some more aroma from the Saaz hops, but the grassy hop aroma also starts to disappear too. This results in a staple light lager flavour, which unfortunately does have similarities to Anheuser-Busch’s version. There is more flavour here though, and a decent enough body, with a good carbonation level giving a smooth mouthfeel. We get a very short, slightly dry finish to the drink.
Budvar Nealko is certainly a better non-alcoholic beer than it’s American counterpart, but that’s not saying much. It’s not as clean tasting as other AF lagers but there’s enough flavour there to quench that beer thirst, though the lack of any real finish does not really entice you to have another one. The quality of alcohol-free beers has indeed moved on from this.
Buy Budvar Nealko
Budvar beers tend to be available quite readily these days, I’ve seen Nealko on the shelves of my local Sainsbury’s supermarket. It’s also available from the online retailers below:
|Nutritional Information (per 100ml, taken from the side of the bottle)|
|Water, Barley Malt, Hops|
|Country of Production||Czech Republic|
|Brewer||Budweiser Budvar – https://budweiserbudvar.com/uk/|
Budvar Nealko Alcohol-Free Lager Review
A solid enough AF lager but offers nothing special to make it stand out from the crowd except for a famous name and lineage.