Cobra Beer is a product of the late 1980s, and was produced to provide an alternative to the typical British lager of the time, which Cobra’s creator called ‘too fizzy, too harsh and too bloating’. The creator in question was Karan Bilimoria, now Lord Bilimoria, who at the time was a mere 27 year-old saddled with £20k of debt. Cobra Beer was created for consumption with food in mind, and as such has become eternally linked with British-Indian food, and being readily available at bargain curry houses throughout the land. As an accompaniment to spicy food it doesn’t tend to be flavour that I look for in a beer; more like a cool temperature and quick rehydration.
Cobra Zero was released in 2005, which makes it one of the grandparents of the current crop of nolo beers. It also makes me wonder what method of alcohol extraction they’ve used in it’s production. Back then the usual methods were either distillation or very limited fermentation, neither a particularly popular route with today’s alcohol-free beers. Looking at the ingredients of Cobra Zero I see a couple of red flags – glucose syrup, and the always slightly-disturbing ‘natural flavouring’. Adding glucose syrup to a beer may do wonders for the mouth-feel of the brew, but it’ll also result in higher sweetness and calorie content. But will we care about these things when we need to extinguish the chilli heat in our mouth during a particularly spicy lamb bhuna?
Pouring the beer from the bottle we get a clear golden orange liquid which produces a fairly firm soapy head as it fills the glass. The beer looks pretty clear with plenty of visible bubble streams. On the nose we get sweet malt and grains, fairly strong, and fairly reminiscent of unfermented wort.
On tasting the sweet malt from the aroma remains, and indeed is pretty much the only discernible flavour here. There may be a few notes of spice and citrus here and there, but nothing major, and as a result this is a real malt-fest. The carbonation levels are high, and the mouthfeel is syrupy – the glucose syrup effect on show. We get a sweet finish to the drink, mirroring the rest of the drinking experience.
Cobra Zero feels like a trip to the past for me. It ticks all the boxes of a non-alcoholic beer from the previous generation – malty and tasting unfermented. But I can see this working well when paired with spicy food – the high sugar content helping to bind to the capsaicin in chili (the compound responsible for spicy heat) and provide a reprieve for those with weak spice tolerance. As a beer to enjoy on it’s own however it’s rather poor.
Buy Cobra Zero
It should be relatively easy to find Cobra Zero in the bigger supermarkets such as Asda, and of course may be available in your local friendly curry house. Should you want to buy them online you can try these guys:
|Nutritional Information (per 100ml, taken from the side of the bottle)
|Water, Barley Malt, Glucose Syrup, Hop Extract, Natural Flavouring, Acidifier, Citric Acid
|Country of Production
|Cobra Beer / Molson Coors – https://www.cobrabeer.com/
Cobra Zero Review
Sweet, malty and rather gassy. Might be good to douse a spicy curry but I don’t see why you would want to drink this on it’s own.