Desperados is a beer brand originally owned by the Fischer-Adelshoffen Brewery, and is most famous for their tequila-flavoured pale lager. Anyone who has ventured down the drinks aisle in a European supermarket is likely to have seen bottles of Desperados on the shelves, and the empties unfortunately seem to make up the bulk of the drinking-related detritus I see on the streets there. Despite tequila being a Mexican spirit the beer was invented in France, and the original brewer was snapped up by Heineken International, with production now taking place in Poland at the Zlatý Bažant brewery.
Launched in 2001, Desperados clocks in at 5.9% ABV and is on the sweeter end of the flavour scale, which unfortunately makes it popular with underage drinkers. This non-alcoholic version, Desperados Virgin 0.0, was introduced to the French market in 2020, with a Europe-wide rollout taking place in 2021. Whereas the original Desperados relies on ‘aromatic compounds’ for it’s tequila flavour, Desperados Virgin is instead flavoured with ‘citrus and lemon zest’. We’ve seen a few alcohol-free ‘citrus beers’ before, such as Loah Beer Hola and Smashed Citrus. Both of these were fine, but perhaps verging on being beer-flavoured soft drinks rather than proper brews. With the ingredients of Desperados Virgin including both glucose syrup and sugar, I’m expecting more of the same here.
Pouring the beer out from the bottle we get a clear golden coloured liquid with lots of visible carbonation. A lovely thick head is produced as the beer fills the glass, and sticks around for a fair while. On the nose we get sweet lager malt and lots of citrus, both lime and lemon. It’s a refreshing aroma, but I think it’s certainly foreshadowing a lot of sweetness in the taste.
The taste is indeed sweet, sugary lager malt with a fair hit of lemon citrus. Very reminiscent of a lager shandy, it reminds me of the old cans of Shandy Bass that used to be a favourite thirst-quencher when I was young. The body is quite light and the mouthfeel is somewhat syrupy, but it’s easy to drink and refreshing enough. We get a sweet finish to the drink with an edge of lime zest.
Desperados Virgin 0.0 is a beer-flavoured soft drink in my opinion. It’s not something that has been crafted by a master brewer, more something assembled in a factory. It certainly has it’s place in the drinks market, and for slaking your thirst it’s a fair option, as long as you don’t mind the huge sugar and carb hit too. As a beer though it’s a non-starter.
Buy Desperados Virgin 0.0
I’ve never seen a Desperados available in any bar or pub, but they’re quite readily available on the supermarket shelves. You can pick up some Desperados Virgin 0.0 from the following retailers:
|Nutritional Information (per 100ml, taken from the side of the bottle)
|Water, Barley Malt, Glucose Syrup, Sugar, Hop Extracts, Natural Flavour, Acidifier: Citric Acid
|Country of Production
|Heineken Group – https://www.desperados.com/gb-en
Desperados Virgin 0.0 Review
A sweet lager shandy masquerading as a beer. Refreshing enough if that’s what you’re after.