Leffe produce a range of ‘Abbey’ beers, which are types of ale traditionally brewed by monks of various religious orders. The Leffe abbey in south Belgium began brewing beers back in 1240, initially using ingredients they found growing wild in the lands around them. Generations of monks passed on their brewing skills and recipes, with a high ABV blonde ale becoming the abbey’s most popular beer. However, an institution with over 750 years of history is bound to have been through a few rough patches, and the Leffe abbey certainly has. A flood virtually destroyed it in 1460, with a fire running rampant through what was left of the place six years later. The abbey was also hit during the French Revolution, with billeted troops eventually destroying the brewery buildings, causing the entire area to be abandoned by 1794.
It was not until 1952 that brewing began again at the abbey, thanks to Lootvoet brewery – a brewer in the Flemish region of Belgium. Today the brewer is owned by beer barons AB InBev, with Leffe-branded beers brewed in Leuven at the Stella Artois brewery. Leffe Blond 0.0 was the brewer’s first non-alcoholic offering, launched in 2020, and is the AF version of their flagship blonde ale. The alcohol in the beer is only removed after the entire brewing process has been completed, probably by reverse-osmosis in a similar way to AB InBev’s other alcohol-free beers. Leffe’s beers tend to be famous for being on the higher end of the ABV spectrum, with a range between 5% and 9%. Back in the days when I partook in full fat beers I was quite fond of the odd Leffe, but could never drink more than a couple without the sleepiness coming over me. It will be interesting to see if the old flavours are still there after the alcohol has been extracted and the resultant beer re-carbonated and tinkered with (by this I mean the dreaded ‘Natural Aromas’ from the ingredients list).
The beer pours a deep golden colour with great clarity and several visible streams of bubbles. A thick frothy head is produced, sticking around while we drink and leaving some lacing down the side of the glass. On the nose we get spiced and herby bready malt with a honey sweetness and a touch of weiss-bier style fruity banana. There’s a slight whiff of popcorn in there too, and looking on the ingredients list we see maize in there.
On tasting there is a sweetness, starting like fruity green apple but mellowing into honey, which is quickly joined by spicy clove. This adds a certain bitterness to the beer, but a background of sweetness remains. Bready malt is there, along with a touch of vanilla. The body of the beer is pretty good though the carbonation is quite high, giving a slightly sharp mouthfeel. The finish it long, bitter and cloying.
Leffe Blond 0.0 does have similarities with it’s stalwart big brother, though it misses the mark overall. There are certainly layers of aroma and flavour to the beer, but they don’t necessarily gel into a coherent drinking experience. The bottle size of the beer I bought was a mere 250ml, and I think that is enough for me if I ever fancy reliving the memories of a Leffe.
Leffe Blond 0.0
I bought my Leffe Blong 0.0 from Sainsbury’s supermarket, whilst it’s also on the shelves at Tesco. Buy online from the following AF drinks specialists:
|Nutritional Information (per 100ml, taken from the side of the bottle)
|Water, Barley Malt, Maize, Barley, Sugar, Hops, Natural Aromas
|Country of Production
|InBev Belgium – https://leffe.com/en/beer
Leffe Blond Alcohol-Free Abbey Ale Review
Good looks and aromas unfortunately transition into interesting but confused flavours, and a bitter finish that’ll linger for too long on your palate.