Sainsbury’s has been my main ‘flavour’ of supermarket for many years now, but this has been more out of geographical convenience rather than any customer loyalty or great love of their products. They have however gone up in my estimations over the past couple of years, as they seem to be the only one of the ‘big’ UK supermarket brands to have really made an effort to expand their non-alcoholic beer options. Whereas years back you’d find the alcohol-free beer section in a supermarket tucked away in a dusty corner (if you were lucky!), the branches of Sainsbury’s I’ve visited in the last 12 months tend to have a well-signposted AF beer section with a decent selection of drinks to choose from.
Whilst the majority of the beers I’ve reviewed here have been bought online from a variety of web shops, a fair number of them have been plucked straight from the shelves of my local branch of Sainsbury’s, or included in a delivery from one of their larger branches. Along with buying Stella, Hoegaarden, Brooklyn Brewery Special Effects and Pistonhead Flat Tyre there, I’ve seen offerings from Big Drop and Infinite Session gracing their shelves, along with others I’ve probably forgotten about or would rather not mention. But I’ve yet to try any of Sainsbury’s own-brand nolo beers. Sainsbury’s Pilsner Zero seems to be a brand new product as of 2021, and from what I’ve read seems to have replaced their old Low Alcohol Czech Lager offering, which was brewed for them by Staropramen brewery, much like M&S’s Czech lager. Instead of being brewed in the home of pilsners, the Czech Republic, Pilsner Zero appears to have been brewed in France. Not exactly famous for pilsners, but plenty of decent lagers come from their breweries. How does this one fare?
Pouring out from the large 500ml bottle we get a nice golden coloured liquid with good clarity and lively looking carbonation. We get a small white head but this recedes away after a minute or two. On the nose we get a somewhat fruity aroma, close to apple cider or stone fruits, with a tad of malt sweetness and the odd herbal hop whiff. If someone handed me a glass of this with no context I would have thought it was a cider from the initial sniff.
On tasting the main flavour seems to be stone fruit, closest to dried apricot in my opinion. There is some sweetness there but the drink is rather bitter. The carbonation is way too high, making the beer very gassy and not a pleasant drinking experience. We get a short, bitter and slightly sour finish to the drink.
Whereas I’m happy that Sainsbury’s is blazing the trail that other supermarkets need to follow in their stocking of varied alcohol-free beers, it looks like they need to do some more work on their own-brand product. By all accounts their previous own-brand nolo lager was perfectly drinkable, so maybe this is an attempt to lower costs with a different product. Or maybe it’s one of the many problems caused by the dreaded B word. At the end of the day, avoid this one.
Buy Sainsbury’s Pilsner Zero
Guess what? Sainsbury’s Pilsner Zero is available from Sainsbury’s stores nationwide. But it’s not worth buying.
|Nutritional Information (per 100ml, taken from the side of the bottle)
|Water, Barley Malt, Acid: Citric Acid, Hop Extract, Flavourings
|Country of Production
|Unknown – https://www.sainsburys.co.uk/
|Yes, suitable for vegans according to Sainsbury’s
Sainsbury's Pilsner Zero Nolo Lager Review
Harsh carbonation and strange flavours make this one to avoid in my opinion.