The Staropramen Brewery is a Czech brewer based in Prague, and is the second largest in the country by sales volume. They were founded in 1869, during the period known as the ‘Czech renaissance’. The brand name translates to ‘old spring’ in English, and presumably relates to the original water source that the brewery used. The brewery was originally built on an 18,000 square meter area of Prague’s Smíchov district, known as ‘the pit’. The company’s growth was steady during the first half of the 20th century, but the brewery was nationalised during the communist rule after the end of WWII, along with all other Czechoslovakian breweries at the time. From 1992 the brewery went through the hands of several owners, including the ever-hungry brewery-consumer AB InBev, but as of April 2012 is now in the hands of Molson Coors.
Arguably Staropramen’s most popular beer is it’s pilsner lager, known as Jedenáctka in Czech, but here in the UK it tends to just be referred to as ‘a bottle of Staropramen please’. Staropramen 0.0% was released to the UK market in March 2023, but the brewery has ventured into the non-alcoholic world before, with it’s ‘Nealko’ 0.5% version, and with producing nolo lagers for both Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer supermarkets. The Sainsbury’s beer was discontinued a while back, before I started this blog, but I’ve been told it was a quality option at the time. M&S’ Czech Lager is still available, but is a poor choice in my opinion. For me the original Staropramen occupies a space alongside most other macro lagers – a solid choice but nothing much to make it stand out from the crowd. For most people that is not a bad thing, and I’m expecting this nolo version to be more of the same, and take it’s place next to Heineken 0.0, Peroni and Corona as a perfectly acceptable supermarket-friendly alcohol-free beer. Let’s see shall we?
The beer pours a dark golden colour, with good clarity, and a small frothy head that soon dissipates into islands of foam on the surface of our drink. The nose is full of spicy and herby Saaz hops and pilsner malts, getting a bit skunky but still maintaining pleasant aromas. It’s very appetising, and this could easily be any decent Czech lager.
On tasting we get pilsner malt with some of that Saaz spice, but we then quickly swerve into bitterness, with a touch of the carbonic acid metallic edge that used to be prevalent in many older non-alcoholic beers. It’s not overpowering, but certainly doesn’t add anything positive to the drinking experience. Unless you like that metallic taste I suppose… The body is fine, probably propped up by the fructose syrup, and the mouthfeel is smooth, though we get some tongue aggro from the high carbonation. There’s a slight dry bitter finish to the drink.
Staropramen 0.0% sets itself up well, with a lovely nose and inviting deep colour. The taste is however pretty two dimensional, almost a trip back in time to a decade ago in nolo terms. It’ll quench your thirst and will accompany food perfectly well, but for a tipple on it’s own it’ll be pretty disappointing.
Buy Staropramen 0.0%
Four-packs of Staropramen 0.0% bottles are turning up in various supermarket nolo sections – I’ve spotted it in both Asda and Morrisons. You can of course choose to buy them online too:
|Nutritional Information (per 100ml, taken from the side of the bottle)|
|Water, Barley Malt, Barley, Fructose Syrup, Hops, Natural Flavouring|
|Country of Production||Serbia|
|Brewer||Aptinska pivara – https://www.staropramen.com/|
Staropramen 0.0% Review
As a macro alcohol-free lager it’s up there with it’s peers, but quite a flat taste lets it down. One for pairing with strong-tasting food.