Stiegl Freibier is the first non-alcoholic beer from Austria that I’ve tried, but like their German neighbours, Austrians are no stranger to the alkoholfrei movement. Freibier has been around a while, originally making it’s debut in 2014, but it’s Salzburg-based brewer Stieglbrauerei has a history that stretches back hundreds of years. It was first documented back in 1492, and gets it’s name from a small staircase that led from the brewery to the ‘Almkanal’, an artificial waterway in Salzburg (‘stiege’ being the German word for a narrow flight of stairs). This staircase also serves as the brewery’s logo, with red steps plastered all over their labels, even going so far as reshaping the bar codes on their bottles into the same shape. The slices of bread that you get in their bars and restaurants throughout Austria also come in a stepped shape. They obviously have embraced their heritage.
The brewery has remained in private hands since it’s founding, and has been owned by the Kiener family since 1901. A nice surprise in these days of everything being owned by Anheuser–Busch InBev or the Heineken group. To have survived this long without a hostile takeover speaks volumes about the quality of their output, and sure enough they are one of the most popular breweries in their homeland, with fans over the years including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. But the brewery hasn’t remained in the past with it’s beer output, and not only have they embraced the alcohol-free world, they are also open to trying out new hop varieties. Stiegl Freibier uses the Saphir hop in it’s recipe, which has only been around since 2002 and was developed to be an alternative to German staple hop Hallertauer Mittelfrüher. Saphir gives floral, herbal, and sweet citrus aromas and is used in many pilsner lagers. Let’s see what sort of presence it has in Stiegl Freibier.
The lager pours a nice pale golden colour with good clarity. Try as we might, the only head we get consists of some foamy splotches on the surface. On the nose we get malt, with an almost golden syrup sweet aroma. Along with this there is a whiff of noble hops, subtle floral and spice aromas.
On tasting the beer we get malt and toasted grains, with an almost honey sweetness. Then we get some interest coming through from the hops, imparting a slightly spicy, slightly floral aroma, with some minimal citrus bitterness. The carbonation is medium to high but the body remains quite light, giving a slick mouthfeel. The finish is short and slightly bitter.
Whilst it may not blow your socks off, Stieglbrauerei have brewed an AF lager that is very easy and pleasant to drink and could easily transport your mind back to a bar on the continent, sipping a beer while watching the world go by. Stiegl Freibier retains the brewer’s quality and is certainly worth picking up if you happen to spot it in the wild.
Buy Stiegl Freibier
I’ve seen bottles of Stiegl Freibier adorning the shelves at certain branches of Tesco, and like everything else nowadays it’s available online, specifically from these shops:
|Nutritional Information (per 100ml, taken from the side of the bottle)
|Water, Barley Malt, Wheat Malt, Hops, Yeast, Fermentation Carbonic Acid
|Country of Production
|Stiegelbrauerei – https://www.stiegl.at/en
Stiegl Freibier Alcohol-Free Lager Review
Nice easy to drink alcohol-free lager, perfect for sunny days in Salzburg, or wherever you happen to be.