Anyone who has ventured ‘north of the border’ to Scotland will know Tennent’s, their beer and branding is everywhere to be seen up there. Tennent’s lager is the top-selling lager in Scotland, with over 60% of the market in their pocket. They’re also prolific sponsors of Scottish sports and recreational activities, having sponsored the national football team, both Celtic and Rangers, the Edinburgh fringe festival, and Scotland’s largest music festival T in the Park. You’ll see their ‘T’ logo adorning a wide variety of objects and places, especially around Glasgow where their brewery is located. Indeed, anyone who has braved to venture into the Glaswegian east end will probably have encountered the malty smell periodically emanating from Wellpark Brewery in Duke Street, or as my American buddy described it – ‘smells like Cheerios’!
Tennent’s Zero was launched in October 2020, targeting the quarter of Scots who had apparently expressed an interest in trying nolo alternatives to their usual tipple. Made using the same fresh water shipped down from Loch Katrine in the Trossachs nature reserve, and utilising local barley malt, the brewer says they’ve attempted to stay as close to their original Tennent’s lager blueprint for this alcohol-free version. I lived in Edinburgh for nearly a decade, and in that time drank copious amounts of Tennent’s – anything else would have been frowned upon. However, I don’t think I ever drank it because of the taste. I’m actually struggling to remember any taste to it except malt, and maybe the slightest hint of hop. For all intents and purposes this might as well be a blind taste test – let’s get on with it!
The beer pours a bright orange golden colour with excellent clarity and streams of steady carbonation visible. Though a touch of froth is produced during the pour, the beer is as headless as Mary Queen of Scots. Inhaling, I’m immediately taken back to the east end of Glasgow – it is indeed strong cereal grains, with an almost nutty sweetness. Despite ‘many different varieties’ of hops being used by Tennent’s, including Herkules, Tettnang and Aurora, I can’t discern any. It’s just pure malt on the nose.
Biscuity malt and cereal grains are the tastes that dominate on tasting, but in fairness the sweetness is toned down, preventing the beer from becoming the equivalent of carbonated Horlicks. There’s even a slight bitterness there, finally the hops are attempting to take on some of the heavy lifting. In the beer’s favour though is the body of the beer, which is surprisingly good, with a slight syrupy feel, and despite the numerous visible bubbles the carbonation is a good level and not harsh. We get a slight bitter finish to the drink, with a hint of stone fruit to it.
Tennent’s Zero is certainly maltier than it’s full-fat brethren, but hey, that’s what some drinkers like in their beer. For me there’s not enough of that spicy hop I look for in a lager, and with the amount of malt on show here it’s heading towards Bavaria 0.0 Original territory, though thankfully is nowhere near as sweet. I really hope this doesn’t capture 60% of the AF market in Scotland, as there are other more deserving breweries up there such as Jump Ship and Brulo.
Buy Tennent’s Zero
You can probably get your mitts on Tennent’s Zero in many pubs in Scotland. It’s available in supermarkets such as Tesco and Asda, and if you really want to get your hands on some can try one of the following online shops:
|Nutritional Information (per 100ml, taken from the side of the bottle)
|Water, Malted Barley, Hop Extract
|Country of Production
|Tennent Caledonian Breweries UK Ltd – https://tennentcaledonian.com/
|Yes, Vegan approved
Tennent's Zero Non-Alcoholic Lager Review
One for the malt monsters out there. I never knew the Scots had such an allergy to hops.