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Guinness 0 Review

Guinness 0

The mad lads have done it: a respectable non-alcoholic analog for the classic Guinness Draught

NON-ALCOHOLIC

Tasting Notes

Nose

Classic Guinness. Roasty malt, chocolate.

Palate

Classic Guinness. Smooooooooth and creamy, rich body (thanks nitro). Milk chocolate, lighter roast coffee, maybe a hint of blackberry? Malty goodness. Body is only ever so slightly thinner than regular Guinness. I'd also say that the fruit flavors are slightly more pronounced, while the roasty flavors drop back a bit.

Finish

Guess what? Classic Guinness. A little bitterness in there, but balanced by the sweeter notes. In fact, the only other piece (besides the body) that even gets close to giving this away as non-alcoholic is a touch more sweetness on the finish that you don’t get with regular Guinness.

By the Numbers

Calories

57 calories/12oz

Alcohol

<0.5% ABV (Non-Alcoholic)

Ingredients

Water, Malted Barley, Barley, Roasted Barley, Fructose, Natural Flavourings, Hops, Yeast


The mad lads have done it.

Not long ago, I was thinking: “I love nitro beers; I really wish Guinness made a non-alcoholic version.” Apparently someone was listening. Soon enough, I spotted a four pack of these beauties on the shelf, and before long I was cracking one open. Here’s what I found:

Does Guinness 0 Taste Like Real Guinness?

Yes! This beer nails the flavor, body, and texture of regular Guinness, with only minor differences that give it away as non-alcoholic. I was blown away the first time I tried it, and only noticed any of these differences when I sat down with the two side by side.

can of guinness zero next to a can of guinness draught.

Having experienced both, I can now usually pick out those markers by themselves, but they’re still subtle. If you do the same side-by-side test yourself, you might notice a touch less body in the Zero, slightly more prominent fruit notes over roasty toasty notes, and a small amount of extra sweetness on the finish. I have a separate, in-depth article comparing the two, which also includes some of the history surrounding Guinness.

Frankly, getting this close to recreating all the details of a specific regular beer with a non-alcoholic version is nothing short of amazing. Brewing a non-alcoholic beer that just tastes “not bad” and “like real beer” is enough of a feat of brew science and experimentation. Nowadays, enough breweries have figured out the secrets to brewing great tasting NA IPAs and pilsners and wheat beers — beers of particular styles. But nailing the flavor profile of an existing beer, without the alcohol? That’s a sizable, additional challenge. 

So Does Guinness Zero Taste Good?

This will be a bit more subject to your personal tastes and preferences, but I can give a general recommendation of this as a good try for Guinness fans, lighter stout fans, and anyone who’s looking for a solid, balanced non-alcoholic brew that shines in its simplicity. 

First, I’m a fan of Guinness. That comes partly from a love of everything nitro — coffee, beer, soda, I would probably even drink nitrogenated water (can we make that happen? hmmm…). I also love the simple comfort found in Guinness Draught. It’s not the most adventurous, outlandish beer in the world, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s a solid stout that you can find almost anywhere. It’s familiar. It’s pleasant. It’s never going to give you up, never going to let you down…

It’s like an old friend, with warming roasty notes, a lovely texture, but an easy-drinking nature, especially when compared to the 13% ABV peanut butter and Szechuan pepper stout silliness that some places are pouring now. For all of the mythology surrounding Guinness as a heavy beer, a “breakfast in a glass” (thanks marketing), it’s actually a light beer in terms of calories and alcohol content. Guinness Draught has 4.2% ABV, and 125 calories in a 12oz (355mL) serving — that’s just 23 more calories than a Coors Light, and the same exact ABV.

This probably helped the brewers at Guinness a bit, as lower ABV drinks are easier to replicate without any alcohol than those with higher ABVs. Alcohol is a flavor component itself and a flavor modifier, so the less you have to remove, the less work you have to do to achieve a similar beverage. 

What’s in a can of Guinness Zero?

While we’re talking about ingredients and ABV, here’s what you’ll find in a can of the non-alcoholic version: Guinness Zero has 57 calories in a 12oz (355mL) serving and <0.5% ABV. The American 14.9oz (441mL) can it’s typically sold in has 71 calories. Guinness 0 has all of the same ingredients as Guinnesss Draught, with the addition of fructose and natural flavourings.

The Differences

Back to Zero, my biggest criticism comes with the finish. It ends with a hint of sweetness that isn’t present in the Draught version — kind of a berry sweetness, following that blackberry note. It’s not sharp or particularly artificial tasting, but it exists where one would normally expect a light bitterness in regular Guinness. It’s also slightly fruitier overall than Draught, but not overwhelmingly.

The Verdict

In summary, Guinness Zero is great if you like regular Guinness. If you haven’t had Guinness Draught, then I’d say Guinness 0 is one of the better non-alcoholic stouts on the market right now. It’s definitely worth a shot if you’re looking for a darker NA beer, particularly one that isn’t too dark. I’m excited to see where the market for NA stouts goes, but I’ll be sipping a lot of these in the meantime.