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Heineken 0.0 Review

Heineken 0.0

A bang-on replica of full-strength Heineken; or, a classic lager with pleasant complexity

NON-ALCOHOLIC

Tasting Notes

Nose

Meadow/grassy notes. Same kind of lager dankness as the real deal

Palate

Some light fruitiness, some grass/straw. Less of the harsher notes of the alcoholic version. Low bitterness overall

Finish

A little more rounded than regular Heineken. A little dank; some light grassy bitterness. Touch of very light sweetness at the end

Putting words to something you’ve experienced for a long time can be surprisingly difficult. Iconic flavors and smells become so ingrained in our collective palates that they’re useful as comparisons to describe other flavors, but we don’t often stop to consider what they taste like in the first place. So it’s easy to identify when something tastes like Coca-Cola, but what does Coca-Cola taste like?

Heineken has been one of those measuring sticks for me; one of those beers to which all others are compared. As macros go, it sits right between easy drinking and complex, providing one of the more interesting drinking experiences that you can find at almost any bar. So I was quite excited when Heineken became one of the first macros to make a non-alcoholic version of their flagship beer in the craft N/A boom. Heineken itself isn’t Craft, but it’s still a damn fine beer to enjoy anywhere the second-largest brewer in the world distributes it. It also forces us to reflect and figure out: what does Heineken taste like, anyway?

Also, does Heineken 0.0 taste like regular Heineken? Is it any good? Does it scratch the same itch? Let’s find out.

heinekene zero can.

What Does Heineken 0.0 Taste Like?

Heineken 0.0 opens up on the nose with meadowy and grassy hop aromas. It carries the characteristic “pilsner dankness” that I find and enjoy in Heineken and a lot of other European lagers. If you’re drinking from one of their iconic green bottles, you might also get a bit of light-struck skunkiness – technically a flaw, but part of the experience and sometimes even preferred. Overall, the smell is pretty dead-on with regular Heineken, if a bit fainter

Take a sip, and you’ll find a continuation of the meadow/grassy theme, with some light fruitiness layered behind. This isn’t a particularly sweet beer, but the fruit notes pop a bit more than they do in the alcoholic version. Bitterness is low, but those dank hops persist into the finish. Body is a positive point as well – it’s probably the most difficult component for non-alcoholic brewers to produce well, but Heineken 0.0 has a medium body that faithfully replicates the full-strength version. 

The beer finishes with more grass, and just a touch of sweetness. As with Guinness, this sweetness on the tail end is one of the few characteristics separating it from the real deal, but it’s even more subtle in the Heineken. Overall, Heineken 0.0 finishes clean, with a light bitterness before that sweetness closes everything out. 

Does Heineken 0.0 Taste Like Regular Heineken?

In short, yes. I’ve been pleased overall with the majority of macro brewers, who are managing to almost always to make their non-alcoholic versions taste very close to the “real thing.” Heineken 0.0 falls into this category as well, delivering almost identical taste and aroma, with only slightly lighter body. Fruit flavors are slightly more prominent, but definitely don’t overwhelm. That light sweetness I mentioned before does tag onto the end, just barely squeaking out before the flavor completely disappears on the palate. 

heineken zero light and regular.

Interestingly, if you drink Heineken 0.0. next to regular strength, all of the whopping 5% ABV start to taste downright boozy. Both the nose and body feel more expressive and aggressive, which aren’t adjectives that typically come to mind when drinking the Dutch lager by itself. Yet, this isn’t to overshadow that in isolation, the non-alcoholic version tastes almost identical, making it a great substitute without the booze.

Pairings

Heineken 0.0 is going to pair well with basically the same foods as regular Heineken. So we’re thinking pizza, fish and chips, and pub grub.