I am wondering if you would be interested in sampling a non-alcoholic beer flavour soft drink?
That’s how the email started. It also included a picture of the product.
My reply was simple: It sounds terrible but I won’t judge it until I’ve tried it.
Equator is made by Beverage Brands who produce WKD. It contains 0.00% alcohol, 0 calories and 0% sugar. The ingredients include ‘Barley Malt Extract’ and ‘Iso Hop Extract’ plus colour, flavouring and sweetener. It is a beer flavoured drink, an alternative soft drink or something for the health-conscious, perhaps. What they've done is attempt to create a beer flavour drink, minus booze and calories, in a lab.
But, like I told the guy from the PR agency, I wouldn’t judge until I’ve tasted, so I opened a bottle.
The first surprise is the tinge of electric-green in the colour, kind of like it’s going radioactive. Given the makers of the drink and their use of bold colours, I guess it’s understandable that creating a subtle gold would be difficult, like asking cage fighter to pirouette. You get good foam to begin but that doesn’t last long and then it looks dead. Next is the smell: it’s like lime and soda mixed with Shloer, which is another Beverage Brands drink. Then taste: very thin, like soda water, then the faintest hint of the shandy you used to be able to buy in cans from the corner shop, which is soon replaced by nothing. It doesn’t taste like beer and there’s this weird almost-lime thing going on, like they’ve tried to mimic the dregs of a bottle of Corona. It’s not very nice.
I can’t ever see a time when I’d order an Equator. And I don’t really see the gap in the market for a beer which tries to taste like beer but isn’t beer. It might sell millions and then I’ll look like a dick, but it’s not something I’ll buy. The best thing about it is the name: at 0.00%, Equator works well...
There are some decent alcohol-free beers on the market, especially some of the wheat beers. But they are made like beer - they are brewed - with the ingredients of beer, not replicated in the factory. It does leave me wondering if you could make a great-tasting beer in a laboratory from the ingredients of beer, perhaps a big IPA with loads of malt extract, big iso C-hop additions and booze blended with carbonated water... That’s something I’d love to try.