Clear Head: Less alcohol than a ripe banana?

Any regular pub-goer can see that the ‘low and no alcohol’ movement has been on the rise in the past few years. Bristol Beer Factory has always stood proudly at the forefront of the craft beer movement, and our contribution to the low-and-no scene is no different. We released Clear Head 0.5% IPA back in 2020, before our Bristolian counterparts, when we had worked on a recipe that we knew was worthy of the BBF and Talk Club names. Read the back story to find out why it came about.

Clear Head

As for the science of ABV content, one of the most common questions people ask is exactly how we make Clear Head alcohol free. And actually, what that even means! In Europe and the USA, anything below 0.5% ABV is properly known as ‘alcohol-free’. That terminology has become commonplace even in the UK, where it gets a little more complicated. Drinkaware refer to measures below 0.05% as alcohol free, meaning Clear Head officially falls into their ‘de-alcoholised’ category. Besides the fact that doesn’t sound as catchy, why aren’t we – and all the other companies making 0.5% drinks in the booming market – using this lesser-known terminology?

For a start, in the brewing industry specifically, a ‘de-alcoholised’ beer is often referring to those that have used a fancy piece of kit which removes the alcohol via osmosis. We definitely don’t have one of those, not in our humble South Bristol brewery. To find out how the magic happens, let’s check in with Tristan, our head brewer and the creator of Clear Head…

Clear Head

“Clear Head is brewed to 0.5% using a high temperature mash technique and a fast 24-hour fermentation with a special yeast. This is instead of a standard 72-hour fermentation resulting in a 4.5% ABV, for example. Then we dry hop with Citra for a true IPA flavour. And boom. Clear Head!”

That’s us memorising the phrase ‘high temperature mash technique’ to repeat in the pub, then! We won’t be trying to say it fast after a few jars of anything other than Clear Head, mind.

Oh, and as for the banana thing… a low ABV of 0.5% (found in both ripe bananas and a glass of orange juice) won’t actually be able to get you inebriated, no matter how much you consume. Your body will simply process it faster than you can feel; so no, there isn’t exactly alcohol in your ‘alcohol-free’ beverages. That little half a % will give more flavour and mouthfeel to the product, without spiking your blood alcohol level. Designated drivers, you’re safe to crack open another can!

Cheers to Clear Head – drink with purpose.

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