Lager / Clausthaler NA / <0.5%
Clausthaler “Original” (also known as “Classic”) is 0.5% lager from Germany. Get tasting notes and info on stockists, carbs, sugar, calories and ingredients, in this review.
I think one of my favorite traits that any brewery can have is the originality to not fit into any of the typical boxes. This goes just as much, perhaps even more so, for non-alcoholic brewing operations. There are the traditional lagers that simply taste like a watered down version of the flagship alcoholic brews. Then there are the new, “hip” brands trying to stay with the times and cash in on trends like the rise of health-conscious consumers. But some companies are able to find a middle ground that straddles both worlds or put an entirely new twist on their products that takes me by surprise.
I haven’t tried any of the beers made by Clausthaler yet, but I think you would be forgiven if, at first glance, they appear like a basic knockoff of Heineken and other imported lagers. But when I looked into their line of brews a little bit more I get the impression that despite being around for a long time they have found ways to innovate and keep up with the changing industry. And while I was tempted to indulge in one of their more experimental varieties of beer, I figured I better establish a baseline first. That is why I settled on composing this Clausthaler Original Non-Alcoholic Beer review and letting you know which preconceptions stand up and which don’t.
Clausthaler Original Non-Alcoholic Beer Review
The reason that I say it would be easy to mistake Clausthaler Original for a standard import is because the bottle looks nearly identical to that of a Heineken. It is made out of that traditional European green glass and has a white label with a touch of red. Unlike the Dutch Heineken, however, this beer is brewed in Germany. There is nothing fancy to the packaging, just the classic European look. It does tell us that each bottle contains 96 calories, which is rather high for an NA offering.
Poured into a glass, Clausthaler still gives you just about exactly what you expect. The liquid is a nice shade of gold, with a generous amount of carbonation. It doesn’t result in a terribly large foamy head but continues rising from the bottom of the glass as the beer sits for a bit.
Aroma is a very polarizing area of evaluation for all of these green bottle, European beers, and this is no exception. Some people refer to it as a skunky scent, and it turns them off from these varieties entirely. It is combination of grassy, bready, and weedy with a light malt backbone. I have always been someone who enjoys the occasional Heineken, so that aroma doesn’t bother me, but if you are one of those people just know that this beer also possesses it.
In both appearance and aroma, this beer has done nothing to dispel the presumed similarities to Heineken and other brews of the sort. That’s a good thing as far as I’m concerned, but I can’t truly answer “Is Clausthaler Original Non-Alcoholic Beer good?” until after I take a few swigs.
Is Clausthaler Original Non-Alcoholic Beer Good?
The answer to this question is clear on the first sip. It is a solid but not overwhelming “yes.” Unless, of course, you are the kind of person who finds these beers skunky, because has that exact quality that is offensive to some. But it is not hiding that at any step along the way.
It starts up front with the grassy and bready malt that contains hints of barley. There is a slight bit of hop bitterness that does well to balance out that malt, but it seems extremely tame in comparison to most of the beers on the market these days.
I have heard the term cereal used to describe beer quite often and never really understood that. But once the word entered into my brain as I was tasting this brew, I started to get it. There is a definite backbone that is reminiscent of Cheerios or another grainy cereal.
Mouthfeel was always going to be an important trait. Would it be heavier like the lager that it is or toned back too far due to the NA quality? I found that it struck quite a nice balance. Definitely heavier and richer than most non-alcoholic offerings.
The drinkability on this beer is high in my opinion. It goes down smoothly despite that heavier body. There is a bit of a lingering grassy finish, but it is light enough as to not be bothersome.
Earning a high score from me isn’t all about following through on expectations, but that does go a long way. Finish reading this review to find out where I landed for my final Clausthaler Original Non-Alcoholic Beer rating.
Clausthaler Original Non-Alcoholic Beer Rating
As I said early on in this review, the reason that I chose to start with Clausthaler Original instead of one of their other varieties is so I could establish a baseline of quality for their line of beers. So from this one tasting experience, I can’t do much judgement regarding whether they are one of the non-alcoholic breweries that is successfully able to straddle the line between tradition and experimentation. What I can say with confidence after this sampling is that they know exactly what they are doing and deliver a product that is just what you would expect. No doubt they are capitalizing on the familiarity that many drinkers have with these green bottle beers, but they have also done a great job of mimicking those offerings, practically to a T.
The easiest way to predict whether you will enjoy this beer or not is to ask how you feel about Heineken. If you enjoy that distinct aroma and flavor profile, then there is no reason that I can see that you won’t find this beer tasty as well. If that kind of brew is one that turns you off, then maybe avoid this one. The fact that I know those characteristics aren’t for everybody prevents me from arriving at the highest possible score. But the level of quality here is enough for my to wrap up this Clausthaler Original Non-Alcoholic Beer review by giving it a score of 4 out of 5 stars.