When the powers that be at MALT suggested that the team cover some no or low alcohol alternatives for a week long feature, I thought this would be the shortest piece I’d ever need to write. Just one word, in fact.


So, looking to expand on this a little, I managed to double the word count.

Tap water.

And, then, it occurred to me that not every MALT reader is lucky enough to be living in Scotland which, undoubtedly, has some of the best quality tap water in the entire country or, indeed, the world.

Regularly visiting my family in the south west of England, I often fail to remember that the Brita Filter Jugs are there, sitting in the fridge, and instead head straight to the tap to grab myself a glass of water. The supply of tap water at home is refreshing and odour free; in the south west it tastes like it’s just been diverted from the local swimming baths. Having also lived in the south and south east of England, where a significant proportion of my salary went on Calgon in an attempt to preclude the annual event known as The Renewal of the Washing Machine, I can say that in these areas, the tap water tastes far worse still.

Now, each of these water supplies has obviously passed some kind of quality control process; it’s just that one tastes good and the others taste shite. Yet, it wasn’t until I’d tasted the good stuff that I realised just how shite the others really were. And, in retrospect, what made the latter seem even more shite was just how much more I was paying for them. And if there isn’t some kind of parallel there with whisky, I give in.

So, for those of you who are not blessed with living in Scotland – and also because sustaining a review of something so uninspiringly ordinary as tap water was always going to be a tough gig – my contingency no or low alcohol beverage is Nanny State.

Coming in at less than 0.5%, it is, ironically, the only beer from Brewdog that I’ll go out of my way to drink. That’s not because of any particular dislike for Brewdog per se. It’s just that with beer, much like with tap water, we’re spoilt here in Scotland and, with the likes of Campervan and Pilot virtually on my doorstep, there always seems to be another brewery drawing me in first.

Now, my first experience with alcohol free beer was in Belfast, roughly twelve kilos ago, in 2015. I had just completed the city’s marathon achieving a PW – that’s a Personal Worst, between you and me – and Erdinger were waiting at the finish line giving out bottles of their Alkoholfrei beer. They justified their presence on the grounds that Erdinger AF is an isotonic drink. Under different circumstances, I might have benefitted from its energising properties but, on this occasion, let’s just say the bubbles didn’t go down too well.

After that, though, whenever I was out and wanted to create the illusion that I was drinking ‘real’ beer, in order to avoid the pressure and hassle from others, I’d order a bottle of Erdinger AF and swiftly pour it into a glass. Until I tried Nanny State, that is.

These days, I no longer feel the need to justify ‘not drinking’ when I’m out and so will quite happily ask for a soft drink or a glass of tap water. Nonetheless, the difference between Erdinger AF and Nanny State is that, for me, the latter does actually taste like ‘real’ beer.

I’m by no means a beer aficionado – in fact my beer knowledge amounts to something just slightly greater than hee-haw – so, if you want to find out more about the ingredients and technical stuff for Nanny State, head over to Brewdog’s site. In the meantime, though, here are my thoughts:

BrewDog Nanny State – review

Color: russet.

On the nose: strong note of pine; fresh oranges; tropical fruits with pineapple and mango coming to mind; malty biscuity notes at the fore.

In the mouth: Farley’s Rusks; hoppy bitterness; grapefruit; hints of orange peel mixed with plenty of notes of pine.


Credit where credit’s due. Without the usual excessive malty flavour of other no/low alcohol beers, Brewdog hasn’t just created a beer which I’d choose as an alcohol free alternative; it’s one that I’d happily drink in its own right.

Score: 8/10

Scottish Tap Water, by the way, scores 10/10.
Photograph kindly provided by BrewDog.


After eighteen years as a secondary school teacher, I decided to leave the hell that teaching has become and set out on my own. These days, I drink significantly less whisky... Owner of Kask Whisky, co-director of the Fife Whisky Festival and proud resident of the Costa del Leith.

  1. John says:

    Hi Justine,

    Since I don’t know you very well and I’ve never been to Scotland I’m curious if the ff below is serious or not XD hehe

    “And, then, it occurred to me that not every MALT reader is lucky enough to be living in Scotland which, undoubtedly, has some of the best quality tap water in the entire country or, indeed, the world.”

  2. Justine says:

    Hi John,

    Yep, totally serious (she types whilst sipping from a glass containing the best tap water in the entire world :-))


    1. Ewan says:

      I used to drink this on my being good nights, but now it’s been replaced by the Punk AF by Brewdog, or Infinite Session IPA – both still taste of beer but to my palate better testing than Nanny State. Good manners too.

        1. Stuart says:

          Hi Justine,

          Funnily enough I love this brewdog and just like yourself, it’s the only one I would lean towards.
          Not only does it taste nice but it actually tastes like it is alcoholic unlike all those other 0% or low alcohol attempts from other brewers.


          1. Justine says:

            Hi Stuart. Thanks for your comment. I agree; it doesn’t have that ‘cold ovaltine’ taste that some AF beers have. What’s interesting to come out of this, though, is the other AF beers others have suggested. So I think I’ll give those a go as well and see how they compare.

      1. Justine says:

        Hi Ewan. I’ll give the Punk AF a go next time I’m at Brewdog in Edinburgh. They’ve recently started their Deskdog co-working space for freelancers. At the end of your session, you get a free beer 🙂

  3. Welsh Toro says:

    I almost passed this review by. Alcohol free reviews don’t really rock my boat. However, I’ve been interested in the Nanny State, precisely because I’m so unlikely to buy it. So, it’s great to see a review on Malt because I might just give it a go. I need to wind it down a little and this might be an entry. I’ll pick one up on the way home. Thanks Justine. WT

      1. Welsh Toro says:

        I like it. I’m old enough to remember the original attempts at low alcohol beer and a sorry thing they were. You might as well go on the lime and soda. The Nanny State was far better. The body is a little thin but that’s to be expected. No complaints about the flavour. We’re on the same path I think – I was getting grapefruit, white peach and some nutty hoppiness. A crisp drying finish and a good thirst quencher overall. Satisfying alternative.

  4. PBMichiganWolverine says:

    After reading this article, I picked up a six pack of this from here in NJ, USA ( where the tap water is probably not as good as where Justine lives ).
    So, I’m not a beer drinking at all. More of a red wine and whisk(e)y person. But…this I liked. At 0.5% ABV (which by the way, is the same amount in a ripe banana!), and 25 calories and <1gm carb….yeah, I can make this a regular thing. Thanks Justine!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *