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I hated BrewDogís first version of Nanny State (but then I think everything BrewDog do is either loved or hated - there's no middle ground any more), the 1.1% stupidly-hopped imperial mild. I liked the idea - a low ABV brew that still tastes recogniseable as a beer Ė it just tasted like over-stewed hop tea. I donít think many others liked it either and BrewDog tweaked the recipe and brought out a 0.5% version with toned-down hops (though using a list which reads like lupulin erotica: Centennial, Amarillo, Columbus, Cascade and Simcoe and dry-hopped with Centennial and Amarillo). Still liking the idea and wanting it to work, I bought a couple of bottles of the new batch.

It pours a russet, fiery-ember colour with a thick, lacing foam. The nose explodes with brutal hops, charred at the edges, roasted citrus, a subtle berry sweetness. The nose shocks and delights to begin but the more I drink the more I pick out the over-done flavours, the burnt rubber, the singed tropical fruit. Itís more intriguing than inviting, a kind of dig-around-and-see-what-you-find aroma. Itís relatively thin in the mouth, as youíd expect, but for 0.5% itís very impressive. Thereís very little sweetness, a dry astringency and some nuttiness then the hops arrive with less grace than a pissed-off tap-dancing rhino. It blasts in and explodes, rasping, hot, super-dry. You need to drink some more to ease the hop burn but the sweetness isnít there and those hops just pile-drive back through again, an onslaught of saliva-sapping bitterness. Itís not a great beer yet the whole time itís strangely intriguing, like looking at a pretty pre-op.

The 0.5% brew is better than the 1.1% version but that bitterness is just a real killer (and I tend to like the hoppy beers, dontcha know). The £1.79 per bottle price tag (plus postage on top) is also just too much when I can buy Punk for £1 a bottle Ė I like at least a little bang for my buck. I would like more breweries to make good low ABV beers. BrewDogís Edge is superb at 2.5% beer and Thornbridge have just brewed The Light, a 2.9% beer, so there are a few examples out there, but I think thereís space for more. Anyone else interested in low alcohol beer (so long as it's nice and tastes like actual, real beer)?

As an aside, I was drinking this while cooking a chilli-hot Quorn and vegetable curry, which, when you think about it, is probably the food equivalent of Nanny State.