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The non-alcoholic beer boom brings a new local brand to the shelves. So.Beer is part of a range of health drinks from a company called The Naked Collective, contract brewing at Larkin's, initially. At the helm is Niall Phelan, whom beer-watchers will remember as a co-founder of Rye River and sometime head of BrewDog's Irish operation. The company is generously providing vouchers for free four-packs until the end of this month, so I picked up one of each to give them a spin.

First out is the plain So.Beer Lager. It looks convincing: a bright and clear gold with a proper continental head. The aroma is sweet and quite worty, more like the wonky old-fashioned non-alcoholic beers of yesteryear than any modern iteration. The texture is light like a light lager, but has enough body to feel like beer; it's not watery, but is refreshing. The carbonation is gentle and tingly, which helps that. Its flavour is... slight. Malt sweetness is still at the centre, and there's a very faint lemon zest in the finish, which I'm guessing is hop-derived, but is much lower than I'd like, even in a plain lager. I found it impossible to convince myself I was drinking beer. As a malt-based soft drink it's passable. It's thirst-quenching and pleasant-tasting, as beer is, so it can be considered a substitute of sorts, but it didn't satisfy my need for a beer.

Unsurprisingly, it was a case of the same only moreso with So.Beer Hint of Grapefruit. Immediately on opening there was a blast of that fizzy grapefruit drink you had on holiday that time but haven't been able to find since. A deep sniff reveals something on the spectrum between Lemon Fanta and Lilt. The unfermented malt powder thing remains ever-present in the flavour, with the grapefruit strongest in the finish. The foretaste is very weak, however, and the whole taste is underwhelming. I preferred the plain one. Still, it's without technical fault and genuinely refreshing.

To be brutally honest, I think both of these would have been better off without the malt, presenting as water-and-hops or water-and-fruit soft drinks. Both listed bread yeast as the means of fermentation, which is not something I'd seen before, and I'm not sure it works. My recommendation is to leave beery thoughts behind when you're drinking them and you'll have a better time.