When it comes to eliminating sugar from a diet, most people these days just keep calm, carry on and dump a boatload of sugar substitutes into their drinks. So, I suppose it isn’t too much of a surprise that the beer above exists. Yep, that’s a Belgian sugar-free beer, lugged back from Belgium by a member of our tasting panel.
The fact that it’s contract brewed at De Proef is probably the most surprising. Belgian company Stepaja, which grows and manufactures the naturally sweet stevia plant, is the brains behind the concept. Here’s a bit about the line from the company’s website:
“The Stepaja company, which specializes in foods for diabetics, decided to brew a special beer without sugar. De Proefbrouwerij developed 2 magic beers: the STEPA triple (pale, 8% alc.v/v) and the STEPA amber (dark, 6 % v/v) both having less than 0.3% residual sugar. Special malts were selected to optimize taste and a controlled fermentation in the bottle was employed to reduce the sugar content to below 0.3%.”
The bottle pictured above is the tripel, and I should note the label lists it as having 43 calories. It was, let’s say, interesting. Up front, the beer showcased some light bready malts and spice, but an intensely sweet, almost diet soda profile took over and lasted long into the finish. Honestly, it tasted like someone poured sugar substitute into the beer. Not surprisingly, it currently holds a Ratebeer score of 22.
After a quick Google search, I found that Stepa isn’t the only sugar-free beer brand. There’s another in Belgium called Caulier, which claims, “Tasting a Caulier beer is certainly part of a balanced nutrition,” and one over in Japan from Kirin called Koi Aji.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen gluten-free beer evolve into something quite tasty, but from my brief introduction into the world of sugar-free beer (or, rather, beer using sugar substitutes like stevia), I don’t see that happening.