Take the Milwaukee challenge: Sharp's vs. Pabst NA
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Labels describe it as a "malt beverage," but is non-alcoholic beer near-beer or an entirely different animal? We decided to check it out for ourselves, popping the tops of two Milwaukee-made NA brews and one from Europe. Only the Cream City near-beers, however, were eligible to win this Milwaukee Challenge.
Although Miller's Sharp's was the winner, it only edged Pabst NA -- also brewed by Miller - by one vote. Here's what our judges had to say.
Molly Snyder Edler
Pick: Pabst NA
Although I immediately was turned off by the look of the Pabst NA can - I can't stand the colors red and green together, not even during Christmas -- I still found this non-alcoholic beer to slightly trump the Sharp's.
Both of beers have less than .05 percent alcohol content and both have a mere 58 calories, but the Pabst has a little more taste, although it didn't really taste like beer. It is slightly sweeter with a trace-of-beer aftertaste.
Truth be told, I found both of these beers to taste awful, but if forced to drink one, I would choose the Pabst NA. The only time in my life I drank non-alcoholic beer was during pregnancy, and even then I only drank Clausthaler.
I honestly can't believe I "prefer" Sharp's to something else, but if there is anything less palatable than a non-alcoholic can of Sharp's it might just be the N/A version of Pabst. I expected it to be watered down -- even the regular stuff has a fairly mild flavor -- but this can of faux suds tasted more like a fizzy helping of unflavored La Croix Sparkling Water than anything resembling beer.
There simply was nothing to it. The Sharp's pulled ahead by producing a slightly tangy aftertaste, although that might have just been the taste of the can. It was hard to tell.
Let's get the disclaimer out of the way: I am not a beer snob. I like just about anything that is cold, cheap or being purchased by someone else.
I drink Miller products over other domestic brands because I started doing it in my teen years and, well, I like to support the home team in that regard.
That may be a major reason I chose Sharp's. It reminded me of High Life, without the head or body. (Imagine a glass of High Life that had a handful of ice cubes melting in it and you get the picture). Most NA beers are not hoppy or malty, but have a heavy corn flavor, almost like corn-flavored water. But, something about the Sharp's felt normal to me.
The Pabst had a golden color and a surprisingly foamy head, but didn't seem as drinkable to me. It had a bit of a fruity finish and tonic-water texture, which one of my colleagues coined "beer-flavored La Croix."
Bottom line: I wouldn't go out of my way to drink either of these, but if I was on an alcohol fast or unable to imbibe because of painkillers or other circumstances, I could see using them to wash down a hot dog or a slab of pizza.
Given a choice, I'd stick with the Sharp's.
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I was really hoping that this article would be a study of which N/A beer you could throw the farthest.
I was drinking at a football game and I knew I would have to drive home, so after about 3 beers I switched from free Miller Lite to Sharps and I couldn't tell the difference. It tasted fine. I think having a beer in your hand (or what looks like a beer) is just part of the social process.
I second the call on Kaliber. St. Pauli's also makes a tasty NA. Both of these are in their own class compared to Sharps and O'douls.
I agree HeritageSpringer, Kaliber is a great NA beer; one of the best. Another good one, surprisingly, is O'Doul's Amber (by Budweiser), which is the best from the big guys. For what it's worth, I think the Pabst NA is better than Sharp's. Sharp's is too watery. Pabst at least has some malt flavor.
If you want a good NA beer buy a Kaliber. The bottle looks like a real beer and it actually tastes pretty close to real beer. I think you will be surprised. It comes from the makers of Guiness.
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