How did Nirvana brewery come about?
Nirvana came about when my dad quit drinking. We’ve always been a family of beer lovers, and enjoyed sharing the latest craft beers together, but then when my dad went sober the beers that were available to him were suddenly very limited, and not particularly enjoyable! Me and my brother set about trying to find a non-alcoholic beer that he could enjoy, and in the process ended up deciding to make our own. We met another business partner who had the brewing background and we teamed up to start Nirvana.
Why did Nirvana decide to start brewing a non-alcoholic beer?
As a brewery we have only ever made non alcoholic or low alcohol beers. Our intention from the start was to create really good beer that can be enjoyed by everyone, whether they drink alcohol or not. We felt that there was a really good range of craft beers for drinkers - the craft beer scene has really taken off and there are so many great breweries in the UK now that the choice is of beer was amazing. However it wasn’t the case for alcohol-free beer and we wanted to change that. By specialising in alcohol-free only we’ve been able to experiment with different techniques which produce different results, as well as testing out unique styles which you wouldn’t see alcohol-free versions of normally.
What is unique about Nirvana beer?
Nirvana is the UK’s only physical brewery that is dedicated to alcohol-free. We have our own tanks and brewery in East London - something which other brands who contract-brew don’t have. It gives us a sense of identity and connection with our local area, but it’s also really been key to experimenting and testing out original ideas and recipes. We were the first alcohol-free brand in the UK to launch a range of <0.5% beers, so we’ve been at the forefront of the mindful drinking movement since the beginning, and have become somewhat experts in the many different ways to make alcohol-free beer! Unlike bigger brands we don’t de-alcoholise most of our beers using an artificial process, instead our recipes use the proper craft beer methods and ingredients that give it that really fresh taste.
What has been the most difficult challenge for your brewery in producing a non-alcoholic beer that tastes good?
There are so many challenges to producing a good tasting alcohol-free beer! You have to get creative with ways to create the same body, as low and no alcohol beers need to have a much lower amount of malt-sugar to stop it from fermenting into too much alcohol. Our biggest challenge has been achieving this body without turning to artificial ingredients or processes. From the beginning we wanted our beers to be as fresh and natural as they can be, so we have avoided dealcoholising processes and ingredients such as lactose which can give an added sense of sweetness, but is non-vegan and can have an artificial taste. We’ve ended up embracing the slightly lighter body that is common with alcohol-free but celebrating the fresh ingredients, in particular increasing the flavour of the beer with lots of good quality hops. We also use a special yeast which helps us get a full body whilst keeping the alcohol content low.
In your opinion what does the future of the non-alcoholic beer category look like?
I see the future of non-alcoholic beer going much the same way as the craft beer scene has done over the past 10 years. Something which was previously a niche has become mainstream and now a booming industry, and I believe the same will happen for low and no alcohol. As more brands enter the market, new customers also follow once they see the excitement and taste how good this style of beer has become. Nirvana will continue to keep innovating and bringing new styles into the category, and hopefully change a few peoples perceptions along the way. I believe that a really good alcohol-free beer can add so much joy to someones life, wether they’re drinking or not! It did for my dad who is teetotal, and it has done for my brother and I who still drink alcohol. It’s not just something for non-drinkers anymore, and I think theres a lot of beer lovers just like us who have yet to discover their Nirvana!
Discover more about Nirvana Brewery here