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Ranking Nonalcoholic Beers

August 18, 1988|DAN BERGER

Results of the Los Angeles Times non-alcoholic beer tasting, with approximate 6-pack prices:

1. Firestone Non-Alcoholic (Firestone Brewing Co., Santa Ynez, Calif., $4.50): A dark-beer kind of aroma, slightly caramelized and rich; creamy, hoppy and relatively beer-like aftertaste. Not much bitterness.

2. Kaliber (Guinness, $5.50): More ale-like aroma with slight burnt-molasses character. Tasty and not unlike a light beer. Slightly bitter aftertaste, with short flavors. Adequate hoppiness.

3. Clausthaler (Germany, $4.50): Very good beer-like aroma, hoppy and lively, with crisp bitterness in finish. The lack of alcohol is noticeable here in a thin mouthfeel. Overall, very good.

4. Bamberger Hofbrau Alpine (Germany, $4.25): Yeasty, almost wheat-like aroma, soft, slightly watery taste, but decent finish. Overall not unappealing.

5. Schloss Joseph (Alsace, France, imported by Trader Joe's, $3): Citric aroma and taste, with slight sourness in finish. Tasty, good value.

6. Patrizer Zero (Germany, $4): Nut-like, sweetish, herbal, almost mediciny notes with a molasses kind of aftertaste. Not bad, but awfully thin and watery in finish.

7. Norsk ($5.50): Slight charred paper aroma detracts from an otherwise relatively neutral mid-palate. Aftertaste is thin and flat.

8. Moussy ($5): Slightly oxidized, chlorine-like aromas, flat mid-palate and thin, watery aftertaste. Not very appealing.

9. Goetz Pale Near Beer (Pearl Brewing, Texas; $3): Thin, watery aroma; simple almost bicarbonate of soda taste, and not even a bitter bite to give it interest. Dull.

10. Kingsbury ($5.50): Slightly sour aroma, not like beer; taste is very watery and lacks any appeal. One taster said, "I'd rather have water."

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