The Ultimate Guide to the Best Non-Alcoholic Beer (That Actually Tastes Good!)
Low alcohol beers and lagers are typically under 0.5% alcohol in the USA. This implies that a person would have to consume 9 or 10 of these alternative brews to get the same impact of a standard bottle of beer.
The fact that it is practically not possible to become inebriated by consuming these kinds of drinks means that they may be lawfully marketed to adolescents.
Certain brands prefer to market these drinks as ‘alcohol-free beers’.
In parts of Europe, the phrase low alcohol lager is used in a different way. They use this phrase to describe anything under 1.5% alcohol. So it would theoretically be achievable for an ex-drinker to get to the beginning of intoxication using this drink.
In England and Wales, they categorize anything under half a percent alcohol as being a non-alcoholic lager. Most of these beers are reduced alcohol versions of major brands. For example Heineken and San Miguel, both offer a zero alcohol version of their beers.
What Is Non Alcoholic Beer?
The brewing process to make non-alcoholic beer is the same as making regular beer. So in effect, all non alcoholic brews start out as plain-old alcoholic beer. The alcohol is removed by putting the brew through a heating process that breaks down the alcohol molecules.
To meet the standards for being called non alcoholic, the finished product must have an ABV of 0.5% or less. If that sounds too high, bear in mind that that’s about the same ABV you’d find in a banana or a hamburger bun.
Because alcohol is itself a flavor, lending a dryness to the brew, this can leave the finished product tasting sickly sweet and syrupy. This is partly why non alcoholic beer suffers a sour reputation. But modern brewers have worked out techniques to combat this, adding an abundance of hops, bitter herbs, and spices to help balance out the loss of alcohol.
While a professional brewmaster could tell the difference between the two, the end result is indistinguishable from traditional beer to the layperson.
And that’s great news for anyone who’s given up drinking for good but still misses a good beer. There’s a lot of discussion about how to deal with alcohol cravings, but cravings for the taste of your old favorite drink can be just as detrimental to staying sober.
A non alcoholic beer every now-and-then can help you to sate those cravings. To that end, here are some of the top non alcoholic beer brands to check out.
Non-Alcoholic Beer – Why Not?
Those individuals who have recently quit drinking feel it is logical to turn to alcohol-free beers.
One of the most typical arguments is:
- Although individuals have quit drinking they might claim to miss the flavor of lager. AF kinds of drinks appear to provide a risk-free alternative.
- The person is less prone to feel socially awkward when they head to a pub or club.
- It eliminates the need to provide explanations for being on the wagon. Other individuals will simply presume that the person is drinking a real beer.
- Consuming sodas constantly may be sickening after a while. Non-alcoholic drinks offer something that isn’t so sweet.
- The hops and distinct flavor of non-alcoholic beer may remind ex-drinkers of the genuine thing.
- These drinks could have lots of calories, as high as 220 in a half pint. If the person is using them too often it might result in weight problems.
- The ex-drinker might experience phantom intoxication from the AF lager. Think… Pavlov’s dogs.
Non-Alcoholic Beers… The case against!
If you have just quit drinking there are some risks connected with using non-alcoholic or alcohol-free beers due to the fact that:
- A few of these reduced alcohol ales, in fact, have a higher alcohol percentage than they claim. Especially if you are abroad and drinking brands that you are unfamiliar with.
- They have been shown to provide a stepping stone to relapse.
- The ex-drinker might get enjoyment from making believe they are enjoying a few beers. This is looking back on their drinking past with rose-tinted glasses and it can lead the way to a regression back into alcoholism.
- Consuming these kinds of beers can be proved that the person is not 100% committed to sobriety. The fact that they are attempting to regain elements of the bad old times could indicate that they have not totally moved on from problem drinking.
- Going sober is about a totally fresh start, far from the outdated, drunken way of doing things.
Given time we can all look back on life with rose-tinted glasses. The ex-drinker starts to recall the moments when drinking seemed to be benefiting them.
Time is a great healer but this can lead us to forget how unpleasant things were in the middle of alcohol addiction. Ex-drinkers can easily think instead of old pleasant days drinking a freezing cold beer in the sunshine.
In lots of circumstances, these moments will have no genuine bearing on real life and what went before. For instance, on those wonderful summer evenings, the ex-drinker can overlook how they were struggling with an unpleasant hangover and they needed a hair of dog at that moment.
If the sober person is drinking a fake beer because they miss some facet their drinking days, this could be a sign they are not fully out of the alcoholism trap.
Life is better without alcohol and often drinking non-alcoholic beers is a sign the ex-drinker is seeing the past in a better light than he/she should.
The choice is yours
Only you can decide if you want to introduce non-alcoholic beers into your new sober way of life. However, you should know that they are not 100% without risk. It is for that reason essential that the person thoroughly thinks about the justifications for desiring these kinds of beers.
Many individuals who have quit drinking can have the ability to appreciate these drinks with no unfavourable repercussions. It depends upon their motives for doing this. Other individuals may find that it isn’t really worth the potential harm it could cause.
This will especially relate to people who have only just quit drinking.
The Best Non Alcoholic Beer
For many years, non alcoholic beer has been the butt of jokes. Most of the time, the punchline is some crass variation of “why bother?”
And for a long time, there might have been some merit to those jokes. Breweries that had a side-business in NA products generally didn’t bring their A-game when it came to brewing beer without alcohol.
But they’ve come a long way over the last few years, and now non-drinkers are spoiled for choices when it comes to non alcoholic beer brands. So whether you’re looking for something non alcoholic to sip at social gatherings with your buddies or just miss the taste of a good beer, they’re an option worth exploring. Here is our ultimate guide to the best non alcoholic beer available today:
1. Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Alkoholfrei
Established way back in 1040, Weihenstephaner is the oldest brewery still in operation in the world. With that history and pedigree, you can bet that if anyone can figure out how to make a tasty non alcoholic beer, it would be them.
And their hefeweissbier alkoholfrei delivers.
In terms of flavor, it tastes just like any top-tier hefeweizen, with flavors of wheat and lemon being most prominent. It also feels like real beer, with a solid heft to it and a lovely golden hue.
If you need something light, refreshing, and non alcoholic to knock back on a hot summer’s day, the Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Alkoholfrei is among the best choices you could make.
2. Heineken 0.0
Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Alkoholfrei is an excellent beer by any metric. However, unless you live near one of those liquor and beer superstores, it might prove challenging to actually find it. Enter Heineken 0.0, a much more common brew that can fill much the same role.
Heineken 0.0 tastes exactly like the standard crisp, refreshing beer we all know. And as the name implies, this is one of the uncommon non alcoholic brews to actually achieve a true 0% ABV, so it’s a great choice if you’re in your head about having drinking something that contains even a minute amount of alcohol.
Widely available, no alcohol, and with the same refreshing flavor of the real thing. What’s not to love?
3. Beck’s Non-Alcoholic
Another widely available non alcoholic brew, Beck’s Non-Alcoholic is a great choice if you want a little more hoppiness than a Heineken or a hefeweizen can deliver.
Often sold side-by-side with its alcoholic sibling, Beck’s Non-Alcoholic tastes virtually identical to its counterpart with a flavor that toes the line between refreshing crispness and pleasant, bitter hoppiness.
4. BrewDog Nanny State
BrewDog has a reputation as a bit of a novelty brewery. They once set the record for the world’s most alcoholic beer with their End of History brew. And with the Nanny State, it seems that they tried to do the opposite just to prove that they could.
Though don’t let the novelty factor read as a dig against them. BrewDog knows what they’re doing. This beer is anything but short of flavor, mixing a blend of speciality malts and North American hops to create the perfect non alcoholic beer for the IPA-lover.
5. Brooklyn Brewery Special Effects
Special Effects by Brooklyn Brewery is a deep, amber brew with a sweeter flavor and a dab of caramel on the nose.
According to Brooklyn Brewery, the name is derived from a special, proprietary brewing process that they employ to produce the most beer-like non alcoholic beer possible. Complete with a frothy, creamy head, and an undercurrent of bitterness to balance its sweetness, this is an excellent choice for anyone who wants the genuine beer experience without the alcohol.
6. Clausthaler Non-Alcoholic
Much like Brooklyn Brewery, Clausthaler prides itself on using cutting-edge techniques and technology to produce the maximum amount of real-beer flavor in a non alcoholic package.
Whereas most non-alcoholic beers rely on the aforementioned technique of finishing the beer and using heat to remove the alcohol after the fact, Clausthaler tried to see if they could stop the fermentation process altogether before it started producing alcohol.
The result is an authentic German brew, sans alcohol.
7. BrewDog Stout AF
The second entry from BrewDog to crack the Best Non Alcoholic Beer review list, and surprise, it’s another rarity.
Most non alcoholic brews tend to be lagers or other light styles, likely due to it being easier to replicate their flavor profiles in a non alcoholic form. Either that or they tend to pack the brew with hops, producing more of an IPA-style beer.
This means that if your tastes run a little more to the dark and rich side of things, you’d be out of luck. Then along came the Stout AF.
Brewed with chocolate wheat, oats, coffee, and lactose, the Stout AF packs all of the flavor that you could ever want out of a good stout. With its pleasant roasty quality, it’s the perfect companion to keep you company in the chilly winter months.
8. Mikkeller Energibajer
Winter may be on its way, but it can’t last forever. Once the snow melts and Spring arrives, you’ll want the right beer to celebrate the turning of the seasons. And this 100% alcohol-free offering from Danish brewery Mikkeller has you covered.
Energibajer is a refreshing, fruity brew perfect for a Spring’s day. And as its name implies, it’s quite a pick-me-up.
Olympic athletes have been spotted using non-alcoholic beer to aid in recovery after workouts, owing to its high concentration of electrolytes and inflammation-reducing phenols. So whether you need to recharge after a tough workout or just need a jolt to start your day, Energibajer is an excellent option.
9. Athletic Brewing Co. Run Wild IPA
Running with that athletic theme, here’s a selection that puts it right there in the name. Geared towards sporty types who like a good beer but don’t want the debilitating effects of alcohol, Athletic Brewing Co. has become one of the more fashionable NA brands of late.
They also market themselves toward young professionals who tend to find themselves in boozy social settings but who don’t necessarily want to imbibe themselves, which has no doubt helped boost their profile.
And their Run Wild IPA is one of their strongest offerings, strong and hoppy as any good IPA should be. They also offer a wide slate of different styles, from stouts to golden ales, all of which are equally excellent.
10. Paulaner Hefe-Weissbier Alkoholfrei
Another strong contender for the athletic beer-aficionado, this alcohol-free hefeweizen markets itself more as a thirst-quenching sports drink than it does a beer.
Touting its profile of electrolytes, nutrients, and minerals, you could consider it an all-natural alternative to Gatorade. And it tastes a lot better, coming from one of Munich’s most-famed brewhouses.
14. Kehrwieder ü.NN IPA Alkoholfrei
Kehrwieder is what they call a “kreativbrauerei” — a creative brewery — located in Hamburg. And as that name would suggest, experiment is what they do best.
That’s how they, despite Weihenstephaner having a 1,000-year head-start, they were able to quickly rival their older counterpart in producing a great German, NA beer.
It also probably helps them that they break with the German tradition. IPA’s are rather uncommon in Germany, so making a German IPA shows their willingness to think outside the box.
15. Kormoran 1 na 100
The Polish brewery is known for breaking with tradition and experimenting. Among their more interesting offerings are beers made from locally-sourced ingredients like spelt and garlic. And in that spirit, they tried their hand at making a top-tier non alcoholic beer.
This pale ale uses rye malt and Citra hops to build a genuine beer flavor. It’s also an unfiltered beer, truly a rarity among NA products. This gives it a good, hazy heft that’s lacking in many NA offerings.
It does require a bit of an asterisk, however, Clocking in at 1% alcohol by volume, it’s about twice as boozy as the average NA beer. And depending on the standards in your locality, it may not even count as NA.
Though that ABV is still low enough that you’re incredibly unlikely to get the slightest buzz off of it, that may or may not be a deal-breaker for you. But for those who may be interested, we decided to include it on the list.
16. A. Le Coq Imperial Kvass
In the interest of convenience, we tried to mostly fill this list with brews you could conceivably find either at your local grocery store, or at least at a major liquor store. But Imperial Kvass is something of a different animal.
A traditional dark kvass beer is something of a rarity these days, alcoholic or not. It’s a very old style, usually made with a mix of dark rye, sugars, saps, fruit, and herbs, and using techniques passed down through generations of brewers.
As such, you’re unlikely to find any other beers that really taste like kvass. Black as night, with the flavor of toasted bread and caramel, the Imperial Kvass would be worth seeking out for any beer-lover.
17. Fever-Tree Premium Ginger Beer
This is a bit of an odd-duck addition, but in the interest of giving you a good variety, we opted to include it. And since ginger beer is fermented jus like regular beer, it technically counts.
Usually considered a mixer, Fever-Tree Ginger Beer is good enough to drink all on its own. And since it doesn’t contain hops or gluten, it’s great for those with gluten intolerance or just a sensitive stomach. And with its bold ginger taste, it will definitely give you plenty of flavor to savor.
Crack Open a Cold One While Staying Sober
It’s unlikely that alcohol, and especially beer, is going away anytime soon. It’s been with us for thousands of years and will probably be around for as long as there are people to drink it.
And as long as beer is still in the picture, it’s going to be a part of social life. There are plenty of ways to lead a fun, fulfilling, and sober social life, and non alcoholic beer can be a tool to help you maintain social dynamics without drinking. Not to mention that the beers on this list just plain taste good!
It’s especially something to keep in mind with the holidays right around the corner. Though it remains to be seen what the 2020 holiday season will look like, we can expect that drinking will probably be an aspect of any social functions that do take place this year.
And with that prospect tends to come with a certain amount of anxiety about staying sober. For some tips on how to get through the holidays, check out our piece on why Christmas can be better than ever without alcohol in the picture.
Ready To Go Sober?
Get started today and tomorrow get off to the supermarket to stock up on the best non alcoholic beer from our review.