Do You Have to be 21 to Buy Non-Alcoholic Beer?

Age restrictions can be confusing when it comes to purchasing beverages with low levels of alcohol. Even drinks like kombucha and non-alcoholic beer can have a small percentage of alcohol content. Laws are often vague around non-alcoholic beer, because the trend has grown so rapidly, leading to a lot of confusion.

While many people believe that non-alcoholic beers can be bought by anyone of any age, the truth is a bit more complicated. In this post, we’ll explore state laws regarding age eligibility for purchasing beverages with less than 0.5% alcohol by volume.*

If you’re a parent trying to navigate the legal jargon, you’re not alone. Read on to learn about the specifics of state laws regarding non-alcoholic beer that I found in my research.

*This is not legal advice. Check with your state’s governing entity regarding alcoholic beverages. 

deciphering laws for can a minor buy non alcoholic beer

Federal and State Laws Defining Alcoholic Beverages

First and foremost, it’s essential to understand that the federal government considers any beverage with 0.5% alcohol by volume and above as an alcoholic beverage according to the National Minimum Drinking Age Act [23 U.S.C. § 158].

Most states have rules that reflect this, requiring a minimum age of 21 to purchase these types of beverages.

However, non-alcoholic beer has been around a while, and some states have created exceptions that allow those under 21 to buy beverages like non-alcoholic beer and kombucha.

Also, some states make distinctions between age requirements for low-alcohol products sold in grocery and liquor stores and those sold in bars.

This kind of legislation opens up more questions, such as whether a 20-year-old can buy non-alcoholic beer at a bar in these states. The short answer is that it varies depending on state legislation.

Non-Alcoholic Beer, Wine and Other Beverages Defined in Laws

The term “non-alcoholic” applies to any beverage containing less than 0.5% alcohol by volume, according to federal guidelines for producing a product. 

Where this gets tricky is that some state laws regulate beer, but don’t make distinctions between non-alcoholic beer and alcoholic beer, because they have been brewed in the same manner.

However, non-alcoholic beer has been around a while, and some states have created exceptions that allow those under 21 to buy beverages like non-alcoholic beer and kombucha.

Also, some states make distinctions between age requirements for low-alcohol products sold in grocery and liquor stores and those sold in bars.

While several states have enacted specific legislation to regulate low-alcohol beverages, most of them leave the subject a little harder to decipher, since there is no specific mention of these types of beverages. 

This kind of legislation opens up more questions, such as whether a 20-year-old can buy non-alcoholic beer at a bar in these states. The short answer is that it varies depending on state legislation.

One example is California, which does not have specific legislation regarding the purchase age for non-alcoholic beer. They discourage the sale to minors, but don’t regulate it, so you’ll often find individual retailers restricting non-alcoholic beer sales to those over 21, whether or not it’s technically legal. 

This means that even if a state doesn’t expressly prohibit the sale of these products to minors, a retail shop can still choose not to sell them to underage customers.

States Where You Can Buy NA Beer Under 21

According to Wikipedia and TEAM (Techniques for Effective Alcohol Management) Coalition, below are the current laws regarding sale of non-alcoholic beer in each state.

This table provides a snapshot of some state laws regarding the purchase of non-alcoholic beer. Remember, this is not legal advice. Laws can change, so always check the current regulations in your own state.

In the case of states marked “Not regulated,” sales are left to the discretion of the retailer or there is no legal definition for non-alcoholic beer, so the interpretation of the law can be confusing. In the cases where states allow someone under 21 to purchase na beer, the beverage must be less than 0.5% ABV.

StateNon-alcoholic Beer Legal Purchase Age
AlabamaMust be 21+
AlaskaAllowed to purchase if under 21
ArizonaNot regulated
ArkansasMust be 21+
CaliforniaNot regulated, but many retailers require 21+
ColoradoNot regulated
ConnecticutNot regulated
DelawareNot regulated
District of ColumbiaNot regulated
FloridaMust be 21+
GeorgiaMust be 21+
HawaiiRegulated by county
IdahoMust be 21+
IllinoisAllowed to purchase if under 21
IndianaMust be 21+
IowaNot regulated
KansasMust be 21+
KentuckyNot regulated
LouisianaNot regulated
MaineMust be 21+
MarylandNot regulated
MassachusettsNot regulated
MichiganMust be 18+
MinnesotaAllowed to purchase if under 21
MississippiMust be 21+
MissouriMust be 21+
MontanaAllowed to purchase if under 21
NebraskaMust be 21+
NevadaNot regulated
New HampshireNot regulated
New JerseyAllowed to purchase if under 21
New MexicoNot regulated
New YorkNot regulated
North CarolinaNot regulated
North DakotaNot regulated
OhioMust be 18+
OklahomaNot regulated
OregonNot regulated
PennsylvaniaMust be 21+
Rhode IslandNot regulated
South CarolinaMust be 21+
South DakotaMust be 21+
TennesseeMust be 21+
TexasAllowed to purchase if under 21
UtahMust be 21+
VermontNot regulated
VirginiaAllowed to purchase if under 21
WashingtonNot regulated
West VirginiaNot regulated
WisconsinNot regulated
WyomingNot regulated

Non-Alcoholic Beer Regulation for Purchasing Age Chart

This chart shows the percentage of states that regulate the age for purchasing non-alcoholic beer, including the District of Columbia.

chart that shows percentages of states that regulate non-alcoholic beer

Why Do You Have to be 21 to Buy Non-Alcoholic Beer?

At this point, you may be wondering why age restrictions are necessary when it comes to non-alcoholic beer.

Drinking alcoholic beer under 21 during development and even in adulthood can be detrimental to one’s health. 

Many laws intentionally vague, but some jurisdictions are clear with their rules meant to protect minors from consuming alcoholic beverages or even introducing them to the concept of drinking alcohol. 

Should a Minor Consume Non-Alcoholic Beer?

At the end of the day, while it’s interesting to understand age restrictions for non-alcoholic beer in each state, it’s also essential to consider if underage individuals should be drinking these types of non-alcoholic beverages.

Non-alcoholic beer is often marketed as a healthier alternative to alcoholic drinks, but it can still contain small amounts of alcohol and calories.

This is ultimately a personal decision, one that you and your family will have to make for yourselves.

Common FAQ & Minimum Legal Drinking Age for Non-Alcoholic Beer

How old do you have to be to buy non-alcoholic beer?

In most states, there is no regulated age to buy non-alcohohlic beer, but retailers may still not sell to someone under 21. See the pie chart and list of age requirement by state shown above.

Do you have to be 21 to buy non-alcoholic beer in California?

In the state of California, the legal drinking age for non-alcoholic beer is not specifically regulated by law. However, as mentioned above, individual retailers may choose to restrict sales to minors regardless of state legislation.

Do you have to be 21 to buy non-alcoholic beer in New York?

In the state of New York, individual retailers may choose to restrict sales of most non alcoholic beer to minors even if there is no explicit legislation prohibiting it. New York has adopted the federal definition of alcoholic beverage as being 0.5% ABV and above, so non-alcoholic beer under this limit would be considered a non-alcoholic beverage.  

Do you have to be 21 to buy non-alcoholic beer in Michigan?

In the state of Michigan, anyone over the age of 18 is eligible for purchasing non-alcoholic beer.

Do you have to be 21 to buy non-alcoholic beer in Arizona?

Arizona also recognizes the federal standard defining alcoholic beverages as 0.5% abv and over. While they don’t specifically define non-alcoholic beer, it can be assumed that it would be considered a non-alcoholic beverage that anyone can buy. 

As with other states, it will come down to the retailer’s rules for selling their products. 

Do you have to be 21 to buy non-alcoholic beer in Texas?

In the state of Texas, anyone of any age is eligible to purchase non-alcoholic beer. The law defines these beverages as containing less than 0.5% alcohol by volume and therefore does not require a minimum age for purchase.

It’s important to note that individual retailers may choose to restrict sales to individuals under 21 regardless of state legislation.

Do you have to be 21 to buy non-alcoholic beer in Alabama?

In the state of Alabama, anyone over the age of 21 is eligible to purchase non-alcoholic beer. There are also wet and dry counties in Alabama. 

Conclusion

In conclusion, the age required to purchase non-alcoholic beer and other beverages with less than 0.5% alcohol content varies significantly by state.

Some states, such as Texas and New Jersey, allow anyone of any age to buy these products, while other states such as Georgia and Florida consider any level of alcohol in a beverage off-limits under 21. Meanwhile, many states like California have no specific law regarding non-alcoholic beer, which allows individual retailers to make their own decisions.

It’s important to check your state’s laws to determine if you are legally allowed to buy or consume alcohol these types of beverages. Parents should monitor their children’s purchase of such beverages to ensure they and their children are following state laws.

Angela T.
Hi, I’m Angela! Ever since alternative beverages made their debut, I’ve been on a mission to find the best. As someone who loves wine and making craft cocktails, I approach each new beverage with curiosity and a healthy dose of skepticism. I hope these honest reviews will help you learn which non-alcoholic drinks are best for you.