If you are new to the world of alternative beverages and non-alcoholic beer, you have come to the right place. This article answers some of the most commonly asked questions about non-alcoholic beer, whether or not it is healthy, when and who can drink it, how it’s made, and many more.
The two most interesting things I have found about non-alcoholic beer are:
- Some of them taste great and just like real beer, because they are made like real beer.
- Non alcoholic beer has some surprising potential health benefits.
The following are the top 12 commonly asked questions about non-alcoholic beer…
What is Non Alcoholic Beer?
Most non-alcoholic beer is actually beer, but the breweries have either altered the fermentation process to avoid alcohol production, or they remove the alcohol after making beer. There are some exceptions, but mostly, it has the same ingredients and tastes a lot like the real thing. There are many craft breweries making great non-alcoholic options, and some solely devoted to crafting delicious non-alcoholic beer.
Think of it as beer, just without the alcohol.
How to Make Non Alcoholic Beer
Most non-alcoholic beer is made just like alcoholic beer. Some breweries will go ahead and make a beer, then remove the alcohol by boiling it at a low temperature. Others attempt to control the fermentation process to impart some of the flavors achieved in fermentation without ever producing alcohol. There are multiple ways to make non alcoholic beer, but generally the method is this (notes included in the steps to indicate the various methods):
- Malt a grain, such as barley or wheat, by heating, drying and cracking it.
- Steep the grains in hot water in order to break down the grains into sugar. The final result is a wort, sticky and sweet, ready to be turned into beer.
- Boil the wort, while adding hops and any other spices or flavors. Then cool, strain, and filter the liquid.
- Put the liquid in a fermentation tank or vessel along with yeast. The yeast will eat up all the sugar, creating alcohol and CO2. Some breweries will control the fermentation process so that the alcohol content is kept very low or non-existent.
- If the beer went through traditional full fermentation, it is boiled at a low temperature until the alcohol evaporates out of the beer, leaving a non-alcoholic beer.
How Much Alcohol is in Non Alcoholic Beer?
The amount of alcohol in non-alcoholic beer varies by product, but to be considered “non-alcoholic” it must be less than .5% alcohol by volume. Here are just a few examples of non-alcoholic beers and their specifically listed ABVs:
- Heineken 0.0 0.03% ABV
- Wellbeing Victory Wheat 0.19% ABV
- Partake Pale 0.30% ABV
- Gruvi Weisse 0.10% ABV
- Hairless Dog IPA 0.00% ABV
How Many Non Alcoholic Beers Equal One Beer?
Compared to beer, non-alcoholic beer has a lot less alcohol. Alcohol content varies greatly in different styles of beer, on average between 4.5%-8% ABV. A non-alcoholic beer must have less than 0.5% ABV, you would have to consume 9-16 beers to reach those levels of alcohol, respectively. The amount of time it would take to consume that many beers is also a factor, so you aren’t really in danger of consuming even close to the same amount of alcohol when drinking non-alcoholic beer. Some non-alcoholic beer even has 0% alcohol.
Is Non Alcoholic Beer Good for You?
First of all, we already know that drinking a lot of alcohol is not healthy. If you regularly consume a lot of alcohol, you’ll be cutting back on your alcohol consumption with every non-alcoholic beer you consume, and you’ll be that much healthier. While that might seem simple, the combination of less alcohol with the reduced calories (sometimes none, see comparisons below) in non-alcoholic beer, could make a huge impact on your health.
But is non alcoholic beer healthy? Some would go so far as to argue that non-alcoholic beer is actually good for you. High level athletes are drinking it for post-exercise recovery, especially for its sodium content, skipping the sugary electrolyte beverage and opting for a non-alcoholic beer instead. With a lot of non-alcoholic beers tasting just like beer, that’s a great reward for hard work put in.
In addition to that, multiple scientific studies have suggested these non alcoholic beer benefits:
- Sleep aid
- Reduce risk for heart disease
- Immune system booster – packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants
- Stimulates breast milk production and adds nutrients and antioxidants to breast milk
- Increase bone density
- Reduce stress
Read more about the potential health benefits of non-alcoholic beer in Is Non Alcoholic Beer Good For You? with references to multiple published studies. Other questions addressed in the article related to health touch on calories and carbs in non alcoholic beer and gluten free nonalcoholic beer.
Do You Have to be 21 to Buy Non Alcoholic Beer?
The age required to buy alcohol depends on location. In the US, you have to be 21 to buy any product with alcohol in it. Non-alcoholic beer and other products labeled “non-alcoholic” can have up to .5% alcohol content. This includes kombucha, a fermented tea drink.
Some non-alcoholic beer has zero alcohol in it, and should technically be legal to purchase under 21. However, it can also vary based on state laws as well as the individual stores’ policies. Some consider selling anything labeled or marketed as beer as being inappropriate for minors, so they will not sell the product to you if you are under 21.
Can Pregnant Women Drink Non Alcoholic Beer?
I am not a health professional and cannot make claims regarding non alcoholic beer and pregnancy or any other health recommendations. Ultimately, you should discuss anything associated with your pregnancy and your health with your doctor.
That being said, if you do decide to have a non-alcoholic beer while pregnant, there are some options that are completely alcohol free, such as Suntory ALLFREE, Lagunitas Hop Hoppy Refresher, Hairless Dog’s Coffee Stout, IPA, Black Ale, Citra Lager, to name a few.
Can You Drink Non Alcoholic Beer While Driving?
The short answer is: It depends. It depends on the state, on the drink, how much you had, etc. I do not recommend driving while drinking an alcoholic beverage, nor am I offering any legal advice. Without diving deep into the verbiage of every state’s laws, perhaps stick to non-alcoholic beers that have ZERO alcohol if you plan on driving. Non-alcoholic beers can contain up to .5% alcohol and still be called “non-alcoholic.” Obviously, a can of beer looks like a can of beer, and might still get you pulled over. Is it really worth it?
Where Can I Buy Non Alcoholic Beer?
Non-alcoholic beer can be found online and at many retail locations. It all depends on what type you want and where you live. Since the product is growing in popularity, availability is always changing, but here are a few recommended places you will find a selection of quality non alcoholic beer:
- NA Craft Beverages: Devoted to awareness of non-alcoholic beverages and carries the widest selection of craft non-alcoholic beers available online. You are sure to find something at NA Craft that you will not be able to find elsewhere.
- Amazon: Carries a massive selection of pretty much everything, including popular imports of non-alcoholic beer. You are most likely going to find the big name brands here, but new sellers and products are ever changing, so it’s a great first place to check – especially with Prime shipping options.
- Drizly: Delivers beer, wine and spirits to your door in under an hour. This includes an interesting selection of craft non-alcoholic beer, wine and spirits as well. However, you will have to check the website to see if this service is available in your area.
- Bevmo: Large retailer that has a great selection of non-alcoholic beer, but only ships to a handful of states. Retail locations exist in California, Arizona, Oregon, and Washington.
- BeClink: Devoted to the online sale of non-alcoholic beverages, including a small selection of non-alcoholic beer.
- Total Wine & More: Large retailer with a selection of non-alcoholic beers and imported non-alcoholic beers.
Of course, these are just a few of the retailers where you can find a good selection of non-alcoholic beer in the U.S. Note that some states have different rules when it comes to shipping beer, even non-alcoholic beer, so you will have to check each retailer to see if they ship to your area.
Also, if you are looking for a specific non-alcoholic beer, you can buy directly from some of the breweries. Here are five great options for direct purchase:
- Surreal Brewing
- Athletic Brewing
- Grüvi Brewing
- Wellbeing Brewing
- Two Roots Brewing
What’s the Point of Non Alcoholic Beer?
Everyone has a different purpose when drinking non-alcoholic beer. One could make the same argument for alcoholic beer: What’s the point of drinking alcohol? A lot of non-alcoholic beers are made just like beer and taste just like beer. Some people may choose to drink non-alcoholic beer to avoid the alcohol, calories, or for other health reasons or lifestyle choices. As listed above, it has some potential health benefits, so it’s not just a substitute for an alcoholic beverage. For those that often find themselves wondering if it’s “too early” for a drink, non-alcoholic beer could perhaps bridge that gap.
Either way, it comes down to personal choice.
If you are choosing to drink a non-alcoholic beverage, one of the great benefits of non-alcoholic beer is simple: it is a ready-made drink. Several are low in calories, offer potential health benefits, and are just as festive as a mocktail if you pour it in a fancy glass. The right type of non-alcoholic beer will go with just about any food.
Also, if you’re looking to avoid drinking alcohol amongst friends or family that are drinking alcohol, you can be discreet about it with non-alcoholic beer.
It looks like beer, tastes like beer, and is in fact beer. Be warned: because the focus is on flavor and not on alcohol, you might find your beers disappear quicker than others’ at a party.
Is it ok to Drink Non-alcoholic Beer if You’re Sober?
There is no easy answer to this question. You know yourself best. Be safe and consult with a professional or someone close to decide if drinking non-alcoholic beer is right for you.
What is the Best Non-Alcoholic Beer?
There are so many options to choose from. It all depends on your favorite style of beer. Here are a few solid options to get you started in the world of craft non-alcoholic beer. They are highly recommended on multiple websites by many reviewers, and are not listed in any particular order. The people have spoken:
- Surreal Natural Bridges Kolsch Style
- Partake Brewing IPA
- Clausthaler Premium Non-Alcoholic Beer
- Gruvi Weisse
- Brooklyn Brewery Special Effects
- Athletic Brewing Run Wild IPA (link to check price for a multipack on Amazon to sample a few different types)
After tons of research in the world of sober culture and the sober curious, non-alcoholic beer seems to be one of the most popular beverages consumed. That is probably because it is beer. It’s often made like beer and quite a few of them taste like good beer.
For now, it’s easier to find as a “non-alcoholic” labeled product, but perhaps it should just be called beer, adding it to the myriad ABVs already available. What if these non-alcoholic beer, wine, and spirits just became part of the ever-expanding options of beverages and didn’t come with the label “non-alcoholic?” Something to think about.