04:00 | 16/04/2022 Print
|Top 10 Most Popular Non-Alcoholic Beers That You Might Actually Enjoy|
The legal standard under which beer can be called “non-alcoholic” (and thus be exempt from excise taxes) is 0.5% ABV. NA beer often begins life as a fully fermented beer and then various methods are employed to remove the alcohol. So unless a beer specifically claims to be “0.0” or “Zero Alcohol,” it’s good to assume that “NA” beer does contain a trace amount.
Beer connoisseurs have their pick of a seemingly endless variety of options to satisfy their taste for suds. There are old standbys, like Budweiser and Heineken, craft beers, and even nitrogen-infused options that offer smaller bubbles and a smoother finish. But what if drinking alcohol isn't your style, or perhaps you're in training mode for a race and looking to enjoy the taste of your favorite beer, but not the headache the following day?
Nonalcoholic beers are simply beers that have either had the alcohol removed or have been brewed to contain less alcohol than the legal limit. By law, beverages can claim to be nonalcoholic as long as they don’t exceed the limit of 0.5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Before you freak out, be aware there are trace amounts of alcohol in many everyday foods and beverages. It’s a natural product of fermentation. A study published in August of 2016 in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology found measurable alcohol in bananas, apple juice, and bread. A nonalcoholic beer (or even several of them) is not going to get you buzzed. But it can take the place of boozy beers, giving you an option for when you want beer without the hangover.
The main difference between alcoholic and alcohol-free beer is the amount of alcohol they contain. Alcoholic beers have some alcohol in them while alcohol-free beers contain very little alcohol.
The amount of alcohol in a drink is shown as a percentage of the whole drink. The labels on all alcoholic drinks will show the Alcohol by Volume (ABV). Beer that says 5% ABV on its label contains 5% pure alcohol.
It's important to mention that the taste of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beers varies significantly. Most people seem to prefer the taste of alcoholic beers, but this is simply because they are more accustomed to them. Non-alcoholic beers have come a long way in recent years and are now being produced with high-quality ingredients, which results in an improved flavor profile. Some people believe that the lower alcohol content in non-alcoholic beers makes them less satisfying, but this is simply not true. The biggest factor that affects the taste is the brewing process and the ingredients used. Taste is a subjective matter, so you'll have to try it for yourself.
So, probably the biggest question on people's mind, is non-alcoholic vs alcoholic beer health benefits. Well, some are obvious, but some may surprise you! Non-alcoholic beer can drastically help you drink fewer drinks each week, take a short break, or completely give it up altogether. It's also a much more classy option than a soft drink or hot drink. Because your body links the flavor and smell of full-strength beer with non-alcoholic beer, it is a good substitute for alcoholic beverages. This is all because it creates dopamine, which is the same chemical that makes you feel good after drinking alcohol. Secondly, it can help you ‘fit in’. Firstly, why do we live in a society where drinking is more normal than not drinking? Regardless, there are many situations in which not drinking alcohol might make you feel on the outs, particularly if you're nursing yet another lime and soda or cheap orange juice. Non-alcoholic alternatives can aid in this situation. And finally, non-alcoholic beer and other drinks have to be one of the healthiest drinks offered behind the bar because of its numerous health benefits. Alcohol-free drinks, for example, can lower your risk of heart disease, improve your sleep, boost bone growth, and minimise your chance of infections like the common cold.
1. Brooklyn Special Effects Hoppy Amber
2. Partake Brewing Pale Ale
3. Indiewave IPA
4. Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Alkoholfrei
5. Deschutes Brewery, Non-Alcoholic Irish Style Stout
6. Athletic Brewing Run Wild IPA
7. Bravus Oatmeal Dark
8. Heineken 0.0
9. Brewdog, Hazy AF
10. Lagunitas Hi-Fi Hops
If you’re worried that NA IPAs are wimpy, Brooklyn Brewery is here to set the record straight. If you’ve ever been to their tasting room you know that Brooklyn Brewery takes its beer very seriously, and would never release a non-alcoholic beer that wasn’t terrific. First of all, the Special Effects IPA looks great—it’s got a delicious dark color and a solid head of foam. As for flavor, you’d never know this lacked alcohol. It kicks off with a semi-sweet, caramel taste profile that then hits you with that classic IPA bitterness. There’s a reason you’ll find this beer on just about every list of best NA beers.
Partake’s brews offer an impressive amount of flavor considering the simplicity of the ingredients (water, barley, hops, yeast) and a number of calories in each can. The Pale Ale, at just ten calories, is floral and hoppy with delicate hints of lemon peel.
This brew really puts the pale in a pale ale. If you like your brews hoppy and bitter (think: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale), look elsewhere.
Ceria Brewing Co. was created by Keith Villa, the founder of Blue Moon, so it's no surprise this non-alcoholic beer has a robust and satisfying flavor profile. Ceria makes an IPA and a Belgian-style witbier, both of which contain 0% alcohol and have half the calories of similar traditional beers.
Thanks to their rich flavor, you wouldn't know that these are alcohol-free if you didn't read the label. In addition to alcohol-free brews, Ceria also makes THC-infused beers that can be found at licensed dispensaries.
Oktoberfest staple Weihenstephaner, based in Germany, dubs itself the world’s oldest brewery. It offers NA versions of its classic brews, like the NA Wheat Beer and NA Original Helles. The former is the better of the two, a very light and refreshing Hefeweizen with a touch of hops and the overall feeling that you are, indeed, drinking beer and not some barleyed version of White Claw.
A zero-proof spin on the Bend, Oregon brewery's award-winning Black Butte Porter, this one's heavy on coffee and cacao while still preserving a dryness to the sip. In fact, the mouthfeel is maybe the most pleasing part of the entire experience. To capture that magic, Deschutes partnered with Sustainable Beverage Technologies, founders of the patented BrewVo process. It carefully removes alcohol content while safeguarding the underlying flavors and textures of the liquid.
This hop-head crowdpleaser incorporates no less than five varieties of the famed bittering bud, all soured from the Pacific Northwest. More discerning palates might suss out the oats and wheat used to make it, in addition to more traditional brewer's malt. Pouring slightly hazy into the glass, it's the result of a production technique that creates .5% ABV during fermentation, as opposed to removing alcohol from an already standard-strength beer. The specialized technique works wonders in retaining flavor.
Fans of stout know what they want: Dark, dense flavor. The word rich doesn’t quite capture the flavor profile they’re looking for—they want their beer to be a bit of work, not something you can just suck down. Bravus Brewing has captured that beyond-richness in a non-alcoholic version of a classic oatmeal stout. It will give you hints of chocolate, some smoky bite, and a spicy finish. If you know anyone who loves to watch a Guinness settle, suggest this next time they’re looking for a non-alcoholic option.
The popular Dutch brand joined the NA beer game with 0.0. Diehard fans of the original might not mistake this for classic Heineken, as the flavor is a bit on the thin side, but it does have that characteristic skunkiness and mouthfeel. Plus, some who have done blind taste tests have not been able to tell the difference.
|Brewdog, Hazy AF|
For all you hazebros out there, Brewdog presents a non-alcoholic take on a New England IPA, exhibiting all sorts of tropical fruit goodness from nose to finish. It's birthed at the company's Columbus, Ohio facility using a micro-fermentation process, which feeds the yeast exactly to the point of alcohol creation—cutting them off before they can carry it further than .5% ABV. Clever science results in a can of orange juice-hued beer that's equal parts crave-able and crushable. And like many of the offerings on this list, you can order it directly to your home off of Amazon.
The Athletic Brewing Company has targeted athletes and outdoorsy types in their marketing, pushing the fact that you can celebrate your triumphs without compromising your training or performance. I had the opportunity to try a couple of Athletic’s offerings and can confirm: This stuff is delicious, satisfying, and leaves you with a clear head. The two beers that get the most attention are the Run Wild IPA and the Upside Dawn Golden, but I give the edge to the Upside Dawn. Other NA IPAs are just a hair better done, but the Golden has a nice citrusy zing to it that just makes you want to drink two—and you can, because there’s almost no alcohol!
How Is Nonalcoholic Beer Made?
Beer is made by fermenting grains, which means that microorganisms, usually yeast, break down the sugar in grains to alcohol and other by-products. Some old-fashioned brands make nonalcoholic beer by preventing fermentation, which also happens to prevent flavor development. Others brands cook the beer post-fermentation to burn off the alcohol. Unfortunately, neither of these legacy methods produces great-tasting beers. To compensate, manufacturers sometimes add sugar or high fructose corn syrup, which leads to a cloyingly sweet beer.
Brewers on the leading edge of nonalcoholic craft beer use high-tech, top-secret methods to produce beer that tastes more like traditional craft beer without adding sweeteners. The flavor is fresher, bolder, and often indistinguishable from the alcohol-containing craft beers that inspired them.
“I love nonalcoholic beers, especially Rightside Brewing out of Atlanta. They have a citrus wheat and American IPA and both are very good,” says Benson. She also recommends nonalcoholic beers from Athletic Brewing Company, Ceria Brewing, Partake, and Dogfish Head. They're delicious, and they also have fewer calories than regular beer.
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