Non Alcoholic Beer: Everything You Need to Know
Supermarkets, pubs, and bars now offer a good selection of non-alcohol beer and drinks. This means you can decrease your alcohol intake with both taste and style. If you are interested in reducing your intake, consider switching to non-alcohol beer.
The biggest difference between alcohol-free and alcoholic beer is the amount of alcohol in each serving. Traditional beer has an alcohol content as high as eight percent. By comparison, there is very little alcohol in non-alcoholic beer.
The label shows you the amount of alcohol contained in the entire drink by ABV or Alcohol by Volume. If the label says one percent ABV, you are drinking one percent alcohol. There are four different categories of alcohol-free beer you will see on the label.
- Alcoholic beer contains a minimum of 1.2 percent ABV
- Low-alcohol beer contains a maximum of 1.2 percent ABV
- D-alcoholized beer contains a maximum of 0.5 percent ABV
- Non-alcoholic beer contains a maximum ABV of 0.05 percent
The reason there is a small quantity of beer in non-alcoholic beer is that the brewing process naturally results in the formation of small quantities of alcohol.
History of Non-Alcoholic Beer
The history of non-alcoholic beer started several decades in the past. This type of beer was created when the ethanol was boiled away.
Unfortunately, this process often destroyed the aroma and flavor of the beer. New techniques have been created during the past few years enabling the creation of alcohol-free craft beers without a loss of either aroma or flavor. This is accomplished by vacuum distillation or arrested fermentation. Some brewers use less grain than low or normal heat.
Breweries now use these techniques for the creation of alcohol-free beers with a variety of aromas and flavors.
The first alcohol-free beer was sold in 1919 in the United States due to prohibition laws. At this period in time, alcohol was illegal throughout the country. According to the government, no alcoholic beverage could contain more than 0.5 percent ABV. Ironically, the same limit applies to non-alcoholic beers today.
A taste was developed by many beer drinkers for alcohol-free beer. This did not change when prohibition was repealed more than 10 years later because some beer drinkers wanted an option with the same taste. American brands then began creating light beers due to consumer preferences.
How is Non-Alcoholic Beer Made?
The majority of processes used for non-alcoholic and alcoholic beer are very similar. Similar steps are required for both types including boiling the wort and making the mash.
During both of these processes, hops are blended resulting in fermentation. The key difference is heating is necessary for the most alcohol-free beers. Heating the beer enables the alcohol to begin evaporating. If the process is not performed correctly, the flavor of fermented beer can change due to the heat.
Vacuum distilling is favored by some breweries to prevent any changes in flavor. During this process, a vacuum decreases the boiling point of alcohol as much as possible.
The beer is never heated to a hot temperature and the temperature does not exceed fairly warm. In addition to decreasing the content of alcohol, this process helps ensure the flavor remains intact. Brewers and distillers have become more creative during the last couple of years regarding how alcohol is removed.
Reverse osmosis has become a popular technique and involves pushing beer through a filter. The filter contains holes so small that only a few volatile acids, alcohol, and water can penetrate.
Once this is accomplished, standard distillation removes the alcohol from the mixture. A syrup containing flavors, ingredients, and sugar syrup is on the other side. After distillation removes the alcohol from the water, acids and the remaining water are put back into the syrup.
This means none of the key flavors and ingredients need to be heated. The result is a more natural and stronger flavor.
This style requires additional hours of labor and more equipment but provides some of the best possible results. At this point, the process is not yet complete. The alcohol-free beer has the same taste and appearance as regular beer but it is 100 percent flat. Carbonation is developed when the beer is fermenting in the bottle.
Sugar is metabolized by yeast in the beer resulting in the creation of more alcohol. This is how carbon dioxide is formed. Carbonization is a result of carbon dioxide. The same is not true with non-alcoholic beer. The goal is to limit yeast and prevent the beer from fermenting. For this reason, the fermentation process and creation of bubbles for alcohol-free beer do not take place until after it is bottled. The majority of breweries inject carbon dioxide into the can, keg or bottle.
Carbonated soda is created by manufacturers using a very similar technique. Certain manufacturers try to produce more authentic beer. In some cases, extra sugar and starter yeast is put into the bottles to enable the fermenting process to begin. Although the beer is carbonated easier with this method, the alcohol levels also increase. If this step is not performed properly, there is a risk the beer bottles will explode.
Benefits of Non-Alcoholic Beer
Throughout history, alcohol-free beer was avoided because the taste was poor. Everything changed due to new processes and techniques. This does not mean there are not a few low-quality non-alcoholic beers, but the majority offer the same aroma and flavor of alcoholic beer.
Big Drops Stout is known for chocolaty and rich beers, while Playground IPA by Vanderstreek offers a refreshing tartness. Hallo Ich Bin from Mikkeller is a good option for every taste even if you do not normally drink beer.
2) Non-Alcoholic Beer is Healthy:
There are several different health benefits associated with alcohol-free beer. This means it is one of the healthiest options available from virtually any bar. Drinking alcohol-free beer can decrease your risk of catching common illnesses such as a cold, helps to provide better sleep, and helps lower the risk of heart disease. Non-alcoholic beer is also filled with minerals and vitamins including zinc, iron, potassium and folic acid.
3) Eliminating the Possibility of Getting Drunk:
Although non-alcoholic and alcohol-free beers contain a maximum of 0.5 percent alcohol, this is not nearly enough to get someone drunk. This is an incredibly small amount of alcohol the body can process as it is being consumed. The average individual is capable of processing the amount of alcohol in a pint of beer containing 0.5 percent in approximately 17 minutes. When the average individual consumes a pint of beer containing 3.6 percent alcohol, more than two hours are required for processing.
This time increases to over three hours when drinking a pint of beer with an alcohol content of 5.6 percent. Enjoying non-alcoholic beer means all of the negative side effects common when drunk is eliminated. This includes waking up with a hangover, fatigue, poor productivity, and actions and decisions that make you appear foolish.
4) The Ability to Fit In:
Unfortunately, modern society has normalized drinking as opposed to not drinking. The reasons behind this are not nearly as important as the reality. There are a lot of people that feel like an outsider or uncomfortable when they order a glass of orange juice, lime, and soda, or a soft drink. This is when non-alcoholic beer becomes important.
It has the same look, appearance, and taste as beer because it is beer. Asking for your favorite beer by brand name is simple and eliminates the need to explain to anyone why you ordered a beer not containing any alcohol. Unless someone in your group also drinks this type of beer, everyone will believe you ordered a regular beer. The person drinking non-alcoholic beer will most likely sit back, smile, and say nothing.
5) Cutting Down on Alcohol Consumption:
Whether you are trying to completely quit drinking alcohol, want to take a break for a while or simply want to consume less alcohol, non-alcoholic beer is a great option. This type of beer is also great if you want a break for a special night but are not interested in drinking a soft drink or another glass of water. One of the reasons for the popularity of non-alcoholic beer is that you can easily replace an alcoholic drink because your body will associate the aroma and flavor with traditional beer.
The result is the production of dopamine. When you consume alcohol, you produce the same chemical which is partly why you feel so good. According to research, consuming alcohol-free beer provides the same reward sensations and feelings as alcoholic beer minus the negative after-effects. If you have an alcohol addiction, the recommendation is to speak with a physician or healthcare professional to help eliminate the possibility of drinking something a lot stronger.
If the physician believes non-alcoholic beer is a good solution for your individual needs, you can enjoy the flavor and aroma you love in style.
6) Completely Natural:
The majority of alcohol-free beers contain four natural ingredients used by breweries and distilleries for millennia, hops, malt, yeast, and water. This means nearly all alcohol-free beer is 100 percent natural. Most of the beer containing alcohol also has artificial sweeteners and additives.
7) Consuming Fewer Calories:
Each unit of alcohol contains 56 empty calories since there is no nutritional value. Drinking a non-alcoholic beer with an ABV of zero to 0.5 percent instead of an alcoholic beer with a 4.5 percent ABV decreased alcoholic calories by 145. This is approximately the same number of calories in six teaspoons of sugar. The actual number of calories in non-alcoholic beer is determined by the brewing process and ingredients. Beer not containing lazy yeast is lower in both calories and sugar.
8) Non-Alcoholic Beer is Generally Less Expensive:
The brewers in many countries are charged taxes if the beer contains alcohol above a specific percentage. A good example is purchasing beer in the United Kingdom with a 1.2 percent ABV. The cost of the taxes is passed on to the consumer. For this reason, purchasing low-ABV non-alcoholic beer is generally cheaper in comparison to alcoholic beer.
If not for the additional cost of producing non-alcoholic beer, the savings would be even greater. Regardless of the actual price, most beer drinkers are paying for quality, aroma and taste, not the content of alcohol.
9) All of the Ingredients are Available on the Packaging:
Most people are unaware companies producing alcohol are able to influence the government. A good example is the labeling of alcohol in the European Union and the United Kingdom. Alcohol producers in these countries are required to list every single ingredient directly on the packaging. The exception is alcohol with an ABV content above 1.2 percent.
This means you know exactly what you are putting in your body every time you enjoy a non-alcoholic beer. All you have to do is look at the can or the label on the bottle. If you are drinking alcoholic beer, you have no idea what you are putting in your body.
10) Supporting the Beer Industry and Bars:
When you order an alcohol-free beer, you are still supporting both the beer industry and the bar. You simply walk into a bar or a liquor store and pay for the alcohol-free beer of your choice. Your money will support both small and large breweries.
Top Non-Alcoholic Beers
- Mikkeller Weird Weather
- Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier
- Athletic Brewing Run Wild IPA
- Clausthaler Original
- Heineken 0.0
- Two Roots
- Surreal Brewing Natural Bridges Kolsch
- WellBeing Intentional IPA
- Bravus Oatmeal Stout
- BrewDog Hazy AF