The 10 Best Non-Alcoholic Beers to drink in 2021
Author: Thomas Roth
Last Updated: 6/04/2023
The increasing prevalence of non-alcoholic beer, both in dedicated manufacturers and sheer variety, provides numerous options for those who need or want to moderate their alcohol intake. Additionally, some non-alcoholic beers even have benefits such as added electrolytes and lower calories. But what are non-alcoholic beers?
Non-alcoholic beers or, more accurately, alcohol-reduced beers, are beers that contain less than 0.5% ABV (alcohol by volume), as opposed to traditional beers which typically contain around 5% alcohol. There are a few different ways in which alcohol is either kept to a minimum or removed from these drinks with the most common being controlled fermentation and alcohol removal processes. Controlled fermentation (also known as arrested fermentation) is a process by which the beginning of the brewing process is similar to that of a traditional beer, but is halted just before or at the point in which alcohol would be produced.
While some may find these drinks helpful in their recovery, many recovering alcoholics recommend staying away from these because they may trigger cravings. Regardless, they are an option for those who are seeking the traditional taste of a beer without the side effects associated with alcohol.
1. Brooklyn Special Effects Hoppy Amber
Brooklyn Brewery is a brewery based out of Brooklyn that prides itself on diversity, both in beer and customer base, and aims to provide something for anyone interested. With their Special Effects Hoppy Amber non-alcoholic beer they claim to provide full flavor without the buzz of traditional beers. Their non-alcoholic beers are brewed to have bold flavors, but very little (less than 0.5%ABV) alcohol. This amber beer has flavors of peeled grapefruit, zesty hop aromas, and a bitter edge that creates a clean finish. It is available in 6 packs of 12 oz cans for $10.99.
2. Clausthaler Original
Claustaler is a non-alcoholic beer manufacturer that focused, early on, on how to create a beer with no alcohol, rather than removing the alcohol from the finished product. They say that in their brewing process, the fermentation is stopped before alcohol is ever produced; they call this controlled fermentation. This beer has a very malty, lager flavor with a lemony finish and has a rate of less than 0.5% ABV. It is available in 6 packs of 12oz bottles for about $7.99.
3. Heineken 0.0
Heineken 0.0 has refreshing fruity notes and a soft malty body, a flavor they spent years perfecting. They said they focused on creating a new, non-alcoholic beer from scratch rather than removing the alcohol from a pre-existing blend. Any alcohol that is produced during the brewing process is removed via a vacuum distillation process to maintain all of the original flavors. While claiming to be 0.0%, they have admitted that there may be a trace amount of alcohol from 0.01-0.03% ABV, but much of this is what is commonly found in natural food products. This beet is available in 12 packs of 11.2 oz cans for $15.99
4. WellBeing Brewing Intrepid Traveler Coffee Cream Stout
WellBeing Brewing is a brewing company that specializes in non-alcoholic beer. They state they use vacuum technology to lower the temperature of the beer to remove the alcohol without threatening the overall taste. This means that the company brews its beer in a traditional fashion and alcohol is produced, but then later removed from the final product. Their Intrepid Traveler Coffee Cream Stout is a flavorful beer with tastes of coffee, flaked oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove; part cold brew coffee, and part classic stout. This beer has a 0.4% ABV and is available in 12oz cans, with a 6 pack costing about $9.99.
5. Gruvi Non-Alcoholic IPA
Gruvi is a self-proclaimed health-conscious brand that strives to help provide their community with healthier options for their daily lives. One way they have contributed to this mission statement is by their creation of a line of non-alcoholic beers and wines. Gruvi creates their non-alcoholic beers, such as their non-alcoholic IPA, through a process they call arrested fermentation, which stops the brewing process before alcohol is produced. Gruvi’s non-alcoholic IPA contains trace amounts of alcohol, less than 0.5% ABV, and has a light, citrusy, slightly bitter, and hoppy flavor. It is available in 4 packs of cans for around $7.99.
6. Two Roots Enough Said
Two Roots describes their non-alcoholic beer Enough Said as a “near beer” and it contains less than 0.5% ABV. The drink maintains traditional German malt and hops qualities while also offering herbal, lemony, and bready flavors, made non-alcoholic through a dealcoholization process. This drink is considered to be good for almost any occasion and is extremely versatile. This drink is available in a 6-pack of 12 oz cans for $11.99.
7. Surreal Brewing Natural Bridges Kolsch Style
Surreal Brewing Company claims to be producing the healthiest non-alcoholic craft beer in the U.S. With a calorie amount as low as 17, and only 2.8g of carbs and less than 0.5% ABV, their Natural Bridges Kolsch Style non-alcoholic beer stands out among competitors. This non-alcoholic beer has a delicate malty flavor, with a hint of honeydew melon for an overall refreshing taste. This beer pairs well with chicken, salads, and vegetables, and is perfect for relaxing at home or enjoying nature. The beer is available in 4 packs of 12 oz cans for $7.99.
8. WellBeing Brewing: Victory Citrus Wheat
WellBeing Brewing’s Victory Citrus Wheat beer is a beer enriched with natural electrolytes. Their Victory Citrus Wheat beer has the taste of a traditional wheat beer but adds the refreshing taste of orange zest. This beer has the lowest confirmed ABV on this list at only 0.19% ABV and costs about $10.99 for a 4-pack of 16oz cans.
9. BrewDog: Nanny State
BrewDog is an environmentally conscious brewing company initially created in Scotland, making a wide range of traditional and non-alcoholic beers. Their beer Nanny State is a non-alcoholic beer with less than 0.5% ABV, intended to mimic a traditional pale ale with a moderately malty, hoppy, and bitter taste. This beer is available as a 6-pack of 12oz cans for about $11.99.
10. Clausthaler: Grapefruit
Also made by Clausthaler, a German non-alcoholic brewing company, their Grapefruit variant is a relatively new, refreshing addition. This fruit beer is made similarly to their original beer in which the brewing process is stopped just as alcohol is being produced thus leaving it with an ABV of less than 0.5%. It is available in a 6-pack of 11 oz bottles for about $8.49.
What are the Things to Know about Non-Alcoholic Beers?
The most important thing to know about non-alcoholic beers is that they still contain trace amounts of alcohol (up to 0.5% ABV) and should be treated with caution for those who may need to avoid alcohol entirely such as those who are pregnant or have medical conditions such as liver disease. If you are unsure if these would be the right choice for you and your lifestyle or needs, make sure to speak to a health professional before consuming.
While we will go into more detail, some notable benefits of non-alcoholic beer include:
- There are often more detailed nutrition facts on many non-alcoholic beers
- They can allow you to support the beer industry or culture when you are in bars, without feeling pressured to have traditional forms of alcohol.
- Many contain the very same ingredients as traditional beers, and many aim for similar tastes
- It is nearly impossible to get drunk on non-alcoholic beers because your body can process the alcohol at the same rate it is being consumed.
Is Non-Alcoholic Beer Really Non-Alcoholic?
The general rule in association with labeling non-alcoholic drinks as “non-alcoholic” requires that they contain less than 0.5% ABV. This, however, can be tricky in determining whether something is labeled as non-alcoholic because it is alcohol-free, or because it contains only trace amounts of alcohol.
As seen in the list above, most non-alcoholic beers contain less than 0.5% ABV, with some being as low as 0.01-0.03% ABV. However, there have been cases in which non-alcoholic beers have been incorrectly labeled as such, and later been found to contain up to 1.8% ABV. While rare, it is something to be cautious of, especially for those who need to avoid or consume only very limited amounts of alcohol for medical reasons, such as liver disease or pregnancy.
Are Non-Alcoholic Beers Healthy for You?
Non-alcoholic beers have some health benefits but can cause problems if consumed in excess. Non-alcoholic beers, first and foremost, contain significantly less alcohol than traditional beers; drinking alcohol in excess is known to cause health complications, namely liver disease. Just as with most traditional beers, there are calories and carbohydrates associated with non-alcoholic beers; there is little nutritional value and despite generally having a lower calorie amount, so they are still considered to be a form of empty calories.
For those who are seeking to moderate their alcohol consumption, non-alcoholic beers can be a good choice, but consuming them in excess can cause their own set of problems. One upside, however, is that non-alcoholic beers tend to have more detailed nutrition facts labels. These labels may help you to decide which ones align with your own goals and preferences. While some companies are claiming that non-alcoholic beers can be treated like sports drinks, there is not necessarily enough research or evidence to support these claims and they should be treated with caution.
Additionally, it is important to remember that non-alcoholic beers can legally contain up to 0.5% alcohol, and therefore those who are suffering from conditions such as liver disease or those who are pregnant cannot assume that these drinks are always safe or healthy for them. Also, it is important to keep in mind that the similarities between these drinks and traditional alcoholic beers can be triggering for those who are recovering from alcoholism.
How Much Non-Alcoholic Beer should You Drink in a Day?
It is recommended that non-alcoholic beer should be consumed by the same standards as traditional beer; just because there is a significant decrease in alcohol content doesn’t necessarily mean that the drink is healthy for you. Just as with alcoholic drinks, moderation is key.
In the case of non-alcoholic beer, the bigger concerns rest not on the risks of intoxication but rather on the consumption of empty calories or using the drink as a potential crutch for your bad habits. Additionally, many of these drinks contain higher amounts of carbs and sugar than traditional beers, which may cause health complications, such as weight gain, over the long term.
The recommended daily moderation of traditional beer is 1 to 2 cans for men and women; it would be safe to say that you should try to moderate your consumption of non-alcoholic beers to around the same amount.
Is the Taste of Non-Alcoholic Beer the same as Alcoholic Beer?
Some non-alcoholic beers have the same taste as alcoholic beers, while others do not. Much of what determines the similarity in taste between non-alcoholic beers and their traditional counterparts has to do with the brewing process and how the alcohol is removed from the final product.
For some non-alcoholic beers, the initial process for brewing the beer is identical to that of their traditional counterparts, with the fermentation and production of alcohol. These then commonly go through a vacuum distillation process which gently changes the temperature to help remove the alcohol, without sacrificing any of the flavors.
On the other hand, for some non-alcoholic beers such as Clausthaler, the mixture is brewed right up to the point in which alcohol is created as a byproduct, and then the process is halted. These types of beers are often not made to mimic an alcoholic counterpart but are, rather, their own blend. For this beer, as with others that are made similarly, many people seem to say that the taste is much less defined.
What is interesting is that regardless of which of these two processes is used, there are still trace amounts of alcohol, up to 0.5% ABV, in the mixtures with some ranging closer to 0.5% while others sit closer to 0.01%.
Do Non-Alcoholic Beers Get You Drunk?
It is nearly impossible for non-alcoholic beers to get you drunk because they contain less than 0.5% ABV. In general, your body processes the alcohol at nearly the same rate you are drinking it, making intoxication nearly impossible.
In general, a traditional beer will contain about 5% alcohol, meaning it would take approximately 10 cans of non-alcoholic beer to equal one traditional can of beer. This means it would, on average, take close to 40 non-alcoholic beers for you to become intoxicated.
What is more likely for recovering alcoholics is that the non-alcoholic beer, because it has a very similar taste, smell, and sometimes even similar packaging to traditional beer, may trigger cravings or lead to you rationalizing that a traditional drink may be okay.
Do Non-Alcoholic Beers Cause Hangovers?
A hangover is most commonly considered to be a severe headache or other side effects generally caused by drinking a large amount of alcohol. The side effects experienced can include fatigue, headache, muscle aches, nausea, vertigo, sensitivity to light and sound, anxiety, and increased blood pressure but will vary from person to person. Some of the main causes of hangovers include dehydration, disrupted sleep, and acetaldehyde exposure (acetaldehyde is a byproduct produced by the body when the liver is metabolizing alcohol). Additionally, the symptoms of a hangover can be indicative of withdrawal symptoms as the body tries to readjust.
It is unlikely that non-alcoholic beers will cause a hangover. Non-alcoholic beers are beers that contain less than 0.5% ABV, therefore creating a lower risk for dehydration from alcohol. Additionally, as your liver is processing less alcohol, there is a much smaller chance for triggers such as acetaldehyde exposure.
Can You Drink Non-Alcoholic Beers to Stop Drinking?
While non-alcoholic beers may aid some people in the initial process of cutting back on alcohol consumption, you cannot drink non-alcoholic beers to stop drinking. Many recovering alcoholics recommend staying away from alternative drinks such as non-alcoholic beers and wines, especially early in the recovery process, because the experience of drinking them (taste, smell, packaging) may trigger memories associated with the traditional drinks and cause cravings, thus making the recovery process harder.
For those who are trying to cut back on alcohol consumption rather than avoid it entirely, these drinks may help to fulfill cravings in the short term, without the side effects of alcohol. They may also help you to identify what triggers you have associated with alcohol cravings.
Additionally, there are some side effects associated with alcohol withdrawal such as cold sweats, rapid heart rate, nausea, and in more severe cases seizures. These drinks are not intended to be a complete replacement for alcoholic drinks, but rather an alternative. If you are planning to withdraw from alcohol, you should talk to a health care provider to establish a safe and healthy treatment plan for your recovery.