As the sober-curious movement expands, the quality and quantity of non-alcoholic beers have begun to skyrocket. Instead of only finding one or two available non-alcoholic drinks at a store, we’re now able to pick and choose our favorite NA beer.
In a world of non-alcoholic beer options, what brands stand out? How exactly is non-alcoholic beer made?
We’ve got your comprehensive guide to drinking non-alcoholic craft beer right here.
What’s the deal with non-alcoholic beer?
It sounds like an oxymoron: non-alcoholic beer. How can you create an alcoholic drink... without alcohol? Whether you’re stepping back for a dry January or cutting alcohol out of your life entirely, you can still enjoy a great taste. Here’s what beer lovers need to know.
What is non-alcoholic beer? Any beer that contains very little to no alcohol is a non-alcoholic beer. This is determined by alcohol by volume (ABV) — legally, non-alcoholic beers must contain 0.5% ABV or less to meet the criteria.
Non-alcoholic beer aims to imitate the flavor of a standard beer but without the intoxicating effects. NA craft beers can range from light beers to hoppy ales, with an increasing range of tastes and styles.
Is non-alcoholic beer really non-alcoholic? Non-alcoholic beer may have 0.5% or less alcohol percentage, far lower than the average 4.5% found in an alcoholic beer. For reference, that’s about the same ABV as a kombucha.
Some brands even boast a completely zero-alcohol beer. Either way, the intoxicating effects of a standard beer are long gone by these low alcohol levels.
How are non-alcoholic beers made? Most non-alcoholic beers are made by fermentation like a classic brew and then have the alcohol removed. That’s why you’ll often find trace amounts of up to 0.5% alcohol.
Much like high-quality non-alcoholic wine, in recent years, craft non-alcoholic beer has been designed to maintain the same mouthfeel, taste, and aroma you know and love.
What's the point of non-alcoholic beer? The point of non-alcoholic beer is to drink without the risk of getting drunk, hangovers, or the other health risks involved with drinking alcohol. There are lots of reasons not to drink alcohol.
FAQs about non-alcoholic beer, answered.
The term “non-alcoholic beer” can raise several questions about taste, health, and even ingredients. Let’s set the record straight so we can get to the fun part: taste tests.
- What is the alcohol content in non-alcoholic beer? The alcohol content in non-alcoholic beer must legally be 0.5% or under. The exact ABV within that range depends on the brand.
- Is non-alcoholic beer gluten-free? Most non-alcoholic beer is not gluten-free unless specified. There’s a common misconception that it’s made from different materials, but most NA craft beers are trying to get as close to your favorite taste as possible.
- Can you get drunk from non-alcoholic beer? It takes 10 non-alcoholic beers to have the effect of one alcoholic beer. Getting drunk from non-alcoholic beer would be extremely difficult.
- Is non-alcoholic beer good for your health? Non-alcoholic beer can be good for health when used to cut down on drinking. A lower alcohol intake has many health benefits like reducing liver damage and even lowering cancer risks. However, NA beer typically has a higher sugar content than typical beers, so it’s not exactly a wellness drink or low-carb option.
- What is the difference between non-alcoholic beer and regular beer? Non-alcoholic beer has only trace amounts of alcohol, unlike regular beer. While NA beer has gotten a reputation for being flavorless, the options and quality of non-alcoholic beer have changed in recent years!
Long gone are the days of one expired O’Douls hiding in the back of the bar. Thankfully, there are many modern options for sober curious beer lovers.
Now, for the good stuff. What is the best non-alcoholic beer? Our top 7 best non-alcoholic beers, from lagers to ales, are listed below. Try a six-pack of the following for a delicious, NA near-beer.
1. Athletic Brewing Co.
Athletic Brewing Co. is often called the gold standard for non-alcoholic beers in the U.S.A. They have something for every palette, including:
- Run Wild IPA: A hoppy India pale ale that satisfies even the most seasoned beer-lovers.
- Cerveza Atletica: A Mexican light copper lager with both spicy and fruity notes.
- All Out Stout: This stout was built for colder months with coffee and chocolate notes.
- Upside Dawn Golden Ale: This has both floral and earthy notes and is gluten-removed for those with allergies.
Athletic Brewing Company has a broad range of beers, making it easy to track down your favorite brew style in a non-alcoholic drink.
Can a non-alcoholic beer be a true IPA? A non-alcoholic beer cannot be an “imperial” beer in the ABV sense, but many non-alcoholic IPAs can contain the juicy, hoppy feel of a traditional IPA.
Athletic Brewing Co is our top pick for both seasonal and long-term ales that taste like the real thing. They’re also easy to find on apps like Drizly and Amazon.
2. Bravus Brewing
Bravus Brewing is an entirely non-alcoholic brewery. Their most popular offerings include:
- Oatmeal Stout: This sweet, nutty dark beer is a dessert in a glass.
- India Pale Ale (IPA): This earthy, bittersweet option is for a hop-lover.
- Amber Ale: This is a traditional option for a game-day or happy hour beer that hearkens back to the “classic” beer taste.
What’s more, all of these options are gluten-reduced, making them an excellent choice for sober curious people with a mild intolerance.
3. Surreal Brewing
Surreal Brewing has a few different beer styles we can recommend:
- Natural Bridges Kolsch: Comes in at only 17 calories per serving!
- Juicy Mavs Hazy IPA: With a fruity tropical note for a summer’s day.
- 17 Mile Porter: Another great option for dark beer lovers or colder months.
Surreal Brewing is well-known for its full-bodied flavor without the alcohol, and is pretty easy to find around the U.S.
4. Wellbeing Brewing
Wellbeing Brewing has an awesome Recoverers & Discoverers Variety Pack to try out several brews and find your go-to non-alcoholic beer. Fan favorites include:
- Intentional IPA: Made with mosaic and Citra hops for a full-bodied bitterness.
- Victory Citrus Wheat: A wheat beer that contains natural electrolytes.
Wellbeing is founded by a fellow non-drinker with a background in the alcohol industry, and the can designs are artfully done. It’s an all-around winner in our books.
5. Brooklyn Brewery
Brooklyn Brewery is a respected home of many popular craft beers, and they now make Special Effects, a non-alcoholic beer option for the calorie-conscious.
A can of Special Effects contains less than 100 calories and is a respectably hoppy IPA.
Hailing from Scotland, this brewery is known for both its alcoholic and NA beers. To steer clear of alcohol content, try one of Brewdog’s “near beer” choices:
- Nanny State IPA: It has an impressive 45 IBU (a measure of bitterness), which is higher than most NA options.
- Hazy AF IPA: This hoppy choice has a tropical twist.
- Wake Up Call Dark Espresso Stout: Milk sugar, oats, and chocolate wheat round out this sweeter variety.
BrewDog offers a variety pack of either 12 or 24 cans, giving you a chance to sample a full range of flavors.
Hailing from Germany, Clausthaler is known for its low-alcohol lager, which they’ve brewed since 1972. After almost 40 years, the legacy lives on.
They’ve expanded their original product to include fruit-infused varieties of their original Clausthaler Alkoholfrei (German for alcohol-free).
Most Likely To Be Available:
We are fans of smaller breweries and carefully crafted flavors, but they’re not always as easy to find. If you’re looking for something a little more mainstream, here are some popular options by larger breweries:
- Heineken 0.0: This Amsterdam classic has recently released a truly alcohol-free beer, promising absolutely 0 alcohol content.
- Coors Non-Alcoholic: This malty, sugary, and nutty flavor is a common option at more mainstream watering holes.
- O’Doul’s: The “old faithful” of non-alcoholic beer, O’Douls is the go-to choice for those abstaining. In more recent years, they’ve released an amber variety to accompany their original lager.
Guinness also released an alcohol-free beer in late 2020 but recalled it just a few days later due to contamination concerns.
The Bottom Line
Non-alcoholic beer has come a long way in recent years, with options from pilsner to porter. If you’re looking to reduce or remove alcohol from your routine without losing flavor, try out some of our 7 favorite brands.
Our overall favorite, and one of the most popular, is Athletic Brewing Co for taste and variety. If you’re looking to find a new favorite, there are also the variety packs at Wellbeing or BrewDog as well.
These 7 brands are excellent starting points, and the NA beer world continues expanding all the time. Whether you’re out on the town or at home, there’s likely a non-alcoholic beer near you.
Maybe you’re looking to expand your non-alcoholic options even further, diving into wine or alcohol-free spirits.