alcohol free beer

Alcohol-free beer

What is alcohol-free beer?

So, what actually is it and when does a beer qualify as alcohol-free? A beer with an alcohol content between 0.0% and 0.05% is considered completely non-alcoholic. Strictly speaking, alcohol is not always completely alcohol-free. But, up to 0.05% is an amount that has no measurable influence even on alcohol-sensitive people. Anything above this must be labelled as low alcoholic. We have beers that go up to 0.5% and are accurately called low alcoholic. This amount of alcohol makes very little difference to the beer and is almost completely undetectable. Fruit juices can age over time and can contain a similarly low alcohol content. Even overripe bananas can contain 0.6%.

For those who want to be certain, there are some 0.0% beers, like Brand Weizen 0.0 or Bird Brewery Non Alk.

Non-alcoholic or alcohol-free beer is more popular than ever, with increasing numbers of new and improved versions frequently entering the market. We know non-alcoholic beer is booming but how is it really made? Does alcohol free actually mean alcohol free? Does it affect the taste? Nowadays there’s more choice and variety out there than ever before so it’s about time you got up to speed, here are the answers to all your questions!

Calories in non-alcoholic beer?

One of the most popular questions around alcohol-free beer is the calorie content. Whilst one of the benefits of non-alcoholic beer is that it contains fewer calories than its alcoholic counterpart, it is not calorie free. The calorie content of alcohol-free beer will vary depending on the amount of carbohydrates and protein it contains. This depends on its base ingredients and how it's produced. However, alcohol-free beers are generally lower in calories. More burning questions? Read more about calories in beer and find the answers to many common beer questions.

Is alcohol-free beer bad for you?

This leads on to health. Due to the fact it has less alcohol, this means it puts less stress on the liver. The lower alcohol content, fewer calories and isotonic nature means alcohol-free beer is a healthier option than its high alcohol equivalent. This means it can be enjoyed by nutrition-conscious people, athletes, motorists, and even pregnant women. 

Athletes and health conscious 

Opting for a low-alcohol beer can help you to drink within the low risk drinking guidelines, and in turn can reduce the health damaging effects. Alcohol-free beers are also considered to be isotonic and are therefore popular with athletes. It means that the fluid has the same concentration of particles dissolved in the blood - the ingredients (including carbohydrates as energy, polyphenols, or vitamins) can be absorbed and used more quickly in the bloodstream. One other very important thing to remember is that drinking alcohol-free beer means you won't get a hangover, it will make you more proactive and motivated to exercise the next day! 

Non-alcoholic beer in pregnancy

Alcohol-free beer for pregnant women and motorists

Pregnant women are allowed to drink non-alcoholic beer as long as consumption is kept within limits. A similar approach should be taken with drivers, 0.0% examples such as Budels Malty Dark and Palm are the ideal alternative. So, if you greet pregnant women or motorists at your next party make sure to offer them a beer from the Beerwulf Alcohol-Free Case. 

How is alcohol-free beer made? 

Ingredients, methods and process 

Despite what lots of people believe, the brewing process of an alcohol-free beer is actually the same as of any other beer. There are, however, different methods to reduce the alcohol content. There are two main ways to do this.

1. Reduce the alcohol content during the fermentation process.

The process is very similar to any other beer except that less malt is used (enzymes from the malt turn starch into fermentable sugars, which eventually become alcohol). There are also special malts with as little fermentable sugars as possible. In addition, a special yeast type is used that produces less alcohol. Saccharomyces Ludwigii is a yeast that is suitable for brewing alcohol-free beer. This yeast species produces no or less alcohol because it handles maltose and glucose less well, namely are the sugars that other yeast types easily convert into alcohol. vandeStreek Playground IPA Alcohol-Free, for example, is brewed in this way.

2. Remove the alcohol from the beer after the brewing process.

There are various methods for this, including the so-called 'reverse osmosis' where the alcohol is removed under high pressure. Erdinger Alcohol Free is an example in which the alcohol is removed at a later stage.

The brewing process of an alcohol-free beer is actually the same as of any other beer, except that less malt is used.

Moreover, when it comes to brewing alcohol-free beer, additional measures in terms of hygiene have to be taken. There are a lot of residual sugars in the beer, which means that no other brewing yeast can be added. The filling of the bottles must therefore be done on a completely steamed bottling line in order to prevent another yeast from growing.

What about non-alcoholic beer kegs?

For years alcohol-free or low-alcoholic beer was a second-class citizen to its high ABV counterpart. Options were limited to lagers but now we have the choice of some great tasting 0% alcohol beers available in kegs. Check them out.

Find non-alcoholic beer

What varieties of alcohol-free are available in the U.K?

In early 2017 the big beer brands launched 0.0 beers, such as the Affligem Blond 0.0%, a refreshing Belgian blond beer with a sweet taste but with a mildly bitter finish. Also, the low alcoholic radlers started to brew 0.0 variations. In the summer we tasted the vandeStreek Playground IPA Alcohol-Free. It’s an IPA with almost no alcohol (less than 0.5%), a fresh taste with citrus fruit, tropical fruit and a pleasant bitterness. It’s a perfect alternative if you want to pay attention to calories and on top of that you can still get behind the wheel after a few of these beers.

Traditionally, alcohol-free beers were pilsners & hoppy lagers. However, we increasingly see more and more alcohol-free white beers, pale ales and IPAs appearing now too. Notable examples are BrewDog Punk AF, a pale ale with hoppy aromas and a good bitterness with a sweet tone, or Lowlander 0% Wit, a Dutch white beer with a refreshing taste brewed with reclaimed orange and lemon peel.