Beer is one of the oldest beverages in the world. It was one of the main sources of water before water purification was made available. The presence of alcohol killed bacteria or inhibited its growth. In modern times though, there are many reasons why someone might want to enjoy a beer without alcohol. Please enjoy Guide to non-alcoholic beer, how it’s made along with a list of some of the best non-alcoholic beers available. Some of beers available online without even having to go to a store!
What is non-alcoholic beer?
Intoxicating beverages were defined by the Volstead Act as having less than 0.5% Alcohol By Volume or ABV. The Volstead Act is what propelled the United States into Prohibition which prohibited the production of alcohol for consumption. Beer with less than 0.5% ABV is considered non-alcoholic. Some non-alcoholic beers have 0.0% ABV contents.
Can under-21 drink non-alcoholic beer?
This depends on the jurisdiction. In some countries it is yes and in others yes. Here in the U.S. it depends on what state you are in. The following states do not restrict the sale of non-alcoholic beer containing less than 0.5% ABV:
- The District of Columbia
- New Jersey
How is beer brewed without alcohol?
There are two main methods to remove alcohol from beer – vacuum and reverse osmosis. Both methods have been refined in recent years to produce beers that are just as good as their alcohol containing companions.
Vacuum Removal of Alcohol
Originally alcohol was removed from beer by boiling it to remove the alcohol. This left most beers with a watery flavor. In recent years though, brewers take advantage of the fact that alcohol boils at a lower temperature than water and even lower under vacuum. Beer is placed under a vacuum and very little heat is applied causing the alcohol to boil off at nearly room temperature. This leaves the beer with all its flavor intact.
Reverse Osmosis Removal
Another method for removing alcohol from beer is to filter the beer through a reverse osmosis filter. The beer is pumped at a high pressure through a membrane that only allows a water & alcohol molecule to pass through it. The water is then boiled to release the alcohol. This can also be done under a vacuum to reduce the amount of heat that is needed. The alcohol-free water is then added back the beer concentrate to packaged from there.
The best alcohol-free beers
Alcohol-free beer has been rising in popularity over the past few years and there are now many different choices for those looking to enjoy a beer without the intoxicating effects. Many are also available to be shipped to home!
- All Out Extra Dark – Athletic Brewing – This is an award winning dark beer from a brewery that specializes in non-alcoholic brews. Also available online.
- Hellraiser Dark Amber – Wellbeing Brewing – This is our favorite non-alcoholic beer. It tastes like a dark, rich beer. If you like the flavor of beer, trust us, this will deliver! It’s even available online.
- Just the Haze – Samuel Adams – From the world famous brewery that started the microbrew boom. It’s a full flavored IPA beer that will satisfy.
- Special Effects IPA – Brooklyn Brewery – If you’re looking for a lighter beer with a full beer flavor, this IPA will deliver!
Making Alcohol-Free beer at Home
Homebrewing is a popular way to make beer the way anyone prefers and this includes making the beer without alcohol. Non-alcoholic beer is made the same way as regular beer but will require an extra few steps to remove the alcohol.
Modern breweries use a reverse osmosis filter to separate the water with the alcohol and the concentrated beer. This water is then boiled under a vacuum to remove the alcohol. This process can also be done at home with a small reverse osmosis system and adding pure water to concentrate to avoid having to boil the water and alcohol.
The brewing process for any beer looks as follows:
- Malting – Barley is soaked in water allowing the grain to “sprout”. The sprouts are dried.
- Milling – Malted grain is ground to gritty consistency.
- Mashing – The ground malted grain is mixed with water and pulverized. The mix is then gradually heated to 75 °C (167 °F). The slurry is filtered to remove the majority of particulates. This filtered sugary liquid is called wort.
- Brewing – The wort is brought to a boil for roughly 1–2 hours.
- Cooling – The wort is filtered to remove the majority of the grains and hops and then immediately cooled.
- Fermenting – The wort is saturated with air, yeast is added in the fermentation tank. This step takes around ten days.
- Maturation – The freshly fermented and uncarbonated beer is placed into a conditioning tank and allowed to age.
- To remove the alcohol, the beer can be filtered through a reverse osmosis filter to remove the water along with the alcohol. Pure water can be added back to the concentrate.
- Finishing – The beer is filtered and then carbonated and moved into a storage tank for bottling or kegging.
Beer is one of the oldest beverages in the world. In recent years the breadth and quality of beer available around the world has improved tremendously. This includes gluten-free beers as well as alcohol-free varieties. Do you have a favorite beer that are missing from our list? Be sure to contact us and let us know. We love hearing from people and making our guides the best available on the Internet.