Beer is one of America’s beloved beverages for many reasons. It can be casual or more sophisticated, its taste profiles and flavors range wildly from light, fruity sours to hearty delicious ales, and it’s available nearly everywhere you go where alcohol is served. It’s perfect for an after-work happy hour, a refreshment at the beach as well as the perfect compliment to nearly any type of cuisine from around the world. It also comes in convenient cans or bottles that are easier to transport than other alcoholic beverages such as wine or spirits. Beer is great, but the hangover and bloat you can get from it is not as ideal. Sometimes, you just want to enjoy the taste without the painful after effects, which is where non-alcoholic beer comes in.
Non-alcoholic beer starts out as regular beer and is then heated to remove the alcohol. This, in the past, has left it with a simply fruity and syrupy taste that beer lovers have rejected outright. Recently, however, craft breweries nationwide have begun to dip their toe in the hoppy pool that is non-alcoholic beer, and attempted to make it delicious. By adding extra bitters, herbal flavors and more hops to supplement the lack of a warming alcoholic taste, they’ve created some pretty tasty brews that can give you the satisfaction you get from beer drinking without the hangover. Non-alcoholic beers also tend to be healthier and contain fewer calories than alcoholic beers. Non-alcoholic beers, and especially good non-alcoholic beers, can be difficult to find. We’re here to help you with your search for the perfect brew without the buzz.
One thing to note about non-alcoholic beer is that some brands have no alcohol at all, and some have very little alcohol content that’s minimal but there nonetheless. If you’re pregnant, nursing or trying to avoid alcohol altogether it’s important to check the labels of the brand you’re buying, as by law, non-alcoholic beers sold in the U.S can contain up to 0.5% alcohol by volume. There are two categories of non-alcoholic beer, technically, which include alcohol-free beer that’s completely free of any semblance of booze, and non-alcoholic beer which may contain trace amounts.
Whether you’re off alcohol for the moment, for good or simply want a non-alcoholic option to offer guests, these are the best non-alcoholic beers available.
1. Athletic Brewing Upside Dawn Golden Ale
This brewing company makes beers specifically for athletes to help them enjoy while keeping their bodies in tip top shape. This non-alcoholic brew contains less than 0.5% alcohol and is a citrusy, light, hoppy mix with a clean body that’ll refresh without weighing you down. The orange notes give it a juicy taste with a balance between all of the flavors that even true beer lovers will appreciate. It’s made with a mix of organic malts from both the U.S and Germany and earthy, spicy hops that add depth and character to this award-winning brew. If you’re a lover of ales or like your beer full-strength, something non-alcoholic beers are not known for, this beer will impress, delight and satisfy just as well as its alcoholic counterparts, if not better.
2. Clausthaler Dry Hopped Non-Alcoholic Beer
This award-winning beer from Germany is one of the most popular brands in Europe and, according to some, is the first non-alcoholic beer to have ever existed. Instead of burning off the alcohol with heat after the fact, this brewery decided to stop the fermentation process before the alcohol was created to see what would happen. They were left with a great-tasting, malty brew with a mix of bitterness and sweetness. It looks like watered down ice tea in the glass with active carbonation bubbles and a citrusy aroma. The medium-light body is substantial while still being refreshing and the nut-brown ale taste will delight beer-lovers across a wide spectrum of preferences.
3. Weihenstephanier Hefeweissbier Alkoholfrei
CLOSEST TO REAL BEER
In case the name didn’t already tip you off, this German beer is alcohol-free but legit in every other way. The brewery that makes it has been around since 1040 (!) and the taste, heft and color might even trick a seasoned beer-drinker a few pints in. The hefeweizen presence is there along with notes of lemon, wheat and a few cloves here and there for spice.
4. BrewDog Stout AF Non-Alcoholic Beer
A non-alcoholic stout? Really? Yes, it’s possible to maintain the full-body flavor without all the booze if that’s what your heart desires. This full-bodied brew is made with coffee for a roasted flavor profile that’ll fill you up and satisfy your sweet tooth with notes of milk sugar and oats as well as chocolate wheat. This beer won’t get you buzzed but it will give you a caffeine buzz, so be sure to drink it far enough ahead of your bedtime so you’re not tossing and turning. Plus, it’s only 77 calories per serving!
5. O’Doul’s Amber Non-Alcoholic Beer
Be sure to avoid their premium brew, which will leave you lost in a sea of watered-down dredge you’re used to with non-alcoholic beers. This one, however, does not fail to impress. It’s as close to a real amber lager as you’ll get in the non-alcoholic camp, with a grain-filled body, sweetness and carbonation on the finish. Enjoy the sweet malts and husky corn contrasted with the sweet caramel for a rounded out profile that won’t leave you wishing you had opted for an alcoholic option.
6. Buckler Non-Alcoholic Beer
BEST EURO BRAND
If you’re tempted to reach for a Heineken 0.0 we encourage you to opt for this one instead. It’s made by Heineken in Amsterdam but has that Euro lager taste you’re used to along with a roundness to the body you won’t get with that other brew. It’s got a dry, grassy feel and a bran-like tip to its flavor arch. It’ll leave you with a sweet taste that’s vague but not unsatisfying.
7. Erdinger Weissbier Non-Alcoholic
BEST GERMAN WEISSBIER
When you think of beer you think of Germany, and there’s a reason for that. The brews that come from that part of the world are hoppy, refreshing and contain the classic flavors you associate with your favorite beer-drinking adventures. This blend has all of that and is healthier than many alcoholic options out there. It has a grainy sweetness to it that’ll remind you of bananas and grains, and it contains B9 for supporting and healthy metabolism. It also contains isotonic properties found in drinks heavy in electrolytes like Gatorade, so you’ll be hydrating while consuming your beer for the first time, maybe ever?
8. BrewDog Nanny State
Back to our favorites over at BrewDog, this beer is named the “Holy Grail of low alcohol” on their website and contains just the right blend of specialty malts and North American hops to squeeze into that title swiftly. If you’re used to NA beer having no taste, this one is about to set you straight with its robust flavor profile, bitter and hoppy feel and very low alcohol content. It’s brewed right here in the USA and has a medium-light amber color that’ll make it look like you’re drinking an actual beer — your secret’s safe with us.
9. Coors Non-Alcoholic Beer
EASIEST TO FIND
A good non-alcoholic beer can be difficult to find, but this tremendously popular brand is available almost anywhere and is actually a decent non-alcoholic pick. It’s about on par with Coors Light, so if you’re looking for something to satisfy the craving and don’t have access to a smaller, boutique liquor store in your area where the rest of these are most often found, this one’s a safe bet.