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The delights of enjoying a cold, crisp, refreshing beer are nearly unmatched, but if you want to tone down the booze big-time, the best non-alcoholic beers are the way to go. Non-alcoholic beers have grown in popularity in recent years as an option for everyone from teetotalers to those obsessed with fitness who want a refreshing brew without as many calories and with a minimal amount of alcohol by volume.
Plus, it’s (nearly) Dry January, and some folks also want to cut back or forego boozy beers entirely during the holidays. That approach is always relatively tricky in a time filled with holiday parties, so non-alcoholic options are a must. Enter non-alcoholic beer that doesn’t skimp on flavor or quality.
What’s the catch, and (beyond the obvious), how is N/A beer different than regular old beer? 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. And when we say delicious, we mean with flavor to rival the best craft beers on the market.
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 percent 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.
To find the perfect non-alcoholic beer for you, check out some of our favorites this season and into the next.
1. Athletic Brewing Non-Alcoholic Upside Dawn Golden
Athletic Brewing has mastered the art of crafting non-alcoholic beers that are favored by fitness enthusiasts and beer fans alike, with a particularly large following among, well, athletes. At only 50 calories per serving and 12 carbs, Athletic Brewing has led the way for some time now with beers that blend quality ingredients with a low ABV (0.5 percent, the limit for a beer to classify as non-alcoholic). With engaging can designs and a wide range of styles, from a flavor-packed IPA (sans booze) to this crisp and refreshing golden ale, Athletic Brewing is a widely available, highly delicious N/A beer. Better still? Beers like Upside Dawn are crafted to remove gluten.
2. Partake Pale Ale
BEST LO CAL N/A BEER
One of the biggest keys to look for when adding some non-alcoholic beer to your fridge? Well, besides the requisite flavor and “as-close-to-craft-as-possible” mantra, it can be equally useful to look for options that ditch the rather significant calories that you might even tend to get with a slightly lighter beer, like a pale ale. Sure, a pale ale might not be the lightest beer option among boozy brews, but Partake has found a way to strip its pale ale of both booze and calories. At just 10 calories a can, it’s a lightweight sipper with just a touch of alcohol (0.3 percent, to be exact). As Partake says, this non-alcoholic pale ale just about has it all, with “fruity and floral hop varietals that infuse the beer with bright flavors of orange zest, grapefruit and a whisper of pine.” We’ll raise a lo-cal can to that.
3. BrewDog Elvis AF Non-Alcoholic IPA
BEST NON-ALCOHOLIC IPA
BrewDog has staked its reputation on crafting beer for those who march to beat of their own drums, offering customers the chance to get in on the ground floor as investors of sorts. They’ve also opened a “craft beer hotel” (seriously) in Columbus, Ohio, and they frequently serve up bold beers in bold can designs while taking a distinctly different approach than other major breweries. They might seem like the last sort of brewery to make a beer with just 20 calories and 0.49 percent ABV, but that’s what they’ve done with this N/A take on its Elvis Juice IPA. It’s exclusive to the U.S., with quite the grapefruit punch, just like your favorite loaded IPA.
4. Surreal Brewing 17-Mile Porter
BEST NON-ALCOHOLIC PORTER
Just as with the regular world of craft beer, non-alcoholic beer comes in a rather astonishing variety of styles, like this porter from Surreal Brewing. The best thing about the best non-alcoholic beers is how they manage to deliver the same experience as your favorite trusted craft beers, but with so few calories, so little booze (in this case, 0.35 percent ABV) and so much flavor. This is an award-winning beer that, as Surreal says, is “packed with notes of dark chocolate, roasted coffee malts and earthy hops.” Sounds too good to pass up, right?
5. Suntory All-Free Non-Alcoholic
BEST TRUE ZERO-ABV BEER
For a truly alcohol-free imbibing experience, go with the crisp and light Suntory All-Free, launched by the beverage giant to meet growing consumer demand. It’s a no-fuss drinking experience that Suntory notes should serve as an ideal alternative for those craving a beer-like drinking experience with no booze whatsoever. It helps that it mimics the lightweight sensation of sipping your favorite pilsner on a hot day, and it should prove a refreshing option for hot-weather outdoor pursuits, too. You could even fire up the grill and enjoy this beer alongside a favorite burger, minus the (occasional) craft beer-fueled headache the next day.