Non-alcoholic drinks have slowly shed an awkward social faux pas status as more people cut alcohol out of their lives — and beer is no exception. Because more people are ditching booze altogether, it’s good news for those who are thinking of cutting back, as more and more alcohol-free brands spring up with new brews specifically. In fact, taste purveyors in the beer space have gotten so good at drafting NA (non-alcoholic) beer that, sometimes, even the most refined palettes would have a hard time telling the difference at first.
Take our very own Good Housekeeping Institute’s Becca Miller, an assistant editor in the Test Kitchen. She recently crowned the top pick in this ranking thanks to a taste test of a faux beer that mimicked all the best elements of an IPA, minus any potential hangover. In her words, if she hadn’t poured it herself: “I would drink it and not know it was alcohol-free.”
As any beer aficionado would quickly tell you, there’s a tiny catch with non-alcoholic beer — there’s indeed a smidge of alcohol in most products. Current Food and Drug Administration language suggests a faux beer can be labeled as so as long as the amount of alcohol doesn’t exceed 0.5% ABV. Some brands may go out of their way to ensure there’s literally zero alcohol in their products, but if you notice the 0.5% ABV threshold on your new favorite product, don’t stress too much. FDA officials report that any drink (even soda!) could contain traces of alcohol naturally thanks to “flavoring extracts or from natural fermentation.”
What is non-alcoholic beer?
Non-alcoholic beer is much different than low-alcohol beer or any other special diet subset (like light beers!) as it’s made differently. Mainly, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beers start their production process in the same manner — it’s only when brewers heat the beer in production that alcohol is largely burned off. Per this Times of India report, alcohol can also be removed from the beer by filtering it out before the brewing process is complete.
In addition to being a great alternative for those wishing to avoid alcohol entirely, non-alcoholic beer tends to be lower in calories for those working through a diet where alcohol is restricted for its caloric blowback (or something like Dry January). There’s a solid range in the sugar content on these beers, which you’ll certainly taste since there’s no alcohol to balance out sweetness, but most are within good dietary limits.
Below, follow along as we share the 10 best non-alcoholic beers in all different styles — IPAs to lagers and beyond — for every beer fan. Cheers!
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1 Non-Alcoholic IPA
Our top pick on the list, Partake’s IPA can easily stand up to other full-bodied beers that blend a hoppy and malt-forward flavor profile. While there’s only 0.3% ABV in each can, Miller says that there’s a lovely bitterness to this non-alcoholic option to counteract the lack of alcohol. She wasn’t the only one to note that this IPA could pass in a blind taste test; other beer fans in her home kitchen also said they were impressed by its acute similarity to the real thing. Despite noting its even balance, Miller says Partake has nailed a malty undertone that true IPA lovers will enjoy.
2 Run Wild Non-Alcoholic IPA
Athletic Brewing Co.’s expansive line of non-alcoholic beer helped make the category more popular with consumers, and it’s a great place to start if you’ve never tried one before. The brand takes a craft approach in making this IPA that executes a heavy malt profile you’ll fall in love with. Another boon? Each can is just 70 calories total.
3 Alcohol-Free 0.0 Beer
It’s the Heineken you know and love, minus all that alcohol. If you’re searching for alcoholic replacements due to a new diet, this option may be best for you. Heineken’s 0.0 Lager has just 21 calories per bottle with a mere 4g of carbs, 1.3g of which is sugar. While the flavors aren’t as strong due to its light makeup, it’s a great option for those trying their best to reduce calories overall.
4 Coors Non-Alcoholic Beer
Maybe surprisingly, Coors’ offering in the NA beer space doesn’t have the same flavor profile of its Light cousin — at all. It’s definitely has a sweet mouthfeel for a non-alcoholic beer, which will definitely appeal to some beer fans!
5 Hefeweissbier Alkoholfrei
Given reviews and its status as a best seller, it’s easy to see why German-based Weihenstephaner’s non-alcoholic beer is an all-time great. This feels closer to something that you’d actually be served at Oktoberfest; the gold hue and aroma all come together thanks to a wheat-forward recipe that’s blessed with citrus notes as well.
6 Original Non-Alcoholic Beer
Like many of the other brews coming out of Germany, this non-alcoholic variation is made by adhering to what’s known as the German “purity” law. Per the BBC, this means brewers can only use barley, hops, and water in various amounts to create their beer. Clausthaler’s crisp taste has been meeting standards for many years, but the brand has also launched a cranberry-cinnamon spinoff called Santa Clausthaler, too.
7 Special Effects
There’s a subtle sweetness in this non-alcohol blend that’s perfectly balanced with a bitter finish. “A non-alc beer with interesting notes and layers. I get hoppiness and complexity,” one shopper says in a review. “Makes other booze-free beers taste like a participation trophy.”
8 Raspberry Gose
Perfect in the warmer months, a Gose brew is much different than the others on this list — it swings past balanced into sour territory. But it’s peppered with salty flavors to bring it back into a pleasantly unique space, which pairs perfectly with the infused raspberries that add an equally noticeable tart note. This is a perfect addition to any outdoor barbecue or ice cream social.
9 Stout Alcohol-Free Beer
It’s definitely the strongest beer on this list, with plenty of malty notes (Grüvi says it uses two different kinds of malts before brewing is complete) alongside mild oatmeal and toasted malt. But the 45 calories total in this beer may come as a welcome shock given its robust flavors.
10 Ginger Beer
Okay, so it’s definitely a departure from a regular ale — but many might not know that ginger beer is also fermented, just like others on this list. It doesn’t include hops or gluten, but does include plenty of ginger flavors to please any beer lover.
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