I get the feeling that we are about to enter the golden age of non alcoholic beer. As more and more breweries tap into this, once completely disregarded, section of the beverage market, we as consumers get all the benefits. Specifically, we get a lot more choice, and much better quality.
The rise of non alcoholic beers seems to have coincided with the rise of craft beers – both were few and far between 5 or 10 years ago, but now both have exploded in popularity. It is no surprise, then, that they seem so well suited to combine with each other, with plenty of options of non alcoholic craft beer – going against the short-lived preconception that in order to enjoy drinks of this kind, you had to drink exceptionally strong beers.
There are so many options available that some can find it somewhat daunting – where do you even begin? Well, if you could do with a helping hand, you are in the right place – we have compiled a list of the best non alcoholic beer available. Your new favourite drink may well be featured below…
How To Classify A Non Alcoholic Beer
Before we get into the various beers, I suppose we should first establish what exactly we mean when we say non alcoholic beer. You see, ‘non alcoholic beer’ rarely contains no alcohol. It is all based on the Alcohol by Volume (ABV) measurement for each drink. In terms of the official categorisation, according to drinkaware there are four main categories:
- Alcohol-free beer = no more than 0.05% ABV
- De-alcoholised beer = no more than 0.5% ABV
- Low-alcohol beer = no more than 1.2% ABV
- Alcoholic beer = contains more than 1.2% ABV
So, as you can see, even ‘alcohol free’ beer does actually contain a small amount of alcohol. This needs to be viewed in context though – alcohol is present in many common foods and drinks that many would find surprising, and it doesn’t have an effect on us when we consume them. Things like rye bread (0.18% abv), soy sauce (2% abv) and overripe bananas (0.4% abv) all contain alcohol, but we will never get ‘drunk’ from eating bananas. Our bodies can process alcohol quicker than it can get into our bloodstream at these quantities, which is why they are generally considered to be ‘non alcoholic’ or ‘alcohol free’. It refers more to the effect that it has on us, rather than the actual alcohol content.
For ease, we will be referring to all of the beers on this list as ‘non alcoholic’ or ‘alcohol free’, but it is always best to consult the label if you are concerned.
Types Of Alcohol Free Beer
As I mentioned above, one of the major movers in the non alcoholic beer industry has been the craft beer market. This may be, in part, due to the fact that younger people provide a big chunk of both markets – more younger people are turning to low or no alcohol beers, and the craft beer industry has always been aimed at the younger market. It makes perfect sense that these two have combined so naturally.
There are plenty of other types of alcohol free beers available now though – lagers, wheat beers, pilsners, and even stouts and brown ales. Whatever your preferred type of beer, it is highly likely that you will be able to find a low or no alcohol alternative.
Top Alcohol Free Beers
You will find that these beers are often available in mixed cases, which means that you can try more than one. This is a great way to hunt down your favourite beer, and I would recommend trying as many different options as possible – why limit yourself? In the list that follows of the best alcohol free beer that we have found, we do feature a few mixed cases from certain breweries – we will cover the range of beers that you get in each one, but highlight our favourite each time.
So, without further ado, let’s get cracking and compile our best non alcoholic beers…
Drop Bear Beer Mixed Case
Let’s kick things off with a fantastic mixed case from Drop Bear Beer – a non alcoholic beer specialist based in Swansea. They were founded in 2019, so they are real newcomers to the market – in that time, though, they have established themselves as one of the most popular non alcoholic beer producers in the country, and have already won many awards for their beers – including one at the World Beer Awards..
So, you can be pretty sure that these guys know what they are doing. On top of being non alcoholic, all of their drinks are vegan and gluten free. What they have done is create a broad portfolio of drinks that almost anyone can drink, which may go some way to justifying their incredible rise in such a short space of time.
In this case you get four different drinks: New World Lager, Yuzu Pale Ale, Tropical IPA Gluten Free, Bonfire Stout. As you can see, it is a broad range of beers, with something for everyone.
The one that jumped out at me was the Tropical IPA – the type of drink that has always appealed to me. This one didn’t disappoint. It gave me exactly what I wanted, a spikey IPA, with a real bite – the sort of drink that from the first sip your entire mouth comes to life and every taste bud starts tingling. It is absolutely bursting with fruit; passionfruit, citrus and peach. It is the perfect drink for a hot day, to drink outside as you relax under the sun.
The range of different types of beer in this case is both its biggest plus, but is also what may put some people off – for example, those that aren’t keen on stout, may think that this case is not for them. My advice, though, would be to give them all a go as you may be pleasantly surprised, and at the very least you will have a great selection to offer any guests that come over.
It is very fairly priced, in the middle of the scale that we will be looking at today, so nothing to put you off there. Give this a try, I am certain you will find that one of these four beers becomes one you seek out again and again.
Tiny Rebel Mixed
We’re going to stay in Wales now, and head over to Newport for a look at another mixed case. This one comes from Tiny Rebel, a brewery that have slowly built themselves up to become known as one of the premium craft beer producers in the country, and have countless awards to back this up.
Full disclosure – I have been a fan of Tiny Rebel for a little while now. They have been going since 2012, started off by two friends working out of a garage, and now have a few bars and an ever expanding range of beers. This includes, of course, them dabbling with the alcohol free market.
This case comes packed with four different beers for you to try: Space Cake Oat Milk Stout, Rhubarb and Custard Sour, Party Clwb Tropical IPA and Party hard Pale Ale. Again, you will have noticed that you get a wide range of different beers here, a real craft beer extravaganza.
The Clwb Tropical has long been a favourite of mine, and is so fruity and delicious, I couldn’t let it go without mentioning it, but today I am going to focus on the Rhubarb and Custard Sour. Now, sour beers are definitely an acquired taste, but I have grown to love them, and this is one of the most exciting that I have tasted.
I say exciting, because it seems to attack you from all angles. The first wave is that nostalgic, smooth, vanilla-y custard which is quickly followed by the hard hitting sour rhubarb, which then lingers in your mouth creating a devilishly potent aftertaste.
This is another great case for the craft beer aficionado – you get a little bit of everything here, and certainly another one to consider. As with most Tiny Rebel beers, they are a bit more expensive than some of the competition, but they are certainly worth giving a go.
Low Tide Mixed Case
Let’s venture into England now, albeit not very far, with a trip to Lowtide Brewing Co based in Bath. Now, these guys have not been around for very long, since 2019 in fact. They began life as Crafty AF, and they just aimed to supply the UK with alcohol free craft beers that they had sourced from around the world.
Something just wasn’t quite right though – while they were trying and selling some fantastic non alcoholic beers, they just couldn’t quite find their perfect beer. So they decided to make it themselves! Using all of the knowledge they had picked up during their global sourcing, they changed their name to Lowtide Brewery and got to work.
In this mixed case, you will find four examples of their work: New England IPA, Brune-DMC Belgium Ale, Atomic Blonde and ‘Are Wheat There Yet?’ (an American wheat beer). Unlike the other mixed cases we’ve looked at so far, there is no stout, but there is still an excellent range of beers here.
I’m going to make a special mention of the Brune-DMC Belgium Ale. I was initially drawn to this one because you don’t see as many alcohol free Belgian beers, so I was interested to see how it fared. I was not disappointed! It is dark, with an incredibly full body (this is not always the case with alcohol free beers) and it has a distinctly hoppy flavour to it, with a sweet and fruity finish. It really did hit the spot!
This does appear to be one of the more expensive cases available on this list, but it is worth noting that you get the larger 440ml cans in this case, so it does represent good value. It is also quite rare to see this size for an alcohol free drink. These are well worth your consideration.
Lervig No Worries IPA
Something a little bit different now, as we look at this offering from Norwegian brewery Lervig. This is a company that has quietly built themselves an excellent reputation in the craft beer industry, as they have continued to expand their range from easy-drinking beers to complex sours and stouts.
They have recently dipped their toes into the alcohol free market, and No Worries is the result. Unlike the other beers that we have looked at so far, this comes in a case of just the one drink, so you know exactly what you are going to get when you order it.
So what do you get? You get a fantastic beer that is both easy to drink and yet also somehow slightly complex. The secret may be in its production – they use Maltose, which is a brewer’s yeast which can’t ferment. This is how they keep the alcohol levels low, rather than extracting it after the brewing takes place like most other alcohol free beers. This means that you get a great, full flavoured beer.
It has a light hoppiness, thus the easy drinking, but it is also a full bodied and incredibly refreshing IPA. This is an absolute crowd pleaser – if you are having a group of people over, a fridge packed full of these will go down very well indeed, I am sure.
In terms of price, it is towards the higher end of the beers that we are looking at today, but it does feel like a beer that is worth that little bit extra, even just from the artwork on the can. That alone can provide that WOW factor when you are hosting, so definitely one to consider.
A Ship Full Of IPA
Let’s stay in Scandinavia now, and pop over to Sweden to check out another alcohol free IPA from Brutal Brewing. They were established in 2011, at a time when microbreweries were really beginning to shake up the beer industry all over Europe.
The whole company was based around, like so many craft beer companies, a group of beer enthusiasts that wanted to create something special – their dream product. They became well known for their Pistonhead range, which made big waves over here in the UK.
The non alcoholic beer that we are looking at today is from a different range. This is an alcohol free version of their A Ship Full Of IPA, which is a 5.8% abv beer. It is a bold move to attempt to replicate a strong beer like this, but without the alcohol. Many other breweries would settle for a different drink and rebrand it, so it tells us something about the confidence of Brutal Brewing that they decided to take this challenge on.
Their confidence is fully justified as well. I’m not sure how exactly, but they have made a really powerful, and ‘strong’, tasting beer, but without the alcohol. It retains much of the flavour of the ‘original’ – the fruity and sweet notes of honey and orange, but also really packs a punch in a way that is quite rare amongst low and no alcohol beer.
It is also worth noting that this is completely alcohol free, at 0.0% abv, which again is pretty rare, even in the ‘alcohol free’ market.
Pricewise, this is another one that is towards the higher end of the scale, but it does offer something a bit different. It is more of a traditional ale than a craft beer, and is an excellent replica of the alcoholic version. If that is something that you are after, I don’t think you will find a better one than this.
Oktoberfest Low Alcohol German Beers
Okay, now we are really stepping things up a notch when it comes to variety. We’ll stay in mainland Europe, and over to Germany. However, now we are not looking at a brewery – now we are looking at a national institution and a world renowned festival – Oktoberfest.
For the uninitiated, Oktoberfest is the world’s largest beer festival, held in Munich every year. It is a huge part of Bravarian culture, and has seen ‘homage’ events take place all over the world. While it does have a certain reputation around getting drunk, at its heart it is a social event, where people from all walks of life get together. It may have often been an event for people that didn’t want to drink alcohol to avoid, but that doesn’t have to be the case anymore.
To emphatically prove my point, we have here a selection box of six different Oktoberfest-inspired beers: Maisel’s Wheat Beer 0.5%, Krombacher 0.5%, Paulaner Wheat Beer 0.5%, Furstenburg 0.0%, Schneider Wheat Beer 0.5%, Andechs Wheat Beer 0.5%. You will have noticed, and expected I am sure, that there are plenty of wheat beers in that selection, being synonymous with Germany.
For this section though, I am going to focus on the Furstenburg 0.0% – a pilsner. This is a really refreshing drink, light and hoppy, with ever so slight hints of fruitiness in the background. As you would expect from a pilsner, this is a drink with an incredibly clean and crisp finish.
If you want to try something a little bit different, or take part in Oktoberfest without the alcohol, then this could be the case for you. It offers so much variety in terms of breweries, and if you like wheat beer, you are bound to find one that you love in this lot. It is reasonably priced, too, so nothing to put you off there. Prost!
BrewDog Punk AF 0.5%
We’re down to the last two. Next up, we’re going to check out a non alcoholic beer from a company that is fast becoming a UK superpower in the brewing world – BrewDog. The Scottish giants have changed the landscape of the beer industry in the UK, almost single-handedly, with wave upon wave of craft beer innovations.
It should be no surprise, then, to find that when they decided to dip their toes into the alcohol free world, that they would produce a drink that has made it onto our list of best non alcoholic drinks.
It is a category that they seem to genuinely take very seriously, with a few different beers on offer, and they have even set up the UK’s first alcohol free bar down in London. This beer, Punk AF (the AF standing for Alcohol Free….) is the low alcohol replica of their flagship PunkIPA – one of the most popular craft beers in the country.
This really works – they have managed to capture the spikiness and bite of the original, as well as the juicy and fruity flavour, with almost pine-like and grassy notes as well. It is a classic craft beer that I am sure will be incredibly popular both with you and any guests you might have.
It also benefits from being one of the cheapest beers that we are looking at today, which makes it even more attractive. My advice would be to have a look around for some specialist beers to enjoy, but always have some of these in the fridge at the same time.
Days Alcohol Free Lager
We complete our list of the best non alcoholic beers with this effort from Days – London based alcohol free beer specialists. They were formed by two friends that had become fed up with their lack of options when it came to alcohol free beer, so they made some themselves.
They are quite unique in that all of their beer is genuinely alcohol free – 0.0% abv. This is all down to their brewing techniques – there is never any alcohol produced, so there is nothing to remove at the end of the process. Often, the process of removing alcohol has an impact on the flavour, so this is a great way to preserve the authentic taste that they are going for.
This lager is incredibly refreshing. It is incredibly easy to drink, and the perfect accompaniment to a hot, sunny day. It has subtle floral and citrus notes, but at the same time you get that classic lager malty finish. It’s a great drink.
As a side note, Days also pledge 2% of all of their sales to “initiatives that empower fresh thinking towards mental health”. They are a good company, that want the best for people, which is why they want to provide genuinely good alternatives to alcoholic drinks.
This is another product that is right in the middle of the price range for the drinks that we have looked at today, so there is nothing to put you off from that point of view. If you like a lager, then you could do an awful lot worse than this one. Give it a try.