Dryish: Introduction to non-alcoholic beers
Why drink non alcoholic beer?
There are three main reasons for drinking non-alcoholic beers:
Firstly (and most obviously) as a direct substitute for alcoholic beer to cut down on alcohol.
Secondly for dietary reasons - non alcoholic beers usually have fewer calories than alcoholic beers, so drinking them can help weight-loss.
The third reason for drinking non alcoholic beers is as a low calorie, low sugar alternative to more conventional soft drinks and fruit juices.
Which non alcoholic beers to try first?
5 to try
Dry/ish recommends five non alcoholic beers to try first. All are easy to find (supermarkets or Amazon) and are well rated.
Heineken 0.0 Lager
Erdinger Alcohol Free Wheat Beer
Lucky Saint Pilsener-style
Brewdog Punk AF IPA
Adnams Ghost Ship 0.5% Pale Ale
Use Dry/ish to read more and find stockists
Do non alcoholic beers have no alcohol?
Non alcoholic beers usually contain less than 0.5% alcohol, which is the threshold for describing a beer as 'alcohol-free' in many countries. However in the UK, by law, alcohol free-beer must have less than 0.05% alcohol. Therefore in the UK many beers with between 0.05% and 0.5% alcohol use the legally murky term 'non-alcoholic' to describe themselves. So, many so-called non alcoholic beers contain around 0.5% alcohol. However study after study has shown that a 0.5% alcohol drink has no effect on the drinker. Dry/ish allows you to search only for 0.0% alcohol beers if that's what you're looking for.
Are non alcoholic beers good for you?
Far less alcohol and fewer calories means most non alcoholic beers are better for a drinker's health than conventional beer. However, be careful; many non alcoholic beers contain significant amounts of sugar and as a result a few have high calorie levels - Dry/ish highlights these.
How is non-alcoholic beer made?
There are four ways brewers make non-alcoholic beers.
1. Brewers make a full strength beer and then use heat to evaporate the alcohol away - the first non-alcoholic beers were made this way. The process has been improved so that the alcohol evaporates with minimal heating and it continues to be used today by a small number of brewers. The evaporation process can reduce the flavour of the beer and leave it tasting thin or watery.
2. Reverse Osmosis: Brewers make a full strength beer and then remove the alcohol using a process known as reverse osmosis which filters the alcohol out of the beer without heating or chemically altering it. This has less of an impact on the taste of the beer, but can remove flavour tied to the alcohol itself.
3. Arrested fermentation: Brewers use conventional ingredients but stop fermentation when the alcohol content reaches around 0.5% (arrested fermentation), which produces beer ‘naturally’ but requires careful management to ensure flavours develop fully.
4. New strains of yeast: Brewers use new strains of yeast that generate very little alcohol during the brewing process which produce beers ‘naturally’ but requires careful choice of ingredients and skilled management to create beers with an attractive taste.