8 Reasons why Alcohol-Free Beers are good 2021
Now it’s a complicated picture as many websites will talk about alcohol-free beer and low alcoholic beers. However, they will also speak about non-alcoholic beer.
What is this thing they speak of?
When I could not drink alcohol anymore, I decided to go down the 0.0 abv route, alcohol-free.
Boy, was I in for a shock.
What were all these labels, and what do they mean?
As a former wine drinker who liked the occasional beer, it was like riding a bike again for the first time, and I felt sure I would fall off.
I got offered everything on the menu, from 0.5 abv to 1.4 abv beers. They all look decent, but my question was, that is great but do they have any alcohol?
I got all sorts of answers from “dunno” to why do you care?
I found out later there was probably more alcohol in my orange juice that I was knocked back, but I knew no better as a newbie in the alcohol-free world.
Even some of the so-called alcohol-free drinks merchants were unfriendly toward me when I started this blog.
But given I had been providing 48 hours to live after a health scare, I did not give a toss!
So I decided to learn and go back to school, and I was pleased I did?
Yes, 100%, but why?
What is a non-alcoholic beer?
Let’s get some facts from the drinkaware website.
I want you to start loving labels, like really loving them. You love something called ABV, and not all beer alcohol-free or otherwise had the exact figure when I started to look. The drink menus were non-existent for alcohol-free drinks.
What some people call alcohol-free in some countries they call low alcohol in others and vice versa.
This alcohol-free lifestyle can be complicated but stay with me.
Here is what a label can tell us about a non-alcohol beer. So, for example, pick up a bottle of that pub alcohol-free classic after you have realised that is your only choice and check the info.
Here are some guidelines in the UK, but it’s rigorous and will vary from country to country.
- Alcohol-free: no more than 0.05% ABV ( so a trace if any)
- De-alcoholised: no more than 0.5% ABV
- Low alcohol: no more than 1.2% ABV
Why do some alcohol-free beers have a trace of alcohol?
It is simple, really, and one I overlooked a lot.
Alcohol is naturally produced, and it will depend on the brewing method.
For example, even some burger rolls will have alcohol in them.
It will also depend on how the beer is produced.
For some, it is brewed with no alcohol like an alcohol-free beer such as Bavaria 0.0 or, like Heineken, is the alcohol is taken out afterwards.
Either way, a trace can be minimal but always check with a medical professional.
Some will say alcohol-free beers are not good because they could be a trigger for drinking alcohol again.
As one guy said to me on a train once:
“The thing is, even if it’s alcohol-free, it triggers something in me, and before you know it, I’m downing the real stuff!”
It’s great he was so self-aware.
It does not do that for the majority, but it is crucial to consider, regardless of alcohol, by volume.
What is the range of alcohol-free beers, then?
Let’s keep it simple. I’m a zero point zero kind of guy for health reasons; I don’t go near alcohol.
But being the hypocrite I am, I do eat a banana.
I have never been told not to!
Non-alcoholic beer could be anything from 0.0% to 0.5% in terms of alcohol.
But if you want to be alcohol-free, which this blog is all about then, I go 0.0%. It keeps it simple that way.
However, it is proving popular regardless of dark beers to lagers, big breweries to craft beer; it’s easy to get carried away with the fancy labels and ignore the bit with the ABV stat.
If you are diving, pregnant or want to stay off alcohol together, then the zero abv approach is a good one.
If you are happy going up to 0.5 per cent, then there are far more options, but not really in bars and restaurants.
Online ordering has to lead the way as there very often is not another option. It’s tough out there as an alcohol-free drinker.
However, I would like to celebrate alcohol-free beer regardless, so let’s at least celebrate some wins!
8 Reasons why alcohol-free beers are good
I hope you will let me know your thoughts via the podcast page. It is great hearing about your experiences.
We can then talk about them on-air.
1. You don’t need to spit them out anymore
Drink a bottle of Freestar or San Miguel Zero, and you will know what I mean. They are pretty amazing.
Gone are the days of alcohol-free beer tasting like some bad gone off liquid where a polite smile got you through, and the rest was left on the bar.
They have zoned in on the taste, and brewers know this means big business, so a mix of science, production, focus groups, branding has all meant better-tasting beers without alcohol.
The growth in these drinks is double digital growth every year, with the young market very profitable.
They aren’t going to chuck those profits down the beer plug hole very quickly.
Of course, if you come into this thinking, but I want alcohol, you will be disappointed. These beers are not meant to have their taste, but they mimic alcohol versions in some respect.
For me, though, the difference is clear. They are now making beer minus the alcohol rather than creating something that might be accepted as passable with care if we are lucky.
Alcohol-free beers are quality products and of themselves. So let’s chuck that substitute label on the window!
2. They are healthy, you know, a personal trainer told me
I was finishing off a taste-test in the 00abv podcast studio, and a fellow broadcaster of mine who is a personal trainer said that many alcohol-free beers are isotonic
Now you will associate the term with a sports drink or maybe even the Olympics. We even have tennis stars bringing their faces to alcohol-free beer brands now.
If you think about it, it makes sense. Beer is natural rather than some of the awful fizzy options that would have been the only alternative in the past.
- Not the many artificial chemicals you see on the back of so many soda drinks nowadays.
But my only caution is this. Non-alcoholic beer is a not diet drink.
So quality over quantity is critical.
But with no alcohol, there are often significantly fewer calories in them.
Do a quick label check, and you will soon realise that.
For example, a can of Bud Zero is under 50 calories. So hardly diet, but it can certainly help with the waistline as long as you have some balance in your diet.
Through the NHS in the UK, we also know that alcohol accounts for many physical diseases, let alone mental issues.
What’s not to like in an alcohol-free beer world? But I get it if you do totally.
I am not the ex-smoker who tells you to give up!
3. The choice of non-alcoholic beers is increasing every year.
I look left then right, and there is another alcohol-free beer to review on the podcast.
It’s pretty amazing, really and another reason alcohol-free beers are becoming so popular and are good on so many levels.
Stouts, ale, lagers, low or no, the choice is there.
The branding is also increasing in quality.
From 0.0 on the front of the bottle to careful design and colour make-up.
Plus, the smaller craft brewers are getting in on the mix, such as Smashed Lager.
4. In the UK, laws mean that we know what we are drinking.
Luckily law of the UK means that we know what ingredients are in alcohol-free beer.
So is it Halal, or is it Vegan?
We can probably find out from the description, including how much fat and sugar.
Plus, alcohol-free beer has what ingredients are used, so the secrecy has gone.
Of course, they don’t give us the magic, but it’s as transparent as it could be.
We now know that ‘low alcohol’ beers will be alcohol by volume between 0.5% and 1.2%, at least in the UK. It varies, unfortunately, from country to country.
‘Alcohol-free’ beers are clearly labelled with an ABV of a maximum of 0.05% and no more like Heineken, and many don’t even have any alcohol as part of the mix.
5. Alcohol-Free Beers are more than transparent
The thing is, not all alcohol-free beers are made the same.
In reality, though, they are made in two distinct ways.
- Restrict the fermentation
- Remove the alcohol afterwards.
- With the first, I guess you might lose some of the flavours as you control the fermentation of the sugar and change the malt’s environment. It’s done by temperature control.
However, I still like many of these beers, but it does come under criticism from purists.
Removing the alcohol is done through very scientific ways such as osmosis and dialysis, and the vacuum method.
It is very clever, but I admit you have to be a bit of a science geek and a good one to understand it.
This is why labelling of alcohol-free beers is critical if you are like me and you glaze over when science gets involved.
Just check that alcohol-free beer label regardless if it is no or low!
6. Low and no alcohol beers are about to pivot.
Like any trend, it suddenly happens when you least expect it.
I have only been running this blog for just over a year, but already I can see a shift.
From alcohol-free sites competing and, in some cases fighting for business, it’s chaos out there.
But with the amount of money being pumped in, I know these brewers of alcohol-free beer just would not be investing in this area if it was not worthwhile.
You can already see alcohol-free wine trying to catch up.
But let’s be honest for a moment. In the online world, it seems to be everywhere.
So you would be forgiven for thinking it’s saturated.
Walk into a bar-restaurant in the centre of Manchester, UK, where I live, and you still get that look like you are from another planet, and that means the growth has not yet happened.
In the UK, it’s probably about 5 per cent of the drinks market if you look at the various stats from industry experts.
Yet look at the history of Spain, and their first beer was successful in the 1970s. According to various industry reports, when you are in Spain, you can see the difference, which still only accounts for about 10 per cent of the market.
Check out my podcast below on Spanish Drinks without Alcohol, although we do talk alcohol-free wine as well!
That means that the best choice of alcohol-free beers is yet to come, as Spain does set an excellent benchmark for attitude and culture to alcohol-free drinks.
7. More people are saying no to alcohol
Now I am not a fan of Dry January as people smother social media for four weeks and tell you how hard it is, then go back to normal in February.
Nearly every health professional on the planet will tell you that a staged approach to alcohol is much better.
But the good news is that younger people are trying to drink less and have succeeded in making it a trend.
So social media is at heart.
In Ireland, on RTÉ Radio 1’s The Business, Liam Geraghty reported that up to 44 per cent of younger people said socialising without alcohol was good, and anxiety and health concerns were at heart.
This means the breweries will be creating more alcohol-free beer choice, not less.
8. Choice is Good
Going for an alcohol-free lifestyle, just sick of hangovers, driving, or pregnant alcohol-free beer choice is a good thing.
Now we are not there yet in the offline world, but it’s coming. I can feel it. Alcohol-free beer will be leading the way on that.
Try some choices out and see what you like or don’t like. Then, join us on our podcast each week.
But if you are looking for alternatives to alcohol, I can think of a worse thing than non-alcoholic beers regardless of your circumstance and abv preference.
What are your eight reasons why alcohol-free beers are good? Let me know in the comments below.
Eight reasons why alcohol-free beers are good? Go on, add another few!