Heineken 00 beer is definitely one of the stalwarts of the new range of non-alcoholic options. From airport loungers, flights to bars it seemed to be the one that jumped out although not always around in supermarkets. It is very distinctive in the green bottle with the 00 clearly part of the brand. It has been one of the front runners and given my background in that I can’t drink alcohol, I became rather obsessed with the small print. I’ve never read so many backs of bottles in my life but maybe that’s a good thing, it is surprising what you find!
I have previously talked about the importance of checking the back label on non-alcoholic drinks and this is especially true if you drink this. It is probably why when you ask for a non-alcoholic drink in a bar you are offered everything from 0.5 to just well it is low alcohol not alcohol free.
Firstly the reviews are great and the taste seems to be really liked, it is definitely legally classed as alcohol free. From the brand that brought you the slogan “refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach” even their website seems keen to point that out. ‘Removing alcohol from regular 5% Heineken® would have been easy, but it wouldn’t deliver the best tasting non-alcoholic beer. Heineken® 0.0 is brewed from scratch.’ That is as clear as a bell then. It boasts the flavors based on the alcohol cousin. So I can see why people are happy to go into a bar and say Heineken 00 beer please. What’s not to like?
So is Heineken 00 beer really alcohol free?
As the drink aware website point outs “Is non-alcoholic beer alcohol-free? ‘Alcohol-free’ or non-alcohol beer does contain a small amount of alcohol (up to 0.05% ABV). This is because some alcohol naturally forms as part of the brewing process.” This is really helpful as one thing I did not understand is that some alcohol forms as part of the natural process in orange juice bread and some fruit. Interesting I thought, I really need to cut down on the orange juice and bread binge during weekends.
Here in the UK the clarifications are helpful if not confusing as some products do not have alcohol as part of the brewing process at all! However, for complete disclosure here are the official stats because it seems to be a byproduct nature! It is the first one I double check because the others are completely no go areas for me but maybe not for you.
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
If you are concerned read the label at the back of Heineken 00 beer
Heineken 00 beer to be fair to them make this kind of clear in the small print at the back of the bottle next to the abv figure which says 0.0% so it seems they are fine to call it “alcohol free” beer although there are other completely 0.0 abv brands out there. However, finding them is difficult because and this has been said to me ” yes but we sell Heineken 00 beer “.
Some airlines have said this to me so if you are really health conscious keep a look out. It is clear then we are talking about a trace of alcohol but legally they have to put that and it is for that reason I with regret stay away from this option rightly or wrongly. In reality of course you would have to drink hundreds of bottles to even register the alcohol content so certainly one for drivers and those cutting back on the hangovers. However, if you are alcohol dependent maybe best to stay away although the debate contains very different messages and contradictions.
I’ve become an expert at ethanol fermentation!
To help the Heineken 00 explanation I’ve been looking at this scientific explanation. It seems that the process is where yeasts convert sugars into ethanol (alcohol) and carbon dioxide. So if you are producing beers under 0.5% ABV you have some choice you can either remove the alcohol from full-strength beer or use a process that only produces very small amounts of alcohol. The completely 0.0% ABV beer bypasses this completely very often which is why I’m happier drinking those brands.
It seems this is a natural process in the mix here as good deal of food from yogurts to bread roles also do this. So we appear to be exposed to some alcohol albeit tiny regardless. However, some brewer’s mange to conquer this or is that just what is needed a “wide market” and a range of options. I think it probably it as I’m not the alcohol police! As a funny aside I’ve seen it be passed off on many TV shows as the full alcohol option but the blue front label of Heineken 00 gives it away despite the green bottle. It does make me smile!
So not my only option thank goodness
Overall this is a welcome addition to the 0.0% market but with the proviso that for people who can’t drink alcohol not more than 0.05% could prove unhelpful in people getting more options out there. There is no doubt the taste is good and the bars love it but unfortunately for some bars and restaurants this gives them the “get out clause” but we serve Heineken 00 beer “so what is a matter with you”? They use it as a statement rather than a question.
Even one of the key UK holiday airlines vocal on drinking while flying has this as their only option. As this website grows my aim is to interview key leadership figures to get them to better understand the challenges and as I’ve said it is good business for them! Hopefully Heineken 00 beer remains a key option but with a wider selection in that fridge at the back of the bar for those who can’t drink alcohol like me no matter what the natural process.