Heineken Alcohol-Free Beer: 7 questions worth asking
What is Heineken Alcohol-Free Beer? Is it alcohol-free? Does it taste any good?
It might be your first venture into the alcohol-free drinks market.
It is not entirely true that it is alcohol-free, but it conforms to the official labelling, so less than 0.05%.
Although, in reality, the level is so low, some of our foods have more alcohol in them.
But it is worth a punt. Yes.
But it might be your only option.
So here are some crucial questions you should ask about Heineken Alcohol-Free Beer.
Is Heineken Alcohol-Free beer alcohol-free?
The thing is, it’s complicated, but once you get your head around it, your mind is put a bit more at rest.
If your first introduction to an alcohol-free beer is Heineken, in a bar or pub, you look at the green bottle, the brand and think, wow, it’s completely alcohol-free.
But you would be wrong up to a point.
It is legally alcohol-free and in the UK classed as such, but then you look at the side of the bottle, and it says less than 0.05%
Before you run for the hills, it’s undoubtedly in keeping with the UK guidelines for alcohol-free.
To get some clarification, let’s check out the facts first.
The answer is abv so alcohol by volume.
When you are looking for an alcohol-free beer, this term becomes your best friend.
And to be honest, if you are not bothered about your alcohol intake, you might not even notice it.
Or, at best, you might think that is a strong beer or a weak beer, depending on how high or low the abv figure is.
For example, the brand Stella had a considerable bad reputation around how strong it was.
And despite its quality, it eventually became public relations nightmare.
They have now ventured into the alcohol-free market and have reduced the abv on their primary product offering.
But once you are aware of the harm alcohol can do, you will begin to notice the strength of drinks more often.
ABV helps us with Heineken Alcohol-Free up to a point.
It tells us a few things. First, is Heineken Alcohol-Free Beer really “Free”, and how much alcohol is in it.
Alcohol labelling in the UK goes as follows, according to drinkaware.
Think of it as four different levels, as a step of stairs.
- Alcohol-free beer = no more than 0.05% ABV
- De-alcoholised beer = no greater than 0.5% ABV
- Low-alcohol beer = no greater than 1.2% ABV
- Alcoholic beer = consists of more than 1.2% ABV
So yes, technically, Heineken Alcohol-Free Beer is very much alcohol-free.
But it will have a” trace” of alcohol, and here is why.
Why does alcohol-free beer consist of some alcohol?
The answer is some beers do but not at all.
For example, a brand like Bavaria uses a technique where no alcohol is formed in the brewing process.
But some brands like Heineken Alcohol-free beer include a minimal trace of alcohol (approximately less than 0.05% per cent ABV).
The reality is that it took some time for me to get my head around the fact that alcohol forms naturally in many fermented products.
This happens in varying degrees like natural fruit, say ripe bananas, orange juice and some burger rolls.
Alcohol forms naturally around us but is nothing like you would get in a full-on alcohol-free beer.
Your body will hardly notice it.
However, if this could be an issue, I always get medical advice, but I know no one told me not to eat a banana when I was in the hospital.
Since some alcohol naturally forms as part of the beer-making process, this will require specific labelling.
But legally, it’s alcohol-free beer, even though Heineken has a hard time with this small fact.
So why the discrepancy with the trace of alcohol versus no trace?
Good question, and it’s all down to the alcohol-free beer-making process.
How is alcohol-free and low-alcoholic beer made?
This is key to the Heineken dilemma and why if we are going on an alcohol-free lifestyle, we may get freaked out.
There are two ways of going about making an alcohol-free beer.
So, for example, you either brew it and take the alcohol out or don’t have a process that creates alcohol in the beer in the first place.
My preference is to drink the second option, although Heineken Alcohol-Free Beer is a great fallback option, and I would be a bit hypocritical if I said no, given I drink orange juice and eat a banana.
We are talking about a trace amount, after all.
So let’s take a great beer like Free Star, which, if you like citrus, I certainly recommend as a “star” choice.
It is terrific!
Free Star makes their beer completely differently from Heineken Alcohol-Free.
Malted barley, hops, and water is the usual way of making beer.
But with Free Star, they bypass the yeast, so they blend their beer instead of brewing it.
There are lots of brands that do it this way, and to be honest; it does not affect the taste at all.
It is important to remember you are not getting an alcoholic beer here but an alcohol-free one.
Although with Heineken Alcohol-Free Beer, it does taste like the alcoholic brand, to be fair.
Just no alcohol.
There are two methods mainstream and non-mainstream beer makers use to minimise the alcohol content in their beer.
They can remove alcohol from the finished product or ensure that alcohol does not form during the brewing procedure.
The most common approach this brewery takes is to heat beer to remove its alcohol.
Alternatively, you can filter the beer to remove any alcohol.
Both approaches seem to work well.
So, in reality, if you just wanted to make a low alcohol beer, you would remove less of the alcohol.
If alcohol is removed, you might presume that would be a trace left over?
So will there always be a trace of alcohol?
Not so fast!
As technology advances, it seems it is now possible to remove all the alcohol.
Let’s look at that solid alcohol-fuelled brand Leffe. I mean, if you wanted a hangover headache, this is the way to go.
But they have created an alcohol-free beer where they say they take out all the alcohol.
I expect this will be more common as technology advances.
As a result, no residual alcohol remains in the beer after fermentation with Leffe 0.0%.
Inbev, who makes Leffe 0.0%, claimed it was the first non-alcoholic abbey ale or ‘iconic’ beer on the market.
There are not many alcohol-free craft beers out there, but I am sure they are right to claim about the “Abbey-style beer” because it comes from Belgium and is alcohol-free.
So it can be done, and they do exist.
This is excellent news, and even the cynics have given Leffe 0.0 a positive review.
I think there is a market in demand for no alcohol at all, even though the trace argument for most people is a bit of a sideshow!
Can you drink Heineken 0.0 while driving?
Here, I will default to the Heineken official website, which is challenging navigating, to be honest.
Now they are clear that they only market their alcohol-free product to people of drinking age.
Why is it that?
Well, the look of those alcohol-free green bottles might encourage people to drink underage?
I don’t think there’s a science to back this up, and many Hollywood celebrities have been reprimanded for giving their children an alcohol-free beer.
So it seems a moral issue more than anything else.
But on driving, Heineken says:
“Heineken 0.0 contains less than 0.05% alcohol, so as such, it is an alcohol-free beer.
This amount has no impact on the body and is fully fine because of driving and pregnancy or alc-intolerant medical treatment.”
So you should be more worried about flu and cold medicine that can contain double figures of alcohol as an abv, and I can’t go near for medical reasons.
Tip: Check the amount of alcohol in your cold remedy!
Is Heineken alcohol-free beer any good?
Before I get going on this, I am not an alcohol-free beer guru, there are plenty of those online, and they are excellent.
I say it as it is from someone who has had to go alcohol-free from a health perspective.
There are many of us out there.
And the number is increasing.
You cannot drink alcohol, but you want to be socially involved and enjoy a choice.
People who knock alcohol-free think we are all vodka drinkers from a park bench and are slightly misinformed, which is a made-up story.
I don’t judge the park bench either, to be precise.
There Is a lot of prejudice against alcohol-free drinkers, and I have found it to be so even more than drinking.
But with Heineken Alcohol-Free Beer, it might be your first insight into the alcohol-free drink world!
I mean, get on a flight in the UK that promotes alcohol-free flight, and they have (err) one choice.
Heineken Zero is a great alcohol-free choice, and the only downside apart from the 0.05% caveat is that it is slightly gassy for me.
My Headlines on Heineken Alcohol-Free Beer :
If you like Heineken, you will like this
- Malty and fruity
- Cereal undertones
- Clear, golden amber colour.
- Plenty of bubbles, if too many for me
- A true pale lager
- Not too bitter, which subsides you as you drink it.
My alcohol-drinking friends cannot tell much of a difference which is not always the case with alcohol-free beers.
And I’m not saying that is a good or bad thing.
If you go into a bar and it’s the only option, I am always thankful for Heineken Zero.
Does Heineken 0.0 get you drunk?
Well, let’s do the simple maths, but the answer is NO.
You would have to drink so much of it you would make yourself ill doing so
One unit is a half-pint of lager, so say a 4.4 per cent abv.
So even if a bottle of Heineken has an abv or less of 0.05%, that would be just 20 bottles of the green stuff to get to drink a beer with 0.1% abv.
So the maths don’t stack up.
Also, bear in mind that vinegar, according to the association that represents them, has an interesting fact.
Based on industry standards, the vinegar you put on your chips or fries usually contains 0.3% – 0.4% alcohol by volume, a minimal amount.
Due to a variety of reasons, this remnant of alcohol has been left.
First, the residual alcohol does enhance the vinegar flavour, and when omitted, makes your face screw up more than usual, as you would be talking about very sharp tasting vinegar.
But I have seen people look drunk on alcohol-free beer!
I have known people feel drunk on it when they don’t realise Heineken Zero is officially alcohol-free!
That is about the placebo effect and the power of the mind.
However, on a serious note, if you feel that drinking alcohol-free anything could trigger you to drink alcohol, don’t go near it and get support.
It is not worth it.
If it’s not the case for you and there is no judgment here, either way, then Heineken Zero is a great option.
Your View on Heineken Alcohol-Free Beer
So let us give full credit to Heineken for sticking their neck out and making alcohol-free beer part of our everyday fabric.
Please give it a go and not prejudge it. If it’s your only option, then I can think of worse brands, and at least they are obvious on the branding.
I like it. Just not my first choice.
Would you try or have you tried Heineken Alcohol-Free Beer? Leave your comment below.