What is non-alcoholic beer?
Non-alcoholic beer isn’t that different from regular beer. Both start out in the exact same way: malt, hops, yeast, and water brewed together to create our favourite beverage. But for the alcohol-free variants, there are some extra steps to ensure that there is very little to no alcohol present in the final drink.
Because they start out the same way, a very small amount of alcohol can usually still be found in non-alcoholic beer. A common way to “de-alcohol” a beer is by boiling it until the alcohol evaporates. Another way is to make sure that alcohol doesn’t actually form during the brewing process.
A beer can still be labelled as non-alcoholic if it contains 0.05 percent ABV (alcohol by volume). If it has more than that but still less than 0.5 percent ABV, it can be labelled as a de-alcoholised beer. Beers between .5 percent and 1.2 percent ABV are classified as low-alcohol beer, while beer above 1.2 percent ABV is already considered alcoholic.
Is alcohol-free beer healthier than regular beer?
Alcohol by itself is 43 calories per unit, so just by removing the alcohol, you already have a healthier, low-calorie beer. If you’re looking to cut down on your caloric intake for weight loss or any other reason, replacing your usual beer with low alcohol drinks will definitely help.
But be mindful of the sugar content! All regular beers are actually low sugar alcohols since the sugar turns into alcohol during the brewing process, but non-alcoholic beers might not go through this step so they will be more sugary than your run of the mill beer.
Because of its near to none alcohol content, non-alcoholic beer won’t dehydrate you. In fact, it will actually rehydrate you! A study has actually shown that alcohol-free beer is isotonic, implying that it can actually make a great sports drink! But don’t go replacing your actual sports drinks though: beer is low in sodium, which is an important component of sports drinks!
Can alcohol-free beer be bad for you?
Moderation is still key. Even though non-alcoholic beer has plenty of benefits, it shouldn’t become the one and only thing you drink!
Non-alcoholic beer can be bad for people who have or have had alcohol dependency issues. Even though the alcohol in the beer is negligible, non-alcoholic beer tastes close enough to the real thing that it might trigger a relapse.
The best non-alcoholic beers in Australia
Non-alcoholic beers once had the unfortunate reputation for being rather nasty and tasting nothing like the real thing, but times have changed! Brewers have been perfecting their brews, and many of them are shining a spotlight on these non-boozy alternatives that taste just like the original – or even better!
With its signature green bottle and red star, Heineken is one of the most recognisable beers in the world. Heineken Zero (or 0.0) is its take on the non-alcoholic beer. With a blue label indicating the lack of alcohol, it’s still pretty much the Heineken you know and love – without the boozy buzz.
Heineken Zero is a lager with the fruity notes and soft maltiness of the classic Heineken. It did a great job capturing the original taste. It’s also a great low calorie and low carb alcohol for those looking to cut back!
Heineken Zero is available in Woolsworths for $AUD41 for a case of 24 bottles. A single bottle costs $AUD3.11.
The popular Aussie brand Carlton Draught has come up with a non-alcoholic iteration of its brews. Interestingly, it’s marketed not as an alternative to beer, but as an alternative to soft drinks! Carlton Zero has ten times less sugar than the regular soda, making it a smarter choice for those cutting down on the sweet stuff.
Carlton Zero has successfully captured the Carlton taste, which is fruity and a bit hoppy. With zero alcohol, it’s perfect for those times that you crave a beer but not alcohol – anytime from work lunches to nights when you’re the designated driver.
While other Carlton brews are easily available at Aldi and other local stores, Carlton Zero is a bit more elusive. Dan Murphy’s does carry it though, for $AUD39.95 for a case of 24 bottles and $AUD3.09 per bottle. A “near me” search can be done on the store’s website by setting your postcode or suburb!
A homegrown craft brewery that aims to promote cultural awareness, Sobah is all about “breaking down the stigma of socialising sober”. Founder Clinton Schultz had quit drinking and was enjoying the health benefits of an alcohol-free lifestyle, but he sorely missed the taste of beer. His solution? Make his own.
Sobah makes use of indigenous ingredients to flavour their beer. They’ve come up with a beer that tastes pretty much like the real thing, peppered with citrus notes that many find refreshing. Their pepperberry flavour includes a spicy kick, and also has the lowest carb and calorie content among all their variants.
A four-pack of any variant costs $AUD18. Subscriptions, which get cheaper the more you get, are available on their website. There are plenty of Sobah stockists all around Australia if you prefer to buy offline.
- Coopers Ultra Light Birell
- Holsten 0.0
- Erdinger Weissbrau Alkoholfrei
- Hollandia Non-Alcoholic 0.0% Beer
- Becks Blue Non-Alcoholic
- Asahi Dry Zero
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