Non alcoholic beer is on trend and for good reason: it actually tastes good! Here’s how to pick the best non alcoholic beer.
A new type beer of beer is spreading like wildfire, and here’s thing: you can sip it after a workout or enjoy it while pregnant. It’s non alcoholic beer! Alcohol free beer of the past tasted flat and watery. But new technology has enabled a way to make non alcoholic beer that actually tastes good. (Yes, it’s not just O’Doul’s anymore!)
Here at A Couple Cooks, we’re created hundreds of cocktail recipes and love appreciating great alcohol. However, we’ve found ourselves moving toward non alcoholic beer for our everyday drinking! Alex loves to sip on one in the evening with a book. And while I’m pregnant, there’s nothing better than being able to grab a “beer” at my local bar with a friend.
The market has exploded with brands and types: but which is the best non alcoholic beer? Here’s a little background on the product and our favorite brands and types.
What is non alcoholic beer?
US federal law defines a non alcoholic beer as a beer with less than 0.5% alcohol by volume. This type of beer attempts to approximate the flavor of standard beer without the inebriating effects of alcohol. This makes it ideal for enjoying responsibly, such as before driving, after a workout, or while pregnant.
Keep in mind: because beers labeled “non-alcoholic” contain a very small amount of alcohol, some US states require you to be of legal drinking age to purchase it.
Non alcoholic beer also has less calories than alcoholic beer, making it a relatively healthy drink option. The calories in a non alcoholic beer range from 50 to 100 calories per drink, whereas a standard beer can range from 150 to 200 calories.
What does it taste like?
Complaints about non alcoholic beer in the past has been that the flavor is flat and diluted. But new technologies have emerged that allow brewers to create robust flavors without alcohol. One is called controlled fermentation, which allows the brewer to produce beer without alcohol instead of removing the alcohol after brewing, which is detrimental to the flavor. For more on beer technology, see this NPR Article, “Non-Alcoholic Beers Are Finally Good” or listen to the podcast What’s Your Problem? “Beer Without the Buzz.“
So what does it taste like? Many non alcoholic beers on the market taste full-flavored and satisfying, though everything varies based on brand. In general, the beverage looks like a beer with the foam and color, and tastes like a beer with hops and malt flavors. The only thing missing is the effervescence that comes from alcohol.
With some brands, you might at first mistake it for a real beer on first taste. A few sips in you’ll likely find it’s not exactly the same as an alcoholic beer, but the overall experience makes it absolutely worth drinking.
What is the best non alcoholic beer?
Now for the big question: what’s the best non alcoholic beer? One general recommendation: avoid non-alcoholic versions from your favorite standard breweries and instead look for beers from companies that specialize in non-alcoholic brewing. The brands and types available at your liquor store may vary. After taste testing the choices available at our local liquor store, we recommend the following brands and beers:
- Athletic Brewing Co. Run Wild IPA or Free Wave Hazy IPA. Great IPAs that are complex and hop-forward, with a juicy, subtly floral character. Both have won several awards and the brand has a fan following. You can browse more types at Athletic Brewing Co.
- Clausthaler Dry Hopped. This German brand is a favorite of ours: you’d almost mistake it for the real thing! The flavor is crisp and fresh, with a refreshing dose of hops. The Original flavor is great too. Browse more types at Clausthaler.
- Sam Adams Just the Haze. This hazy, hoppy IPA has a citrusy, classic flavor; you could definitely mistake it for the alcoholic version.
A few brands to avoid? We’d suggest side-stepping Two Roots Brewing or Lagunitas; the flavor can’t compete with the brands above.
Last updated Sept 20, 2022
What do you think is the best?
We want to hear from you! Let us know what you think is the best non alcoholic beer in the comments below. We’ll continually update this list as the market grows and changes.
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I agree with your assessment of non-alcoholic beer. It has been my go to for about 2 years now and I find it thoroughly enjoyable! If you can get it in your area I would suggest giving Sam Adams Just The Haze a try. It is one of my favorites!
I haven’t been able to find the Sam Adams yet but we’re on the lookout!
We get Just the Haze at Total Wine in Nora. They always had the best/largest NA selection. Just the Haze was one of my favorites last when when I was pregnant.
Thanks for the tip!
Heineken 0 is, by far the best NA I have tasted.
Great article. I quit drinking 6 weeks ago but still enjoy non alcoholic beer occasionally. Heineken zero is the best but I will try the 3 you suggested. Thanks
My favorite non-alcoholic beer is Krombacher Weizen.
I’ll keep an eye out for it!
Absolutely love this post! I stopped drinking alcohol four months ago and have had fun exploring the NA beer options available. The Athletic IPA is a huge fave! I also love Harmon’s which is a Toronto brand (local to me). I’ll give your other recos a try. Thanks again for this.
interesting, haven’t had a non-alcoholic beer in a long time, yes I think it was O’Doull’s, so I have no idea which ones actually taste good, these will help! nice during the middle of the weekday, thank you
I drink a lot of fake beer. Here are my top 5:
5. Wellbeing – Heavenly Body Golden Wheat
4. Bravus – Peanut Butter Stout
3. Athletic – Upside Dawn Golden
2. Wellbeing – Hellraiser Dark Amber
1. Athletic – Run Wild IPA
Thanks! We need to try some more of the Wellbeing beers.
Finding a dark NA that captures the flavor profiles of the real thing is still a challenge. Bravus is okay; most others taste like wert. Black Butte NA is by far the best NA Porter I’ve tried.
I’ll have to try them!
Athletic Brewing’s First Ride is pretty good. It’s not always in stock though, so you have to watch for it.
Those are my top three also.And I like the Heineken.I started drinking
alcohol free beer in the 1980’s when the only good ones were from
Germany and Switzerland.I like to mix Buckler with lemonade.
Or make a half and half with Kaliber and Guinness.
Partake ipa amazing
Great article! I’ll look out for some of the na beers you mention. One I’d encourage you to try is Guinness 0 (zero). Guinness stout was always my favorite beer and this new variety comes very close to being the same beverage just without alcohol.