The best 10 non-alcoholic beers to try in 2019
Whether you have given up alcohol for January, choosing to cut down, taking on the virtuous responsibility of being the evening’s designated driver or perhaps pregnant, there’s never been a better time to be teetotal.
While we don’t advocate forgoing the real deal for any longer than is necessary, and to drink in moderation in any case, the breadth and quality of non-alcoholic drinks now hitting the market is vast, offering more choice than ever to designated drivers.
Beer is further ahead in its quest to perfect a non-alcoholic alternative than wine and spirits are, with non-alcoholic and low-strength beers now “incredibly important” to UK pubs, according to the head of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), Bridgid Simmonds. Simmonds’ views coincide with a report published by the Brewers of Europe, which shows that non-alcoholic beer now counts for 2% of Europe’s beer production by value. Sales of European non alcoholic beer rose to reach nearly €900 million (£800 million) in 2017.
Meanwhile a number of small and large brewers are adding low alcohol versions of their flagship beers to their portfolios, including Greene King, AB InBev, Budweiser and Peroni, while craft breweries specialising in low and no alcohol brewers are starting to emerge.
Last year global brewer AB InBev announced the creation of a new chief of non-alcoholic beverages officer as a means of boosting its footprint in the non-alcohol sector. Such brands currently account for 10% of AB InBev’s total business, and includes Beck’s Blue and Budweiser Prohibition, with the brewer predicting that 20% of the world’s beer production volume will be non-alcoholic or low alcoholic by 2025.
With that in mind, we have rounded up some of the best, and most popular, non alcoholic beers on the market.
Click on for our pick of the best low- and no-alcohol brews. Or, for more analysis on the rise of low alcohol beers, click here.
Peroni Libera 0.0% – 0%
The latest non-alcoholic beer offer to hit the market, Peroni’s Libera 0.0% will be available at Tesco stores across the UK from this month.
The sinless brew is made with the same Nostrano dell’Isola maize unique to Peroni Nastro Azzurro, while a dedicated yeast strain helps to impart its citrusy aromas and hoppy characteristics. It then undergoes a “special decoction” process, allowing the liquid to retain its flavour while removing its alcohol content.
Simone Caporale, former bartender at the Artesian at The Langham in London, and Peroni Nastro Azzurro’s “Master of Mixology”, said: “We’ve seen a change in consumers drinking habits in the industry, with the rise of mindfulness and wellbeing people are more regularly considering low- and no-alcohol drinks alternatives and currently there isn’t a premium, great tasting beer out there for them to enjoy.”
They are available from this month at Tesco at £5 for 4x 330ml bottles.
Low Alcohol Old Speckled Hen – 0.5%
An intriguing addition to the non-alcoholic beer market, even more so for ale drinkers, is a Low Alcohol variant of Greene King’s popular Old Speckled Hen.
Launched late last year, the 0.5% Old Speckled Hen Low Alcohol is brewed with Pale and Crystal malts alongside Challenger, First Gold and Goldings hops, and “faithfully delivers flavour characteristics reminiscent of the 5.0% ABV bottled beer,” says the brewer.
Despite its limitations, it’s a solid alternative to the real thing, with malty, lightly toasted aroma on the nose and a light toffee character on the palate. A good step toward opening the door for more non-alcoholic mainstream ale alternatives.
RRP: £18 for 12x 500ml bottles, available in Greene King and free trade pubs, independent retailers and online at greenekingbrewery.co.uk.
Heineken 0.0 – 0%
First launched in 2017, Heineken 0.0 was a surprise winner of a Gold medal in last year’s drinks business Beer Master, proving its credentials when up against the mainstream. Heineken 0.0 is twice brewed and fermented with Heineken’s unique A-yeast before the alcohol is removed and the brew blended to achieve a surprisingly authentic fruity flavour with slight malty notes. For lager lovers, it’s a reliable winner.
Heineken 0.0% is already available in Australia and the UK, and this year will launch in the US, marking a significant milestone for the brand, launched in response to trends for health and wellness, particularly among Millennials. “By supplying a well-known high-end option to the non-alcoholic segment, Heineken 0.0 aims to propel category growth by capturing new consumption occasions and new consumers,” Heineken said.
RRP: £4 for 6x 330ml cans.
Nirvana beers – 0-0.3%
Nirvana lays claim to being the only brewery in the UK dedicated solely to the production of low and alcohol-free beers. Based in London, the team set out in 2017 to smash the assumption that non-alcoholic beers were dull, lacking in taste and variety. Today, it produces a range of low- and no-alcohol pale ales, lagers, stout and IPAs.
Its FitBeer (£1.89), a 0.3% Bavarian Helles lager, is aimed at the health market, carrying just 66 calories, but also a host of added health benefits too, rich in vitamin B12 and folic acid. Two of its 0% brews include Kosmic Stout (£2.29), offering chocolate notes and a hint of vanilla and malty Ovaltine quality, while its 0% Tantra Pale Ale (£2.29) is made with lightly roasted barley, creating a “caramel malt body that is balanced with a lingering crisp hop bitterness”.
All are available to buy at eebria.com, and are an interesting addition to an increasingly diverse non-alcoholic beer market, with the big brewers tending to prioritise lager and pilsner-style brews.
Estrella Damm Free – 0%
This is Barcelona-born Estrella’s non alcoholic offer, which is made to the same recipe as its 5.4% abv big brothers, but with the alcohol removed using a vacuum distillation process, which it claims helps to retain the flavours.
Now with a snazzy new label, this is a great option for lager lovers, with a clean, fresh taste and a decent nose, with a smattering of hops to give it some depth of flavour.
You can’t go wrong at £4 for 6x 330ml cans at Morrisons.
Beck’s Blue – 0%
Brewed by AB InBev, Beck’s Blue is one of the best known and most visible non-alcoholic brews on the market, and the one most likely to be available at pubs and bars in the UK, although quickly gaining competition.
There’s reason for its enduring presence. It’s far from terrible, and is actually quite good. It offers a refreshing bitterness, with any hint of sweetness reigned in, and a finish that isn’t entirely metallic. Drink cold and fast.
RRP: £3.50 for 6x 275ml bottles.
BrewDog Nanny State – 0.5%
From the brewery that brought us one of the most alcoholic beer in the world* comes Nanny State, a 0.5% beer that promises imbibers a hopped up brew with an authentic bitterness, catering to those partial to an IPA.
Available at Tesco, £1.29 for a 330ml bottle.
*Brewdog’s End of History is a 55% limited edition brew that came encased in a taxidermy squirrel or stoat. Only 11 bottles of this blond Belgian ale, named after a book by philosopher Francis Fukuyama, were produced. It was made using nettles from the Scottish Highlands and fresh juniper berries and was at the time BrewDog’s last high abv beer, and also one of the most expensive in the world at £500 a bottle.
Budweiser Prohibition Brew – 0%
In 2017 brewing giant AB InBev launched an alcohol free version of Budweiser in the UK. Called ‘Prohibition’, it was first brewed during the US Prohibition of the 1920s and ‘30s, and is reportedly brewed to the same recipe as Budweiser, simply without the alcohol. While not for beer purists, it offers a cheap and cheerful alternative that will appeal to Bud drinkers, but admittedly it’s a thin imitation of the real deal.
The announcement coincided with the companies eighth annual ‘Global Be(er) Responsible Day, which promotes smart drinking among the brewer’s staff and its consumers. AB InBev is also seeking to expand its low and alcohol-free range – which already includes Beck’s Blue and Bud Light – as well as to keep it on track to meet its stated goal of 20% of its volumes being low of alcohol-free by 2025.
Available at Tesco, £3 for 4x 330ml cans.
Marks & Spencer Low Alcohol Czech Lager – 0.5%
Marks & Spencer has taken greater strides toward offering a wide range of own-label non-alcoholic options than most supermarkets, which extends from wine and spirits to beer.
Its low alcohol Czech Lager is actually brewed by Prague brewer Staropramen, and uses Saaz hops from the Czech town of Zatec, and comes pretty close to recreating its original pilsner style taste-wise, albeit with a slightly more herbal, lemony note, after the alcohol has been removed. Well worth seeking out.
£30 for a case of 20x 500ml bottles, M&S.
Erdinger Weizen Alkoholfrei – 0.5%
The worst kept secret in non-alcoholic beer, Erdinger is an unassuming Bavarian brew that commands a great deal of respect among beer-loving teetotallers.
It’s not perfection, but it shoots pretty close to the net. It carries words such as ‘isotonic’ and ‘vitamin B12’ on the label which are slightly distracting to its primary purpose, but don’t let that put you off.
It has a distinctive, malty taste with a good depth of flavour and bitter finish, and makes for a great non-alcoholic alternative on a hot summer’s day. And it comes in 500ml bottles.
£1.30 for a 500ml bottle, Tesco (currently on offer at £1).