The 10 best non-alcoholic and low alcohol beers to try in 2020
With brewers big, small, near, and far now innovating with low-ABV and alcohol-free products, we’ve listed some of the best beers to try if you’re sober-curious this 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 in 2018. These kinds of 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.
And 2019 saw yet more brewers getting in on the act, from Carlsberg and Cobra revamping their own alcohol-free beer offerings, to smaller businesses like Cloudwater in Manchester toying with hop-flavoured soda water.
We’ve listed our pick of the best beers to try this month, from complex and interesting German imports, to alc-free alternatives to your go-to lager.
Click through to see the new no-and-low beers that will make moderation easy.
Carlsberg 0.0 Nordic (0%)
Carlsberg is the latest brewing behemoth to jump on the alcohol-free bandwagon.
Replacing the existing Carlsberg 0.0 beer which was first released in 2015, Carlsberg Nordic will be listed in over 170 Tesco stores across the UK starting this week, with wider roll out planned later in the year.
A spokesperson said it is likely to be phased out by mid-2020, with this newer style becoming the principal alc-free beer.
Like Heineken’s 0.0, this beer is brewed with the hops and malt used for its flagship beer, before the alcohol is removed. At 14 calories per 100ml, it is also one of the lightest on the market, so ideal if you’re cutting back to slim down.
How much: £3 for a pack of 4 330ml bottles, Ocado
Schneider Weisse alcohol-free weissbier (0.5%)
If you’re a die-hard beer nerd attempting your first-ever Dry January, this wheat beer is a good one to have on standby.
This offering from G. Schneider and Sohn in Bavaria is full-bodied, rich, and loaded with enough green banana, toffee and a hint of cloves to mask the absence of alcohol. First launched in 2002, the beer has
Bottle size: 500ml
How much: £1.79, from BeerHawk
Mikkeller Weird Weather IPA (0.3%)
A low-alcohol IPA might seem a bit of an oxymoron, what with the original IPAs requiring a 6% ABV to survive long journeys, but Mikkeller’s offering certainly sates your cravings for hops.
First released in 2017 and brewed in Belgium, this is a booze-free take on hazy, New England IPAs, which sits alongside its range of more five other low-alcohol beers. I have served this to friends who claimed they wouldn’t have known it has only 0.3% ABV. It’s not as juicy and smooth as some exaggerated NEIPAs, but Weird Weather does retain the hallmark tropical flavours without the alcohol, making it a decent and refreshing alternative for fans of the style.
How much: £15.75 for a case of 6, from DryDrinker
Mikkeller Drink in the Snow (0.3%)
When the low alcohol beer category started to grow, it was all about clean and crisp pale ales and lagers, but now, even fans of darker beer can get their fix.
Mikkeller’s Drink in the Snow ticks many of the boxes for dark ale fans, displaying fruity, red apple characters alongside caramel and a bitter note at the end.
How much: £2.20 per 330ml bottle, from Noblegreen
Big Drop Brewing Co, Stout (0.5%)
Big Drop Brewing Co, founded in 2016 by City lawyer-turned family man and brewer Rob Fink, is dedicated exclusively to making 0.5% ABV beer, and is one of the brands bringing a “craft” feel to the category. It also secured listings from of its 0.5% ABV pale ale, stout and lager in Tesco stores nationwide, meaning they shouldn’t be too hard to find.
This stout picked up a Gold Medal at the International Beer Challenge and a UK Silver Medal at the World Beer Awards when judged against full-strength stouts and porters. It also won a Gold medal at the US Open Beer Championship., comes with all the flavours you desire in a stout, with notes of coffee, cocoa nibs and a lingering hint of sweet vanilla.
How much: £1.49 per bottle, Holland and Barrett
Big Drop Brewing Co. World Collab Series (0.5%)
If you’re looking for something a bit more “craft”, then we recommend checking out the latest release from Big Drop and a gang of other UK breweries.
Big Drop teamed up with beer writer Melissa Cole and four UK brewers towards the end of 2019 to produce a limited edition range of 0.5% ABV collaboration brews.
The collaboration saw Fyne Ales from Argyll, SALT from West Yorkshire, Harbour Brewing Co. from Cornwall and Fourpure from London work with Big Drop, developing four fairly innovative styles for the category without use of artificial extraction of alcohol, vacuum distillation or reverse osmosis.
The range includes a Raspberry Gose (Fyne Ales), Black IPA (Fourpure) (Hibiscus Saison (Going Swimmingly) and India Pale Lager (SALT), so there’s something to suit all refined palates.
Some packs are still available, but it is a limited edition run.
How much: £12 for 4 x 440ml cans, or £34.80 for a case of 12 from DryDrinker.
Erdinger Alcoholfrei (0.5%)
The worst kept secret in non-alcoholic beer is, of course, Erdinger. It 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. Erdringer made the most of its healthy credentials during the Sochi Winter Olympics, thousands of non-alc beers to the German team to help fuel them during the games.
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.
How much: £1.30 for a 500ml bottle, Tesco
Brewdog Punk AF (0.5%)
Brewdog helped to shake up the alcohol-free offering in the UK last May by launching a 0.5% ABV alternative to its flagship Punk IPA, the beer that made the brewer famous.
This low alcohol beer is made with Ahtanum, Cascade, Chinook, Citra, Hüll Melon, Mosaic, Nelson Sauvin, Simcoe hops, and promises “all the attitude, all the flavour but none of the alcohol.”
Punk AF is definitely unique in the sense that it is one of few widely available low ABV beers that packs a bit of a punch, with juicy tropical fruit and pine both coming through, backed up by a pleasing malt base.
How much: £4 for 4 330ml cans, Morrisons.
Cobra Zero (0%)
Molson Coors has also changed the recipe for one of its long-standing alc-free beers, Cobra Zero, as well as giving the labels a makeover as part of a rebranding of the whole Cobra portfolio. Brewed in the Netherlands, Cobra Zero is created using the finest barley, malt and hops with reduced carbonation before being de-alcoholised down to 0% ABV, resulting in a beer that has a very light malt flavour and with sweet and citrus flavours.
Ed Hughes, Beer Sommelier at Molson Coors, said the new Cobra Zero liquid is “perfectly balanced; a beautiful light golden colour, honeysuckle sweetness with a hint of citrus and a hop aroma. The taste is balanced and elegant, the initial malt sweetness followed by a delicate hop bitterness.”
We’ll let you be the judge of that. Try subbing this in for your usual lager with a curry.
How much: £3.00 (4x330ml) from Ocado
Heineken 0.0 (0%)
First launched in 2017, Heineken 0.0 was a surprise winner of a Gold medal in our Beer Masters competition in 2018, and it’s still one of the most popular non-alcoholic lagers going.
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 consistent and reliable.
Heineken 0.0% launched in the US last year, marking a significant milestone for the brand.
How much: £4 for 6x 330ml cans.