The following post was written by Heinen’s beer expert, Ed Thompkins.
Looking back only a few short years, the term “non-alcoholic beer” would have likely conjured distasteful thoughts of a thin, marginally flavored liquid that was certainly non-alcoholic but most certainly not “beer!” Take a look at the literal revolution of craft beer and you’ll notice equally large growth in non-alcoholic (NA for short) options as well. These beers are defined by more than their lack of alcohol because they are also delicious, but that is just one of the many reasons why NA beers have never been more popular.
First things first, let’s define what non-alcoholic means, and how NA beers are made. There are two dominant styles of NA beers – 0.0%, which contains zero alcohol whatsoever, and 0.05% beers. The majority of non-alcohol beers measure at 0.05%, which is the industry standard for NA beers. So, 0.0% are completely free of any semblance of alcohol, while the 0.05% beer may contain minute amounts.
As for the brewing process, NA beers begin their life as regular beers and are processed by various methods to remove the alcohol. How the alcohol is removed varies by brewery, but the most common methods are heat treatments, cold stabilization and vacuum removal technology. In all processes, after the alcohol is removed, carbon dioxide is added to produce the bubbles and foam that beer lovers enjoy.
The delights of enjoying a cold, crisp, refreshing beer are nearly unmatched, and with the advent and improvement of non-alcoholic options, there’s never a bad time to pop one open! After much “exhaustive research,” here are some of our current favorite non-alcoholic beers that you can find in our stores.
Athletic Brewing Co. – Free Wave Hazy IPA (0.05%)
Upon first taste, you may exclaim, “Is this really an NA beer?” You betcha! It’s non-alcoholic and it’s one of America’s most awarded, too. Amarillo, Citra and Mosaic hops lead the way in creating a brew that’s tropical, resiny and frankly, an IPA lover’s NA dream! 0.05%
Brooklyn Brewing – Special Effects Hoppy Amber (0.05%)
As long-time fans of this iconic brewery’s lager, we were overjoyed to try an NA beer that tastes incredibly close to the real deal Brooklyn Lager. With pronounced malty and aromatic hops, this selection sort of smells like brew day at the brewery!
BrewDog – Elvis AF (0.05%)
Like BrewDog’s popular Elvis Juice IPA, this version delivers delicious grapefruit and pine notes that finish dry and crisp. There’s an intriguing hit of hoppy goodness that invites another sip as well. To say that this one is an incredible refresher would be a drastic understatement.
Two Roots Brewing Co. – “Enough Said” Helles (0.05%)
This beer proves that the NA beer movement is not only picking up steam, but here to stay. Witness this wonderfully complex creation that is not just a great NA option, but as good as any beer gets. It is one of the few beers ever to win the coveted Gold Medal at the Great American Beer Festival (the most prestigious beer competition in America) in 2019 and 2021! The secret is that it is a traditional German Helles-style beer brewed with classic Hallertau hops that just happens to be an NA!
This alcohol-free beer tastes exactly like regular Heineken! The reason for that is simple, because it is brewed exactly like regular Heineken, with the brewery’s unique A-yeast. This means that this version captures the classic Heineken profile of fruity notes, a soft malty body and a refreshing finish.
Guinness has created a non-alcoholic version of its beloved stout that is just as iconic. With over 261 years of brewing experience under their belt, it’s not difficult to believe that the folks over in Ireland would be able to deliver the same beautifully smooth taste and unique dark color in NA form!