It is the lunch break, and you fancy a beer but need to stay focused for the rest of the day. Need to drive but still want to enjoy a beer with friends? Or maybe you are just thirsty but do not want to get tipsy. Then alcohol-free beer is the best option.
Non-alcoholic beers have not been popular on the market, and some of you might still think choosing a soft drink is better than non-alcoholic beer. The good news is that the times have changed, and breweries have created some pretty delicious non-alcoholic beers.
Low alcohol level beers date back to the mediaeval times in Europe. Water was often polluted, thus, beer was served instead as a safe alternative. In the late nineteenth century, there was a growing concern for alcoholism, which led to popularising the low alcohol or non-alcoholic beers. Nowadays, it is often enjoyed by people who like the taste of beer but cannot drink due to driving, medicine use or other reasons.
What is an alcohol-free beer?
Non-alcoholic beers contain very little alcohol. What is considered a non-alcoholic beer differs by country. For instance, in France, alcohol-free beer must have an alcohol level of 1.2% or less. In Belgium, beers with alcohol levels up to 0.5% can be sold under the label alcohol-free beer. But be aware when purchasing beers advertised with a 0.0% alcohol level. If it is a beer, then this means that fermentation has taken place, and there still must be a slight level of alcohol. During the fermentation, the sugars transform into alcohol. It is especially important to know for pregnant women who should still choose a soda instead of alcohol-free beer.
How is alcohol-free beer made?
To make an alcohol free beer, different processes are used to reduce the alcohol level, like rapid fermentation, bottom fermentation, osmosis, vacuum distillation or evaporation. The rapid fermentation process means that the fermenting time has been shortened so that the sugars would not transform into alcohol. The bottom fermentation means brewing at a low temperature to extract little sugar from the malts. The osmosis method allows the alcohol molecules to stay on a membrane and pass everything else through. The vacuum method heats the beer for several hours at 35 degrees to lower the alcohol content. And finally, some brewers use the evaporation method. Similarly to vacuum distillation, the alcohol is heated at 80 degrees for around 30 minutes to up to an hour.
Some of the best alcohol-free beers
Here are a few of our favourite alcohol-free beers to try out.
Pico Bello is brewed by Brussels Beer Project brewery, and it is a fruity and spicy acidic beer. It has no bitter tastes and is a nice alternative to aromatic IPAs.
Another beer by Brussels Beer Project. The Pico Nova is an IPA style alcohol-free beer that is less aromatic compared to Pico Bello.
A delicious alcohol-free IPA brewed by brewery DrinkDrink. It is a nice smooth beer with only 0.4% alcohol.