Yes, non-alcoholic beer contains alcohol or it may legally contain traces of it.
Alcohol is a diuretic. It causes your body to drain fluids from your blood much faster than other liquids through your renal system, which comprises the kidneys, ureters, and bladder.
With the rise of heavier, hopper craft beers in recent years, some brewers market low-alcohol beer as low-point beer, or anything below about 4% alcohol by volume (ABV).
If you believe the NA beer you hold in your hand or drink is a true zero-alcohol beer or truly alcohol-free, first of all, you are mistaken, or you do not understand the full story behind all of this “alcohol-free.”
So, what can you do to ensure that the NA beer you drink contains alcohol or not? Let’s look at the science, your non-alcoholic beer options, and why the NA beer you drink contains alcohol in the first place.
What You Will Learn?
Let’s get started right now.
What is non-alcoholic beer?
Non-alcoholic beer is a beer that contains very little to no alcohol.
It tastes similar/identical to regular beer but contains significantly less alcohol, many NA beers are even advertised as having 0.0% alcohol (1).
By Law, non-alcoholic beers sold in the United States can contain up to 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV), but many brands claim to offer 0.0% ABV.
The non-alcoholic beers, once associated with blandness and wateriness, have seen a significant increase in quality and market share as a result of new and inventive entrepreneurs.
Furthermore, non-alcoholic beer contains sugar to enhance the flavor, and the varieties are now limitless.
Nowadays non-alcoholic beer companies like Athletic Brewing give us a variety of options including hazy, IPAs, lagers, golden ale, light, sour, and even seasonal flavors like Oktoberfest.
Does non-alcoholic beer have alcohol?
Yes, most of the non-alcoholic beer brands have some amount of alcohol present in them. However, you will not get intoxicated by the ABV of non-alcoholic beer. Also, it is not possible to get intoxicated with non-alcoholic beer.
But, how much alcohol is in Non-alcoholic beer? Legally, brands need to maintain their alcohol by volume, ABV, less than 0.5% to get certified for non-alcoholic beers.
Is this amount of alcohol safe? Yes, it is safe because such alcohol content is present in foods that you eat sometimes. It mainly happens due to the fermentation process.
The amount of alcohol in non-alcoholic beers is nearly the same as the amount of alcohol present in very ripe fruits (like bananas), yogurt, kombucha, apples, and fruit juices of grapes and oranges.
It gives you a rough idea of how much alcohol is there in non-alcoholic beverages.
A normal beer has somewhere around 5% ABV while for an IPA it’s around 6-7%.
Some non-alcoholic beer brands mention specifically that the beer contains the following amount of alcohol 0.3%. While brands like Athletic Brewing Company simply state that the beer contains less than 0.5% alcohol.
How is non-alcoholic beer made?
While there are numerous methods for producing it, the majority of non-alcoholic beer is produced by removing the alcohol from regular beer (2,3,4). Different brewers utilize various techniques of fermentation to extract alcohol at the end.
Most non-alcoholic beers are brewed in the same way that conventional beer is. Brewers start with the same basic ingredients and fermentation techniques used in traditional beer production: water, yeast, hops, and grain.
The most common type of fermentation used is fermentation. To get a lower percent ABV, you must eventually cease the fermentation process. There may still be residues of alcohol present.
One method involves heating the beer, but this can significantly alter the flavor. Sometimes beer is heated inside a powerful vacuum that lowers the boiling point to preserve the taste, by the way, this process uses de-alcoholization methods.
Another method involves straining the alcohol through a filter so fine that only water and alcohol pass through. The liquid is then added back to the remaining ingredients.
Once the alcohol is removed, the beer is flat. Carbon dioxide must be added to carbonate it much like what happens or is involved in the process of most soda.
These are some of the most common & popular ways by which most brewers adopt to use in making their non-alcoholic beer.
The difference between alcoholic beer and non-alcoholic beer
The key difference between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beer is their alcohol content. While regular beer or alcoholic beers typically contain 5% alcohol in them, non-alcoholic beers are brewed specially to have 0.5% or lower ABV.
Alcoholic beers and non-alcoholic beers are also prepared differently. Most alcoholic beers are prepared by fermentation of malted grains with the help of yeast.
Non-alcoholic beers on the other hand are brewed in limit to prevent much alcohol as a byproduct. There might be various processes involved to achieve the extremely low level of alcohol in non-alcoholic beers.
It can be done by heating the beer to get rid of the alcohol, stopping the fermentation early, and using strains of yeast that produce less alcohol.
Since the fermentation of alcoholic beers takes a long time, you can have a stronger and wider variety of flavors. With non-alcoholic beer, you may have a milder flavor due lesser fermentation period and insignificant amount of alcohol in it.
Is non-alcoholic beer better than alcoholic beer?
Though which among the two, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beer, is best for you depends on your personal preference, you may consider some factors to decide which is right for you.
Here are some factors to note while choosing the right beer for your needs.
1. Amount of alcohol:
Alcohol beer has approx. 5% alcohol by volume while non-alcoholic beer has 0.5% or less alcohol by volume. Considering the fact if you are trying to avoid alcohol, non-alcoholic beer is better than alcoholic beer.
2. Flavor and taste:
Since alcoholic beer is fermented, it has a wide range of flavors due to its fermentation process. While non-alcoholic beers have milder flavor due to limited brewing and fermentation. So, for taste alcoholic beer is better than non-alcoholic beers.
3. Health Consideration:
Which is more healthy, alcoholic beer or non-alcoholic? Even though alcoholic beer is safe for consumption in moderation, non-alcoholic beer is always better due to its extremely low alcohol content. High amounts of alcoholic beer may cause drowsiness, blackouts, low blood sugar, and vomiting.
Besides the above factors, sometimes social situations can be a decisive factor in which beer you choose. Alcoholic beers might be more suitable for social settings such as gatherings, parties, or weekend chillouts.
Can kids have non-alcoholic beers?
Kids must not be exposed to non-alcoholic beers because most of the non-alcoholic beer brands have trace amounts of alcohol, less than 0.05%, in them.
Early exposure to non-alcoholic beers can affect kids psychologically, make them addicted to hops, and increase the chances of alcohol consumption in the future.
With some brands, even though they mention their alcohol content as less than 0.5%, it may contain 1-2% alcohol. Thus, letting kids drink beer is strictly a bad step.
As a parent or caretaker of the kid, it is a good practice to keep your kid away from any type of beer before they turn 18 yrs of age and can decide for themselves.
Do non-alcoholic beers have any side effects?
You may wonder whether the non-alcoholic beer you’re drinking is right for you or not.
Drinking too many non-alcoholic beers can put you in danger of alcohol intoxication because most of them contain some alcohol. That said, it would be nearly impossible to drink enough to become heavily intoxicated.
In rare cases, non-alcoholic beer consumption might cause persons with alcohol-related liver impairment to have markedly higher blood alcohol levels.
Plus, non-alcoholic beer is generally not recommended for recovering alcoholics or anyone with a history of alcohol abuse.
Here is a video where Integris Health, a not-for-profit and Oklahoma-owned healthcare system reviews whether non-alcoholic beer is better for you or not.
Even if it is alcohol-free, the sheer smell or flavor of beer might lead to cravings and possibly even a relapse. Simply said, if you have a problem with alcohol, you should avoid taking a chance.
You can choose healthy alternatives such as your favorite fruit juices which we discuss above that bear no relation to alcohol.
Does non-alcoholic beer have alcohol? The answer is yes, most of the non-alcoholic beers do have alcohol.
How much alcohol is in non-alcoholic beers? Non-alcoholic beer contains less than 0.5% alcohol as per the requirement of federal law.
While some brands mention specifically the amount of alcohol in them such as 0.3% or 0.4% ABV, other popular brands simply mention less than 0.5% ABV on the label.
Is the alcohol content of non-alcoholic beer concerning? It is not since the amount of beer in non-alcoholic beer is similar to what an over-ripe fruit, kombucha, or yogurt would contain.
Research published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology, it’s been shown that ripe bananas contain around 0.4% ABV, and an “American-style burger roll” has 1.28% ABV. This is more than twice the amount of non-alcoholic beer.
Can non-alcoholic beer get you intoxicated? It is nearly impossible to get intoxicated with non-alcoholic beer. A person gets intoxicated while his/her BAC (blood alcohol content) reaches 0.04%.
A 2012 research showed people who consumed 50 ounces of 0.4% ABV non-alcoholic beer, the maximum BAC reached was only 0.0056%, far lower than the BAC at which people feel the effects of alcohol.
About the Author
Purushottam is the founder and content writer at Health On Planet, a place where regular health enthusiasts visit to get honest reviews about the supplement. He has been reviewing popular dietary supplements with his years of expertise in the wellness industry. You can always trust his expertise on supplements to help you make informed choices.