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The 10 Best Non-Alcoholic Beers, Because We Live In The Future

POSTED ON Feb 21, 2022
The 10 Best Non-Alcoholic Beers, Because We Live In The Future

Alcohol is a double-edged sword; while it’s a super fun way to relax and socialise, it’s high in kilojoules, it stops our bodies from burning fat, and of course, it can negatively affect the choices we make (like buying that double-edged sword that you just didn’t need).

So if you enjoy the taste and the social aspects of beer – but you’re not too fond of hangovers, bloatedness, or being a bit of a messy binch – rest assured, you’re not alone: sobriety is on the rise. Despite (or perhaps because of) the turbulent times we’re living in, more and more people are opting for sober lifestyles in the interest of health and wellness.

And thankfully, gone are the days when a designated driver had to settle for a tepid glass of boring. We live in the future now. Not only does non-alcoholic beer exist, but it exists in a wide range of tantalising choices. Whether you’re in for a short term detox or a long term lifestyle change, here, for your consideration, are the 10 best non-alcoholic beers…

Our Top 10 Non-Alcoholic Beer Picks

Aboriginal owned and led

SOBAH

ABV: <0.5%

Calories per ml: 28

Where it’s brewed: Gold Coast, QLD

What’s good?
Diverse range of flavours
Aboriginal owned and led
Chemical-free, preservative-free, no additional processes in removing the alcohol

As far as non-alcoholic bevs go right now, SOBAHl is the cream of the crop (or the top of the froth, if you will). SOBAH beers are crisp, fresh and tasty; infused with native Aussie fruit and spices, their primary range chiefly inspired by the flavours of traditional Czech and Mexican beers. SOBAH started out as a home business with an ambition to provide better beer choices “for those who are not drinking for whatever reason at whatever time.” The creators brewed their first batch off the back of a successful Pozible campaign, and the brand has been insanely popular ever since. The name itself is a fun play on words; ‘Bah’ as a suffix in Yugambeh language signifies a place, and “SOBAH” is, of course, an extremely Australian pronunciation of the word sober. Hence; a sober place that’s Aussie AF.

HEAPS NORMAL

ABV: 0.5%

Calories per ml: 22

Where it’s brewed: Canberra, ACT

What’s good?
Full flavoured
No additives or preservatives
Instead of filtering or boiling off the alcohol, the beer is fermented with a specific yeast that consumes fewer sugars

Founded by four mates who wanted some non-alcoholic options that were more inspiring than “sugary soft drinks, tea, coffee or water” Heaps Normal beer is so named for its crisp and heady flavour. The brand’s mission is to normalise mindful drinking without being preachy, which is an energy that connected with a lot of people during the lockdowns. Truly, this is a non-alcoholic beer that’s made by and for beer-lovers.

Plant Based

NORT

ABV: <0.5%

Calories per ml: 15

Where it’s brewed: Inner North Brewing Company, VIC

What’s good?
Plant Based
Lower calories than most other beers
100% Australian owned & brewed

Yet another Aussie beer brand that’s flying off the shelves at the moment. If you’re a partial to the Modus Operandi brand of beers, you’ll almost certainly enjoy Nort, as it’s made and owned by the same brewery. With golden hues and crisp, bitter notes, it’s got a taste that’s perfect for summery days at the pub with your mates.

GREAT NORTHERN ZERO

ABV: 0.0%

Calories per ml: 31

Where it’s brewed: Greath Northern Brewing Co, QLD

What’s good?
Sweet & fruity
Crisp & clean
Zero alcohol content

Great Northern Zero is your classic BBQ or beach beer; a nice crisp taste and a golden glaze, best served ice cold on the summer days. Vibes (and rhymes) aside, it’s also worth noting that this beer – unlike the preceding beers on our list – is 0.0% alcohol.

The term “non-alcoholic beer” can be a little misleading, given that the majority of non-alcoholic beers technically contain alcohol, albeit a very tiny percent that you likely won’t notice. The fermentation of alcohol is simply a part of the beer brewing process, and the alcohol is subsequently removed (or extremely minimised) for the non-alcohol labels. Some people like this level of alcohol to the same amounts found in week-old orange juice or ripe bananas; your body should be able to process it before it can ever get you drunk. That said, there are, obviously, many reasons why some people would like to be absolute in the avoidance of alcohol, and for those people, Great Northern Zero is a terrific choice. As is…

BITBURGER DRIVE 0.0

ABV: 0.0%

Calories per ml: 22

Where it’s brewed: Germany

What’s good?
Malty taste
Notes of gingerbread aromas
Completely alcohol free

Bitburger is one of Germany’s highest selling beers, and it’s not hard to see why. The company still brews their beer in accordance with the German Purity Law ( or das Reinheitsgebot), the world’s oldest food & drink regulation. So what’s the German Purity Law; some kooky mandate that prohibits witches and unwedded couples from making beer? Not quite, but close. Dating back to the heady days of 1516, the German Purity Law is a series of regulations that limits the ingredients that brewers can put into the beer; to achieve their high standard of brewing, the law dictates that German beer must be made from water, barley malt, hops, and nothing else. They softened on letting yeast in sometime during the 19th century, but that’s about it – and while the German Purity Law is no longer enforceable by actual law, Bitbuger acts as though it was, resulting in some damn good beer

BIG DROP BREWING CO

ABV: 0.5%

Calories per ml: 18

Where it’s brewed: Big Drop Brewing Co, U.K

What’s good?
Full flavoured
Brewed using barley, rhye, wheat and oat
A Pale Ale with a delightfully fruity aftertaste

Big Drop Brewing Co. produces a West Coast American Pale Ale that’s so on brand, you’d never expect it was brewed in Suffolk, England. With a lingering bitterness complemented by smacks of citrus and blueberry, the award winning taste is achieved via techniques that allow the brewers to create alcohol-free craft beer without having to remove the alcohol artificially. If you take your beer seriously, be assured, so do Big Drop Brewing Co.

JAMES SQUIRE ZERO

ABV: 0.5%

Calories per ml: 20

Where it’s brewed: Malt Shovel Brewery, NSW

What’s good?
Full flavoured
Malt & hop notes
Crisp finish

James Squire Zero captures that classic refreshing taste that’s now associated with the rest of their range. The James Squire brand has been with us for close to 25 years now (!), and they have resolutely established themselves as mainstream purveyors of full flavoured beer. Though a beer connoisseur could argue that a craft beer and a mainstream beer are two very different things, James Squire seems to have found a comfortable niche between the two worlds. If your local bottle shop is lacking a wider range of artisan non-alc beer, there’s a good chance they’ll still have some James Squire Zero… and as far as non-alc beers go, it’s a mighty fine drop.

HEINEKEN 0.0

ABV: 0.0%

Calories per ml: 21

Where it’s brewed: Originally Amsterdam, but probably Sydney NSW if you’re drinking it in Australia

What’s good?
Malty flavour
Fruity notes
Completely alcohol free

A populist option, sure, but who doesn’t love a Heiney? Another quintessentially American beer that is technically not an American beer, Heineken is a pure malt lager that is best known for its smooth taste, and its 0.0% range is no exception. The delicate balance of fruits and malts create a crisp taste and a pleasant aroma, and it’s 0.0% alcohol content means you can slam them down guilt-free.

HAWKESBURY PROHIBITION PALE ALE

ABV: 0.2%

Calories per ml: 28

Where it’s brewed: Hawkesbury Brewing Company, NSW

What’s good?
Brewed naturally with premium ingredients
Australian owned
Low ABV

Another delicious local brew, the gleefully named Prohibition Pale Ale taps right into the days of old, both with its title and with its heady blend of citra and galaxy hops. The good folks at Hawkesbury claim that the secret to Prohibition Pale Ale’s full bodied deliciousness is their unique fermentation process, which involves the brewers reducing the alcohol levels before dry-hopping with a variety of Australian hops in order to enhance the flavour. If they knew how to make beer this good during the actual Prohibition, would the Prohibition have ended? Probably, very likely, almost certainly, yes. But that should not detract from how good Prohibition Pale Ale is.

MORNINGTON FREE

ABV: 0.5%

Calories per ml: 26

Where it’s brewed: Mornington Peninsula Brewery, VIC

What’s good?
Full bodied taste
Citrus aromas
Pairs well with a light meal

Like so many other beers in Mornington Peninsula’s impressive selection, the Mornington Free is packed with flavour. This pale ale manages to strike the perfect balance between a brew that’s at once bold and refined, but fruity and flavoursome. It’s the perfect bev to crack open at after a hectic workday, before a meal, or during a catch up with an old friend. In short, it’s a tasty, tasty beer, and like the other contenders on this list, you’ll completely forget that it’s non-alcoholic.

Beers that didn’t make the list

Look, there’s just not room for everyone on a top 10 list at the best of times, and non-alcoholic beer is now a flooded market! But I’d like to give a big shout out to Vandestreek Playground who make a smooth and full-bodied IPA that’s notable, I just couldn’t fit it in (well, I couldn’t fit it in the list, but I fit it in my gut just fine).

Some folks might also be expecting to see some names like Carlton Zero or Corona Cero on here, so I’d like to point out that while these brands deliver perfectly palatable non-alcoholic beers, they just weren’t special enough to make the cut. Would I drink a Carlton Zero over a Sobah? No. Would I drink several Carlton Zeros if they were up for grabs in a communal eskie? Absolutely.

Non-Alcoholic Beer FAQ’s

Is non-alcoholic beer good for you?

In a word – no. Sadly, just because something is non-alcoholic doesn’t make it a health food. They’re not necessarily terrible for you either, in moderation – but like alcoholic beer, they still contain carbs, calories and sugar which can pack on the pounds and be detrimental to your health if consumed on the reg. So it’s best to think of non-alc beer as a healthier alternative to beer (as well as most soft drinks), and less like a health shake (but while we’re on that, you might also want to be checking the ingredients of those so-called health shakes)!

Will I get a beer-gut from non-alcoholic beers?

Similar answer as above! Drinking non-alcoholic beer in excess may still give you most of the ingredients a beer-belly needs to blossom (especially if you’re not exercising), but you’ll almost certainly get a beer gut quicker with alcoholic beer. As we’ve mentioned, alcohol is high in kilojoules, but it also impedes your body’s ability to burn fat. Alcohol also makes you lethargic and less likely to exercise. It really all comes down to your own individual consumption, metabolism and lifestyle.

Can people under 18 drink non-alcoholic beers?

This answer might vary depending on where you’re reading this from; but in Australia, at the time of writing, it’s not illegal for people under 18 to purchase and consume non-alcoholic beer. However some supermarkets and bottle shops set their own policies on who they do or don’t sell beers to, so it’s ultimately between you and your Liquorland overlords.

Can I fail a breathalyser test on non-alcoholic beers?

If you’ve been drinking the non-alcoholic beers that have 0.5% of alcohol in them (which is most of them) as opposed to 0% variety, then there is a chance that a breathalyser might pick that up; especially if you’ve down a few quickly and within a short period of time. It’s extremely unlikely that you’ll be over the legal driving limit, but if you are required to have 0% alcohol in your bloodstream (for example, if you are required to pass an interlock test), then non-alc beers with 0.5% are best to be avoided, just to be safe.

Why do some non-alcoholic beers contain 0.05% alcohol?

I know, it feels a bit contradictory, doesn’t it? The simple answer is that the best way to get a non-alcoholic beer to taste like an alcoholic beer is to brew it the same way; it’s the fermentation process that ups the alcohol content, and then that alcoholic content is drastically reduced to the point that it’s negligible. However, if you’re trying to avoid alcohol entirely, then you should not drink the 0.5% non-alc beers (but you can still drink the 0% brands).

Will non-alcoholic beers give me a buzz?

Only if you get buzzed from being a sober life of the party. 0.5% alcohol is so minuscule that your body should be able to process it well before you get tipsy, even if you’re slamming them back fast. It’d be like getting drunk off kombucha or a banana. If you are such a lightweight that you can get drunk off banana, then I don’t know why you’re reading this list. Head on down to the fruit stall and enjoy your natural high.

Final Verdict

For my time and money, my top 3 non-alc brews are hands down Sobah, Heaps Normal, and Big Drop Brewing Co.

Each one of these beers is less of a beverage and more of a lovely liquid meal.

Incidentally, my partner who does not at all like beer was also drawn to these brands, in particular the Big Drop Brewing Co, so take that with a grain of fermentable sugars.

Fabian Lapham
Fabian Lapham
writer, director, and content producer who has written numerous product reviews and pop culture treatises for everything from low-calorie brew to Wi-Fi t-shirts. He is also the creator and director of the SBS multiplatform animated series “Suspect Moustache” as well as copious other internet oddities.

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Fabian Lapham
Fabian Lapham
writer, director, and content producer who has written numerous product reviews and pop culture treatises for everything from low-calorie brew to Wi-Fi t-shirts. He is also the creator and director of the SBS multiplatform animated series “Suspect Moustache” as well as copious other internet oddities.