Guide to Non-Alcoholic DrinksNon-Alcoholic BeerWhat is Zero Alcohol Beer: PART 1 – The What and Why

What is Zero Alcohol Beer: The What and Why (Part 1)

Zero alcohol beer, we all know about it on some level. However, you might be struggling to figure out where it is for you, whether it is worth your while and how you can fit it into a more health-focused lifestyle without undoing the hard work that you put in at the gym.

As a collective the world over, we are starting to shift our focus towards more health-conscious choices in not only what we eat but also what we drink. This shift hasn’t stopped at the typically sugar-laden soft drinks that can contain anywhere between 30 and 70 grams of sugar per bottle (ouch!).  The movement has also spread to alcoholic drinks and beer in particular

In Part 1 of this 2 part blog series I’m going to give you a rundown on:

  • Why you should consider alcohol free beer; and 
  • Whether there is actually any alcohol in these zero alcohol beers.
Zero Alcohol Beer selection on a bench

Why Zero Alcohol Beer?

With health food and drinks proving to be a major growth category as consumer’s focuses are shifting towards healthier alternatives it would only make sense that beer and alcohol would start to see their own transformation. 

The variety of zero alcohol beers, also known as non-alcoholic beers or alcohol-free beers, have begun to really make their presence known across the country in a big way. Breweries are increasingly adding non -alcoholic beer options as a part of their core range and specialty drink collections. 

Tipple Zero Zero alcohol Drinks Podcast

Share the experience.

Personally, as I am sure you are all aware by now, I absolutely LOVE Non-alcoholic beers. As they provide me with a great way to, when out with friends, opt for being the designated driver without missing out on any of the fun. 

In years gone by you, much like me, have probably experienced being the odd one out stuck drinking pints of soda water or sugary on tap premix (gross) when being responsible for getting friends and family home safely from events and long weekend lunches.

Zero alcohol beer gives you the option to enjoy a brew and share the experience with friends and family in a way that a glass of soda water, as well-intentioned, fail to do. The part you will enjoy most is that, at a glance, the drink in your hand is completely indistinguishable from the drink of everyone else you’re with. 

James Squire Zero Beer answering the question of is non-alcoholic beer healthy

Drink freely without the downsides of alcohol.

I bet you know this feeling, imagine you are:

  • craving the bounce and tang of a hoppy IPA or the malt of a lager, and then go on to have an internal battle on whether you should reach for the beer due to the alcohol content; or
  • are unable to drink due to any host of reasons – medication, health reasons, you name it – and just wish you could enjoy the flavours of your favourite brew. 

Right, I bet that brought up at least one or two occasions in your life where you missed out on drinking a beer.

The new range of non-alcoholic beers gives you the ability to:

  • enjoy a range of really (and I mean R-E-A-L-L-Y) good options;
  • drink freely;
  • drink mindfully; and
  • avoid the regular pitfalls (hangover and foggy heads, just to name a couple)

Whatever the reason you’re not drinking, non-alcoholic drinks are a great alternative that acts as the magic elixir that lets you avoid the hangovers of yesteryear and stay involved in the festivities.

Is there alcohol in non-alcoholic beer?

Let’s get this out right up front, the alcohol you’ll find in a single non-alcoholic beer is equal to the amount you will find when drinking a glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice or eating a really well-ripened banana. 

Now, you have probably gathered that this means that:

  1. there technically is a trace amount of alcohol in a zero alcohol beer; and
  2. the amount of trace alcohol these contain are so small (we’re talking literally less than 0.5%), you would need to drink well more than your bladder can hold (in quick succession) in order to get anywhere near close to the impact even one standard beer. 

Basically, while it does contain a trace amount of alcohol, that amount is so small, you’re going to need to get through more than a slab before making a dint from a blood alcohol level. 

Non Alcoholic IPA beer by Big Drop in hand

Zero Alcohol Beer: Difficult beginnings

Now, while the recent trend towards a more health-focused way of living has seen zero alcohol beer becoming more popular now, that doesn’t mean that they have only recently been introduced. In reality, non-alcoholic beers have been around for quite a  number of years now, going by a whole range of different names. 

The most common of them were “near beers”, but they’d also been known as “small ales” or “pretend beers”. 

The reason they had these rather harsh names in the past (and still do in some increasingly shrinking circles today) is that, for the longest time, alcohol-free beers had a reputation for being a kind of “knockoff” version of actual beer. 

In their early years of notoriety, alcohol-free beers were considered as pale imitations by experts and aficionados. This label was, in the early days, adequately placed with most beers being overly sweet and strong on malty flavours that were the result of less than ideal alcohol extraction processes. 

Vandestreek NEIPA can and glass with beer poured in it

What is in Part 2?

That brings me to the end of Part 1 of this two-part Blog on non-alcoholic beer. 

In Part 2 we’ll cover off:

  • the way in which brewmasters typically removed alcohol from beer brews;
  • how brewmasters are now using a new strain of yeast to brew beer without any alcohol whatsoever; 
  • the history of non-alcoholic beer; and
  • some great options for you to try!

Until next time, there are a host of beer brand reviews you can find on the brands page of the website so head over check them out and let me know what beers you’ve tried and what your favorites are right about now.


by Jonathan Lambrianidis

Non-alcoholic drinks writer and podcaster, beer brewing and winemaking side-kick, lawyer and cyclist. Owner of and the Non-Alcoholic Drinks Podcast.