What is Non-Alcoholic Beer?
Non-alcoholic beer, as the name suggests, is a beverage that goes through the same brewing process as regular beer but without any alcohol content.
The taste of a non-alcoholic beer depends on the brewing method. A well-brewed NA beer is not a subpar alternative to traditional beer. It has the same taste, aroma, and complexity but without the risk of hangovers.
However, non-alcoholic beer may still contain up to 0.5% alcohol. That’s why it is also known as light beer, small beer, or near beer.
How is Non-Alcoholic Beer Made?
Whether you’re a teetotaler or just curious, you might wonder how beer can be brewed, fermented, and packaged without alcohol. Let’s delve into the process.
The process of brewing non-alcoholic beer follows the same steps as regular beer. The malt is mashed to extract the wort, which is then fermented with yeast. Afterward, all the alcohol is removed from the beer before it is carbonated and packaged.
The brewing process includes malting, milling, mashing, heating, brewing, cooling, fermentation, dealcoholization, and packaging.
Barley is soaked in water and allowed to sprout. This softens the starch for easier conversion into sugar. The barley is then dried in a kiln.
The dried malt grains are finely ground. Milling increases the surface area for yeast and enzymes to act on the starches. The fine flour is mixed with water.
The finely ground malt is crushed to convert the remaining starches into sugar, which dissolves in the water.
The mixture is heated to about 75°C (167°F) and then filtered into the wort.
The wort is boiled for approximately 2 hours to extract color, flavor, and aroma from the grains. Most of the water is then removed.
The wort is filtered to remove solid materials and rapidly cooled to create an environment suitable for yeast fermentation.
The cooled wort is saturated with oxygen and transferred to a fermentation tank. Yeast acts on the wort for about ten days.
After fermentation, the beer is aged in a conditioning tank to allow off-flavors to dissipate and undesirable colors and aromas to be eliminated.
At this stage, the beer contains a significant amount of alcohol. The conversion to non-alcoholic beer occurs during this process.
Finally, the beer is filtered, carbonated, and bottled.
ACE Craft Beer Brewing System
Benefits of Non-Alcoholic Beer
The low alcohol content in light beers allows for safe consumption without impairing driving abilities.
You would need to consume several gallons to feel intoxicated.
The beverage reduces the likelihood of experiencing hangovers as it is less diuretic.
Non-alcoholic beer has fewer calories compared to other beers.
It contains various minerals and nutrients.
It can help individuals abstain from regular alcoholic beers. Studies have shown that people who consume low ABV drinks recover from addiction faster than those who do not. In short, this beverage provides the taste of beer and quenches thirst without the addictive effects of alcohol.
Moreover, it avoids the side effects associated with alcohol consumption.
Disadvantages of Non-Alcoholic Beer
The boiling process during dealcoholization can alter the flavor of the beer.
With a 0.5% ABV, this beverage can still lead to intoxication. In many U.S. states, its sale is prohibited to individuals under the age of 21.
The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) advises against consuming non-alcoholic beer during pregnancy due to the potential risk of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder from the small amount of alcohol present in the beverage.