5 Flavorful Non-Alcoholic Beers

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These alcohol-free stouts, lagers, and IPAs taste just like the real thing. Try one or all of them, especially if you’re partaking in Dry January.

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Photography Credit: Andy Christensen

For more than 15 years, I’ve covered the craft brewing industry’s stratospheric rise in America, chronicling barrel-aged stouts, hazy IPAs, fruited sour ales, and most every beer category save for one kind: non-alcoholic.

Why bother? Non-alcoholic beers were mainly afterthought lagers lobbed into the mainstream, as inoffensive and uninteresting as side salads at a second-rate steakhouse.

Times and tastes have changed, though. Here are five excellent non-alcoholic beers for your next hang time, or anytime.

Four cans and one bottle of non-alcoholic beers are lined up on a table.

The Flavorful New World of Non-Alcoholic Beer

We’ve entered a new era of non-alcoholic beers. New-breed breweries are quickly reinventing the category and creating full-flavored, highly fragrant non-alcoholic beers.

They’re do so by using unique yeast strains, high-tech equipment to remove alcohol via reverse osmosis or vacuum distillation, limiting or halting fermentation and the production of alcohol, and other proprietary techniques destined for a patent.

Gone are the days of one-size-fits-all lagers.

Today’s NA beers run the gamut from intensely hopped IPAs to stouts suited for sipping by a fire. They can deliver all the taste, aroma, and creativity that you’ve come to expect in craft beer, minus that hangover.

A can of non-alcoholic beer next to a glass of stout beer.

For Fans of Dark Beer: Athletic Brewing All Out Stout

Athletic Brewing cracked the code on making massively flavorful non-alcoholic beer.

The Connecticut brewery, which was founded in 2018 and has expanded to a San Diego facility, uses a multistep proprietary process to completely ferment beer to less than .5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), helping the beers taste remarkably close to their normal-strength craft counterparts.

The brewery’s far-ranging portfolio of non-alcoholic beers includes citrusy IPAs, Mexican lagers, tart and fruity sour ales, and this wintertime treat.

All Out brings bittersweet cocoa and dark-roasted coffee to the table, making the beer a great pairing with rich and meaty stews or a nicely seared steak.

A can of non alcoholic beer next to a glass of beer.

For the Athlete: Bootstrap Brewing Company Strapless IPA

Last fall the Longmont, Colorado brewery released its first non-alcoholic beer: the 100-calorie Strapless IPA.

It’s custom-designed for the fitness-minded crowd, packed with electrolytes including potassium, magnesium, and sodium for a replenishing pick-me-up after a hike, bike ride, or your favorite exercise.

Strapless is more than a sports drink substitute. The addition of Citra, Galaxy, and Mosaic hops equip Strapless with a complete complement of tropical fruit fragrances that beer drinkers expect in full-strength IPAs.

A can of non-alcoholic beer next to a glass of a light pilsner-style beer.

For the Calorie Conscious: Partake Brewing Blonde Ale

If you’re curtailing your alcohol and caloric intake, look to Partake Brewing.

The Canadian brewery uses a top-secret brewing process to create an IPA, pale ale, red ale, and more that top out at 30 calories per 12-ounce serving.

The bright Blonde weighs in at 15 calories and just three carbs, a light ale with a sweetly refreshing malt flavor that would play well with salads, as well as roast chicken and fish.

A can of non alcoholic beer next to a glass of beer.

For Fruit Fans: BrewDog Elvis AF

The rabble-rousing Scottish brewery built its name on bold flavors and outlandish stunts, once brewing the world’s strongest beer and stuffing the bottle inside a taxidermied squirrel.

Now the global company, which operates a U.S. brewery in Columbus, Ohio, is expertly exploring alcohol’s lowest extremes with its AF series of beers.

None stint on taste. Wake-Up Call is a coffee-packed jolt of a stout, while Hazy AF deploys oats, wheat, and tropical hops as a nonalcoholic stand-in for a juicy IPA.

One of my favorite BrewDog beers is the zesty Elvis Juice IPA, a pithy celebration of grapefruit. The nonalcoholic version, Elvis AF, is a sunny and citrusy refresher that would be right at home at brunch.

A bottle of non alcoholic beer next to a glass of Heineken.

For the Lager Lover: Heineken 0.0

I’ve never been the hugest fan of Heineken, favoring other European lagers and pilsners over the green-bottled Dutch beer. Then I tried the company’s nonalcoholic analogue to its flagship beer, the 69-calorie 0.0.

Any absence typically means that you’re missing something, but 0.0 is the rare zero-alcohol beer that’s even better than its alcohol-filled analogue.

The nonalcoholic version drinks squeaky-clean and slightly fruity, a snappy stand-in for when I want something stronger—or simply nothing at all.

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Joshua M. Bernstein

Joshua M. Bernstein is a journalist specializing in beer, spirits, food, travel, and other intoxicating ways of the world. He regularly writes for The New York Times, Men’s Journal, New York magazine, and Imbibe, where he’s a contributing editor in charge of beer coverage. Bernstein is also the author of five books: Brewed Awakening, The Complete Beer Course, Complete IPA, Homebrew World and Drink Better Beer. He lives with his wife and daughter in Brooklyn, where he likes riding his bike, eating dumplings, and checking out the street art.

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2 Comments

No Image5 Flavorful Non-Alcoholic Beers

  1. BRUCE

    The BEST domestic non-alcoholic beer that I have ever tasted was a product of the original Coors brewing company, called, “Cutter.”
    It actually tasted better than regular beer and wasn’t filling.
    The best imported non-alcoholic beer that I have ever tasted was from Israel, with the name of “Star.”
    The remaining one is a very cold “Kaliber,” which goes very well with a meal

  2. Ian

    Thanks! I’ll certainly be seeking out a couple of these to try. I’m hoping the Heineken carries a price point that isn’t quite as premium as some of the others.

    Curious if you’ve had a chance to try my recent discovery, https://lagunitas.com/beer/ipna. I found the Lagunitas NA IPA more interesting than Athletic Brewing’s version.

A glass of beer with a variety of non-alcoholic cans of beer behind it.5 Flavorful Non-Alcoholic Beers