Overdoing it on beer was too simple this year. As the pandemic and pugnacious politics upended 2020, cold IPAs were accessible salves for frayed nerves. One could quickly lead to two, four, or more—today’s stress relief bringing tomorrow’s hangover. But in a world off its axis, people are increasingly looking to assert control when it comes to drinking. There’s a real trend toward abstaining from alcohol and moderating intake. Luckily, that no longer means giving up great-tasting beer. “Shifts in drinker perceptions and advancements in brewing technology suggest we’re on the brink of a nonalcoholic beer renaissance,” says Jim Koch, chairman of Boston Beer Company. These nonalcoholic beers prove that when it comes to flavor, nothing really is something.
10 Nonalcoholic Beers That Taste Like the Real Thing
1. Athletic Brewing Company Upside Dawn Golden Ale
Meet one of America’s fastest-growing nonalcoholic breweries, thanks to a proprietary brewing process that leads to boldly flavored bevs. Upside Dawn unites organic German and American malts in a floral, 50-calorie package that drinks light and easy. As such, it’s become popular among the adventure set.
2. Suntory All-Free
Japanese brewers ran through more than 400 formulas before cracking the code on All-Free, a beer-inspired refresher made with malt barley and hops. It’s reminiscent of a seltzer, full of strong carbonation and flavor, but with zero calories, sugar, and alcohol since they nixed the fermentation process altogether. What’s more, there are no artificial flavors or sweeteners.
3. Lagunitas Brewing Company IPNA
Clever name, eh? Lagunitas spent a year refining its first nonalcoholic brew, which was just released this December. Like its flagship IPA, this dank little number packs a pungent profile of citrus and pine trees, since it’s dry-hopped with several Pacific Northwest hops like Citra and Columbus from the Yakima Valley. It clocks in under 100 calories to boot.
4. Samuel Adams Just the Haze IPA
Hundreds of yeast strains were tested to create this nonalcoholic hazy IPA (nationwide release early 2021). Wheat and oats amplify the body, while Citra, Mosaic, Sabro, and Cascade hops impart a fragrant profile of pineapple, peaches, and grapefruit. The head retention and gold color are similar to Samuel Adams‘ New England IPA. How wicked is that?
5. Ceria Brewing Company Grainwave
Blue Moon creator Keith Villa’s second act is Ceria, a Colorado brewery focused on nonalcoholic beers made with (and without) THC. Grainwave is a medium-bodied, Belgian-inspired witbier flavored with blood orange peel and coriander and just 77 calories per serving. THC-infused brews (5mg) are available at licensed dispensaries.
6. Surreal Brewing Company Natural Bridges Kölsch Style Ale
Surreal Brewing Company‘s 17-calorie bev is named after a California marine preserve and based on a German kölsch—an ale fermented at colder temperatures for a balance of subtle fruitiness and refreshment. The beer’s soft malt profile goes great with salads and roasted chicken.
7. Heineken 0.0
Heineken has pulled off a delicious magic trick: This gently fruity 69-calorie lager tastes nearly identical to the full-strength original thanks to a unique process of brewing several batches of beer, then blending them.
8. Bauhaus Brew Labs “Nah” Helles Lager
After Bauhaus co-owner Matt Schwandt was hospitalized with acute pancreatitis and had to give up alcohol, he began developing the “Nah” line of nonalcoholic beers. This bright take on a German-style helles lager (meaning pale in color) is made with German hops and malts for a traditional character of fresh-baked bread.
9. BrewDog Wake Up Call
BrewDog‘s brunch-ready stout offers a different kind of buzz. It’s brewed with coffee for a pleasant pick-me-up, while oats and a sprinkling of milk sugar lactose lend smoothness to the roasty sip. FYI: The beer contains 39 mg of caffeine per 12-ounce serving (a bit more than a can of Coke).
10. Clausthaler Santa Clausthauler
For a jolly, alcohol-free holiday tipple, sip Santa Clausthaler. The latest nonalcoholic beer from Germany’s Clausthaler—a leader in the category since 1979—is flavored with cinnamon and cranberry for a festive kick.