It’s my job to drink beer. It’s an enviable career choice, for sure, and it’s everything you might imagine it to be: free-flowing pints, a fridge always filled with great beer, travelling the world to find the best brews… But even a professional drinker like me isn’t immune to the negative effects of alcohol. For every night I can’t quite remember, there’s a morning after I wish I could forget.
For years I didn’t consider non-alcoholic beer because I didn’t think any of the options were worth drinking. But now they are. The brewing techniques have been perfected, there are excellent breweries opening that only make alcohol free beer, and you can find any style or character of beer in alcohol-free form. The best examples can be thought of as great beers that just happen to be non-alcoholic.
You may be cutting down on booze or going on a health splurge after Christmas or, like half of UK adults these days, perhaps you don’t drink. But whether you’re a hangover-hater, teetotaller, frequent driver, midweek abstainer or up-early exerciser, you needn’t forgo the pleasures of an evening beer – not with the exciting range of non-alcoholic brews available now.
Alcohol-free beer is for life, not just for Dry January.
Alcohol-free beer is often 0.5% ABV, but did you know that lots of food and drink contains natural traces of alcohol? A very ripe banana (0.4%), a glass of orange juice (0.6%) and even some burger buns (up to 1%).
Five of the best non-alcoholic beers to try
Lucky Saint, Germany/England, 0.5%
This is everything you want in a great unfiltered lager (often hazy in appearance and beloved of beer geeks for its complex flavours and aromas). It’s crisply dry and refreshing with a hint of citrus – look out for it on tap in pubs. Available from luckysaint.co (£10 for 4).
Lowtide Brewing Co. The Cosmic Turtle NEIPA, England, 0.5%
Vibrantly tropical with fruity hops, The Cosmic Turtle is a New England-style IPA (India pale ale) from a brilliant booze-free brewer. Try with a Thai curry. Available from lowtidebrewingco.com (£2.89).
Lowlander 0.00% Wit, Netherlands, 0.0%
Brewed with discarded orange and lemon peels, this wheat beer (a style of beer that originated in Germany, with wheat added to the usual barley malt) is a little sweet and pleasingly reminiscent of a glass of homemade lemonade. Available from wisebartender.co.uk (£1.99).
Big Drop Brewing Co. Paradiso Citra IPA, England, 0.5%
A multi award-winning IPA with bright hop aromas of grapefruit, orange and pine, and a bittersweet finish (contains lactose). Available frombigdropbrew.com (£20 for 12).
Jump/Ship Yardarm, Scotland, 0.5%
A classic-tasting lager made more aromatic with a light addition of lemony citra hops. It’s also gluten-free. Great with fish and chips. Available from wisebartender.co.uk (£2.49).