Taste Test: Alcohol-Free Beer

You don’t need to be an Olympic athlete or the designated driver to enjoy alcohol-free beer these days. German brewers were the first to release worthwhile alkoholfrei offerings, followed by other European brands both big and small, and now U.S. craft brewers are helping define this fast-growing category of the beer market. Here are some great options hailing from around the globe.

Athletic Brewing Co. | Upside Dawn Non-Alcoholic Golden Ale
Stratford, Connecticut’s entirely NA brewery Athletic brews a naturally alcohol-free beer, with its entire lineup undergoing a fermentation process and winding up at a negligible 0.5 percent ABV. The brewery uses organic malts from Germany and the U.S., as well as English and American hops for their clean golden ale, which carries a shining bitterness and is so refreshing the missing alcohol won’t be missed at all. $12.99/6-pack, athleticbrewing.com

Bravus Brewing Co. | Non-Alcoholic IPA
Simcoe, Cascade, Columbus and Amarillo hops all make appearances in this NA offering from California brewery Bravus, which uses a proprietary process that employs manipulated yeast to adjust the brew’s alcohol content. Thoroughly hopped, this pleasantly floral take on an IPA emerges creamy, with hints of pine and a welcome bitterness that never becomes overbearing. $10.99/6-pack, bravus.com

Brooklyn Brewery | Special Effects
Following an initial release in Sweden, Brooklyn Brewery’s nonalcoholic American Amber Lager made booze-free waves when it hit U.S. markets last October. Brewed via an alcohol-inhibiting fermentation process, the deeply golden lager delivers a malty sweetness up front, thanks to dry-hopping with Citra and Amarillo hops, followed by the bracing piney bite of Mosaic hops on the back end. Visit brooklynbrewing.com for distribution info.

Clausthaler | Original Non-Alcoholic
Clausthaler’s Original Non-Alcoholic beer isn’t just one of the best NA beers, it’s also one of the first. The German brewery launched in 1979 after developing a patented process to prevent the formation of alcohol during brewing. With the nose of a crisp German pilsner or kölsch, this bright beer has a cohesive flavor and snappy quality, making it perfect for pairing with food. $6.99/6-pack, totalwine.com

WellBeing Brewing | Victory Wheat
With a nose full of fresh orange and hints of coriander, the shandy-like WellBeing Victory Wheat is the ideal Indian summer companion. Maryland-based WellBeing relies on Munich-made technology to cut the booze from its brews once they’re fully fermented. Enriched with electrolytes, this refreshing wheat beer is positioned for athletes but enjoyable by all. $9.99/4-pack, wellbeingbrewing.com

Weihenstephaner | Non-Alcoholic Malt Beverage
The oldest brewery in the world, Bavaria’s Weihenstephan teamed up with the Technical University of Munich-Weihenstephan to produce this hefeweizen-like brew, with the alcohol extracted post-fermentation. The beer bears all the telltale signs of the classic German style: barely bitter, with notes of banana and yeasty bread on the nose, and a creamy mouthfeel. $12.49/6-pack, holidaywinecellar.com


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