Taste Test: Nonalcoholic Beer - Imbibe Magazine Subscribe + Save

It wasn’t long ago when nonalcoholic beer options in the U.S. left much to be desired. Fortunately, U.S. craft brewers, and even macro brewers, have since followed the lead of German brewers who were the first to release worthwhile alkoholfrei offerings. In fact, the fast-growing category of nonalcoholic beer now includes NA alternatives in most beer styles. Here are some excellent low-proof brews hailing from around the globe. (Note: If a beer contains less than 0.5 percent ABV, it’s not “alcohol-free” but is defined as “nonalcoholic” by the FDA.)

AL’s Classic Non-Alcoholic Beer

Alban de Pury launched AL’s Drinks Company in 2020 when he realized he felt better after he stopped drinking beer. Still, he missed the flavors and social aspect of drinking, so he created this NA version of a light American lager, taking the beer through full fermentation before carefully removing the alcohol to retain its flavor and texture. The noble hops’ floral notes and herbal bitterness balance the breadiness of the brew, making it all too easy to knock it back. And, it’s less than 0.5 percent ABV. $14.99/6-pack, drinkals.com

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. $13.99/6-pack, athleticbrewing.com

Best Day Brewing Nonalcoholic Kolsch

This crisp and easy-drinking Kolsch-style ale by Northern California’s Best Day Brewing made news last month when it became Alaska Airlines’ first NA beer offering. It also garnered acclaim as the number-one-selling NA kolsch in the U.S. Created from a combination of Cologne and Pilsner malts and Hallertau Traditional hops, its toasty character and citrusy bitterness make for flavorful and satisfying refreshment. $13.99/6-pack, bestdaybrewing.com

Bravus Brewing Co. | Non-Alcoholic IPA

Simcoe, Cascade, Columbus and Amarillo hops all make appearances in this nonalcoholic beer 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. $13.99/6-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. $13.99/6-pack, brooklynbrewing.com

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. $9.99/6-pack, totalwine.com

Sierra Nevada Trail Pass IPA

The idea for this new NA beer, which launched nationwide this month, originated five years ago after a visit to Germany, which, even back then, had quality NA offerings when America hadn’t even begun to explore the category. After years of trying to brew exceptional nonalcoholic IPAs, Sierra Nevada brewmasters James Conery and Isaiah Mangold stumbled across a hybrid strain of beer and wine yeasts that fermented cleanly, enhancing the Amarillo and CTZ hops’ citrus and pine notes. The result is an IPA with hoppy bitterness and a silky body boasting less than 0.5% ABV. $27.98/12-pack, sierranevada.com

Untitled Art Non-Alcoholic Juicy IPA

Wisconsin brewery Untitled Art offers an array of innovative canned beverages, such as Korean-style hard seltzer, CBD sparkling water, and limited-release beers like the barrel-aged German Chocolate Cake Pastry Stout. Even though they now have a rotating roster of 0.5 percent ABV beers, the NA Juicy IPA, which scored an “Outstanding” by Beer Advocate, was the one that started it all. The NA New England-style/hazy IPA brewed with Citra and Mosaic hops features tropical juiciness and citrus notes. $17.99/6-pack, drinkuntitled.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. $11.99/4-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. $14.99/6-pack, bevmo.com

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