Do You Need ID To Buy Non Alcoholic Beer

Written By Ian

Last Updated :

In This Article...

In the U.S, you must be 21 years old to purchase alcohol, and 18 in the UK & Europe. But what about non-alcoholic beer? Is an ID required to purchase it?

In the U.S., you must be 21 years old to purchase alcohol, and 18 in the UK & Europe. But what about non-alcoholic beer? Is an ID required to purchase it?

the inside of a dimly lit empty bar

A lot of regular non-alcoholic beer drinkers will already know the answer to this one. 

But if you’re planning on heading to your local store or planning a night out at a bar and want to grab some non-alcoholic beers and want to know if you need your id. 

The answer is (most likely) YES

This also means that in stores and bars, there will be no service of non-alcoholic beers outside of the hours that are licensed for alcohol sales.

If you are new to the zero beer world, you might be pretty surprised to learn that in most cases, you need to show ID to buy alcohol-free beer.

It’s quite confusing since if there’s no alcohol in the beer, anyone should be able to buy it, right?

Let’s take a look at why bars, pubs, and retailers treat many zero and non-alcoholic drinks the same as alcoholic drinks.

Quick Answer

While there is now law that states you need I.D to buy non-alcoholic beers, there are a few reasons why you will always be asked. It comes down to common sense, and how close non-alcoholic beers resemble regular beers.

There Is No Law Against Selling N/A Beers Without ID

It’s common knowledge that non-alcoholic beers generally contain some trace amounts of alcohol. Usually up to 0.5% abv. 

But that’s not why non-alcoholic beers are restricted. 

After all, a typical can of soda or grape juice contains similar levels of alcohol.

And legally, anything under 0.5% is considered alcohol-free. 

Although current laws in the UK, US and EU on the sale of alcohol do not include alcohol-free beers.

And technically, a premises does not need a license to sell non-alcoholic beers.

Retailers, stores, and bars are all generally treating these drinks as alcohol products by checking ID and selling them at limited times.

If a store or bar is asking for ID, it’s just a company policy, not the law.

So if you want to buy an alcohol-free beer in a pub, bar, or store, be prepared to show your ID. 

Why You Need ID To Buy Non-Alcoholic Beer

So why exactly do I need i.d to purchase non-alcoholic beers?

For 2 important reasons:

  1. To make it easier to enforce alcohol laws and legislations.
  2. To avoid promoting alcoholic beers to minors.

Enforce Alcohol Laws And Legislation

If a business is caught selling alcohol to minors, they risk being fined, losing their alcohol license, or facing personal fines or imprisonment in more extreme cases. 

As a result of potentially losing their livelihood or getting a heavy fine, businesses are extremely cautious when it comes to selling or even promoting alcohol. 

This is why you’ll often see businesses carding customers, even when they don’t look under the legal drinking age. 

(Take it as a compliment)

It’s just not worth the risk to sell alcohol to someone who’s not of legal age.

Avoid Promoting Alcoholic Beers To Minors

There is a concern that promoting non-alcoholic drinks to minors, such as alcohol-free beer, could indirectly promote similar products that do contain alcohol.

It’s much the same reason advertising alcohol to minors is monitored and regulated.

Just take a look at the non-alcoholic beers in the image below. They pretty much look the same as their alcoholic counterpart.

A selection of non alcoholic beers

Another reason, according to many bar owners, is it’s very difficult to distinguish what is a non-alcoholic beer and a regular beer when served in a glass. 

Again, in the image below could you tell the difference?

A regular beer and non alcoholic beer side by side

They pretty much even taste the same in most cases.

So, while minors can technically buy non-alcoholic beers in the UK, the vast majority of stores and bars will not serve or sell them.

Whereas in the U.S, in many states minors are not permitted to purchase non-alcoholic beers or it is strongly recommended that it isn’t sold to anyone under the states drinking age.

And we believe this is the right approach, especially regarding the taste, labeling, and promotion of non-alcoholic beers as things are.

FAQS About Buying Non-Alcoholic Beer

Do I need i.d to buy non-alcoholic beer in the U.S?

To be labelled as a non-alcoholic beer, federal law in the U.S requires the beer to have less than 0.5% ABV.

Non-alcoholic products are regulated entirely differently from alcoholic products from a legal perspective. 

Once a product is made non-alcoholic, in some states it can be sold like soda or any other product. It is no longer categorized as an alcoholic product.

While each state has different laws regarding the sale of alcohol, no state has a law that strictly forbids the sale of non-alcoholic beers to those under 21.

However, some states strongly recommend bars and stores do not sell non-alcoholic beers to those under 21.

Also, as it stands, supermarkets and liquor stores in New York are not allowed to sell beer, soda, or cocktail mixers. This means that non-alcoholic beer and spirits are also not allowed to be sold in New York liquor stores and supermarkets. 

So while it is regulated differently, and not illegal to sell to under 21’s, most bars, supermarkets, and large chain stores will ask for i.d when purchasing non-alcoholic beers due to company policy.

The states that DO NOT prohibit minors from buying or consuming non-alcoholic beer currently include:
> Texas
> Minnesota
> Wisconsin
> New Jersey
> Illinois
> District of Columbia
> Alaska
> Hawaii

You can see the full list of alcohol laws by state so you can be aware of the age limit for buying non-alcoholic beers.

Do I need i.d to buy non-alcoholic beer in the UK?

According to the licensing act 2003, any beverage with an alcohol content of less than 0.5% does not count for the purpose of the act.

“Meaning of “alcohol”

(1)In this Act, “alcohol” means spirits, wine, beer, cider or any other fermented, distilled or spirituous liquor [F1(in any state)], but does not include—

(a)alcohol which is of a strength not exceeding 0.5% at the time of the sale or supply in question”

So legally, you do not have to be 18 to purchase an alcohol-free beer as described. 

However, many major retailers and bars such as Tesco, Morrissons, Asda, Weatherspoons, are all still incredibly strict on selling non-alcoholic beers to unders 18’s. 

As it stands, due to company policies in major retailers, you will need i.d to purchase non-alcoholic beer in UK supermarkets and bars.

What age can you buy Heineken 0.0?

Heineken 0.0 is still treated the same as all non-alcoholic beers even though it is advertised as having zero alcohol.

Again, the packaging and promotion of Heineken 0.0 can be misleading to minors, and very hard for bar owners to monitor who is drinking it on their premises.

So you will usually need ID to purchase Heineken 0.0.

Leave a Comment