Is A Zero Alcohol Beer Really Beer?

Written By Ian

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Some people argue that zero beer is not a true beer because it contains no alcohol.  Others argue that zero beer is a beer because it is brewed using the same methods as regular beer.  Is it the alcohol content, or is it the flavor and ingredients? So, what‘s the answer? Let’s take a look. What Makes A Beer – Beer? Legal definition of beer: In the UK: A fermented malt beverage. “ale, porter, stout and any other description of beer and any liquor which is made or sold as a description of beer or as a substitute for beer and which is of a strength exceeding 0.5 per cent” (Source) In the US: The default definition for “beer” under federal law is greater than 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV). (Source) Of course, there are many different types of beer available, from mass-produced lagers to small-batch craft beers. But they ...

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Some people argue that zero beer is not a true beer because it contains no alcohol. 

Others argue that zero beer is a beer because it is brewed using the same methods as regular beer. 

Is it the alcohol content, or is it the flavor and ingredients?

So, what‘s the answer? Let’s take a look.

What Makes A Beer – Beer?

Legal definition of beer:

In the UK:

A fermented malt beverage. “ale, porter, stout and any other description of beer and any liquor which is made or sold as a description of beer or as a substitute for beer and which is of a strength exceeding 0.5 per cent” (Source)

In the US:

The default definition for “beer” under federal law is greater than 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV). (Source)

Of course, there are many different types of beer available, from mass-produced lagers to small-batch craft beers. But they all still follow the same principles.

So, legally, beer is a beverage made from water, malt, hops and yeast, that is above 0.5% in ABV.

Zero beer is alcohol-free, which means it doesn’t meet the legal definition of beer in most countries. Even low alcohol, non-alcoholic, or near beers, all need to meet the legal requirements of being under 0.5% abv.

So by law, zero beer isn’t really a beer at all. 

Let’s take a look at what we define as a beer instead.

What is beer by definition?

A beer is by definition: 

“alcoholic beverage produced by extracting raw materials with water, boiling (usually with hops), and fermenting.” (Source)

So, when we look at what defines a beer, it’s actually the ingredients.

Is zero beer still a beer?

Zero alcohol beer is made with the same ingredients as regular beer: water, barley, hops, and yeast. 

The difference is how it is fermented or processed.

So, zero alcohol beer is a beer.

It’s made with the same ingredients, it’s just that the brewing process takes different steps to ensure zero or low alcohol content.

It’s just thought of differently because of our preconceptions that beer must contain alcohol.

Of course, some beer purists might argue that the lack of alcohol makes it a less enjoyable beverage. 

They might say that the flavor is watered down and that it’s missing the taste and mouthfeel of their favourite beer. 

But that’s changing.

Many zero and non-alcoholic beers are coming so close to regular beers that the vast majority of experts can’t even tell them apart in a taste test.

Beer was historically brewed as a safer option to drinking from rivers or canals which were often contaminated. 

Nowadays, we drink beer because we enjoy it. So for the same reason we drink zero beers because we actually enjoy the taste and experience of them.

Zero Beer Will Stand The Test Of Time:

At the end of the day, zero alcohol beer can still taste great, and it’s a perfectly valid option for people who don’t want to drink alcohol for whatever reason. 

As the saying goes, “you can’t keep a good beer down”. And that’s absolutely true of zero beer these days.

The zero beer market is growing rapidly, with sales expected to reach $25 billion by 2024. 

People are changing their drinking habits and are increasingly opting for zero or low-alcohol options.

So that preconceived idea that beer needs to be alcoholic is starting to change. 

Consumers are going to grab a beer and preferentially choose a low or zero choice.

So whether you think it’s a real beer or not, it’s definitely worth trying either way!

(P.S. It’s a beer)

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