Zero Alcohol Beer. Is It Any Good?

Written By Ian

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In This Article...

Many have moved to low-alcohol and zero beers for moderation and wellness trends, while others just enjoy the taste. But the most important factor for any drink is - Does it actually taste good?

Picture this: a golden amber liquid swirling in your glass, bubbles effervescing to the surface, and that familiar hoppy aroma tickling your nostrils. The stage is set for an enjoyable night out with friends or a quiet evening at home; but there’s a twist – this beer has no alcohol content.

Could it be true that you can indulge in one of society’s favorite pastimes without the potential side effects but still enjoy the same great taste?

Zero alcohol beer is hardly a new phenomenon. It’s been around for a long time.

The biggest problem was – it tasted absolutely nothing like the kind of beer we know and love. 

There was this preconception that alcohol-free beer was dull, really thin and a bit boring.

Now, things are changing in the beer world.

Brewers in recent years feel they have cracked the technique behind making alcohol-free beer.

And we are starting to see it pop up in more and more pub fridges and supermarket shelves, reinforcing the demand for going zero.

Many have moved to low-alcohol and zero beers for moderation and wellness trends, while others just enjoy the taste.

And most brewers have at least 1 zero beer on their menus these days, while consumers are finally coming around to giving it go.

But the most important factor for any drink is – Does it actually taste good?

Well – The taste buds don’t lie.

The Struggles Of Zero Beers.

Zero beers first came about way back in 1919 as a result of prohibition in the U.S. 

Zero alcohol beers were a way for breweries to stay in business. 

As this was more of a legal workaround at the time, it’s safe to say it wasn’t really focused on quality or enjoyment. 

Really, they were made out of necessity to stay in business more so than something people actually wanted at the time. 

Then zero beers again had a resurgence again in the 1980’s. Kaler’s non-alcoholic lager started to make its way into bars and stores and, at the time, became the benchmark alcohol-free beer that all others were measured against.

But again, it just wasn’t very good. 

The brewing process was missing the most important ingredients. Flavour!

The Zero Beer Revolution.

The rise in zero beers popularity started around the peak of the craft beer revolution. 

People were drinking not to get drunk, but because people enjoyed the taste and craft. Who would have thought it!?

More and more people moved from mainstream drinks to craft for one key reason: It tasted really good!

Craft brewers were pushing the limits of what can be done with beers, and creating some amazing flavours along the way. 

Truthfully, they changed the way we look at all beers today. 

So the key piece of the puzzle for zero beers was to get the same flavour but without the alcohol. 

Craft breweries saw the market was there for people who drink to enjoy, but for whatever reasons want a non-alcoholic alternative.

Some of the first popular craft breweries to bring zero beers to the market were:

Partake

Brewdog

Athletic

Wellbeing 

O’Douls

And then, of course, the big players followed. 

Zero beers are pretty much a staple of most of the big breweries these days, with premium drinks such as Heineken 0.0%, Guinness 0.0%, etc all having a non-alcoholic variation

Does Zero Beer Pass The Taste Test?

Going back to the question, does zero beer taste good? 

Nowadays, Yes it does. Zero beers are actually kind of amazing.

Zero beers have gone from essentially fizzy yellow water to truly incredible drinks you can enjoy on any occasion. 

While non-alcoholic beer is made to taste just like real beer, there are still some important factors to get right to make the experience just as enjoyable.

Aroma.

The aroma of a beer is the sensation when we first pick up the glass and put it to our noses.

But can non-alcoholic beers have the same kind of strong, hop-filled aroma that alcoholic beers do?

Generally speaking, when you remove the alcohol from beer, you also remove the hop-based aroma. This is because alcohol can sometimes be necessary for the hops to transfer their aroma to the beer.

So, if you are used to the hoppy aroma of a good craft beer, you may be disappointed with some zero beers.

However, that’s not to say all zero beers are lacking in aroma. Just be aware that not all will have the same aroma you might know and love.

But! There is some great news on the zero beer aroma front.

As scientists are actually engineering a new species of yeast that can be added at the end of the brewing process to get that favoured aroma and even flavour back in the beer.

Cheers to science!

Taste.

Taste of a good beer is made up of 4 elements – a sweet element, a sour element, a salty element, and a bitter element.

Generally, zero beers are overall a little bit lighter and crisper, but they pack the same flavours, and some people even prefer the taste of a good zero beer to a regular one. 

The lack of alcohol can let the natural flavours shine a bit more, especially in sours, bitters, ciders, and even IPA’s.

Yes, non-alcoholic beer is actually quite tasty. It’s not as strong as regular beer, and it doesn’t have the same “mouth feel” that you get with regular beers. 

However, this means that non-alcoholic beers can be enjoyed by people who don’t like beer or alcohol in general.

Mouthfeel.

Mouthfeel of a beer is what we experience from a physical perspective when the drink is in our mouth. The fizz, the thickness, the viscosity, and the general overall texture on our tongue.

This can make or break or a good beer for some people.

Whereas others might be more interested to the flavours that hit their tongue, the mouth feel can sometimes seem a little bit “off” in zero beers. 

This can be a psychological issue, as well as how the ethanol releases the aroma in an actual beer, whereas the lower ethanol in a low-alcohol beer can interact differently with the taste buds.

You may have heard that non-alcoholic beers taste watered down or flat. But you’d be surprised how well these brews can stand up to the real thing. 

A lot of breweries are making great strides in this area, but you won’t always get that same mouthfeel to a beer’s alcoholic counterpart.

At least not yet.

The Future Of Zero Beer?

Breweries big and small are now hoping to capitalize on the growing interest in zero & low beers by launching new non-alcoholic beers.

Both variants of popular beers and new waves of zero beers that can hold their own in taste and style.

It is one of the fastest expanding segments of the global beer trade, and sales are expected to reach $25 billion by 2024. 

This growth can be attributed to the changing drinking habits of young people, who are increasingly opting for low or no-alcohol options.

Have You Tried Zero Beers?

Things have changed massively in recent years, and we have brewers putting out some extremely flavoursome zero beers. 

What have you tried and tested? Which ones have reserved a spot in your fridge, and what needs to be in ours?

Feel free to share in the comments.

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