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Alcoholic vs Non-alcoholic beer: What’s the difference?

It’s no secret that low and non-alcoholic beer sales have surged dramatically in recent years, thanks to consistent changes in our drinking habits and the availability of more high-quality beers under 0.5 percent ABV. "What's the point of non-alcoholic beer?" many people still seem to be asking? Many are unaware of the numerous benefits of non-alcoholic beer, including its insanely long list of health benefits. So let's compare the difference between non-alcoholic beer and alcoholic beer.

Alcohol content in Non-Alcoholic and Alcoholic Beers

There are many differences between non-alcoholic and alcoholic beer, the main being the taste and the fact that one has alcohol and one does not. The amount of alcohol in alcoholic and alcohol-free beer is the primary distinction. Alcoholic beers include alcohol typically between 1.15 and 15 percent ABV, whereas alcohol free beer has a much lower percentage of alcohol, usually less than 0.5 percent ABV (in some cases as low as 0.001percent). This is due to the fact that some alcohol is produced naturally during the brewing process. The alcohol content in a non-alcoholic beer is so low, it cannot be detected by most people. A drink's alcohol content is expressed as a percentage of the total volume. Alcohol by Volume shall be displayed on all alcoholic beverage labels (ABV). A beer with a 5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) on the label contains 5 percent pure alcohol.

The amount of calories in both types of beer differs depending on the amount of unfermented carbohydrates present, which varies from one type to another depending on how it was produced. Alcoholic beverages contain about seven kcal (calories) per gram, while non-alcoholic drinks have only four kcal/g due to their lack of alcohol and sugar content.

What's the difference in taste?

It's important to mention that the taste of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beers vary significantly. Most people seem to prefer the taste of alcoholic beers, but this is simply because they are more accustomed to them. Non-alcoholic beers have come a long way in recent years and are now being produced with high-quality ingredients, which results in an improved flavour profile. Some people believe that the lower alcohol content in non-alcoholic beers make them less satisfying, but this is simply not true. The biggest factor that affects the taste is the brewing process and the ingredients used. Taste is a subjective matter, so you'll have to try it for yourself.

Are the non alcoholic beers and alcoholic ones brewed the same way?

Both beers are created almost identically but the brewing process for both types of beer is different. The majority of alcoholic beers are brewed using top-fermenting yeast strains, while most mainstream non-alcoholic beers are made with lager yeast strains. This is one of the reasons why non-alcoholic beers have a slightly sweeter taste than alcoholic ones. The fermentation process also has an impact on the taste of beer. For example, lager yeast strains are a bottom-fermenting yeast and ferment more slowly than top-fermenting yeasts, which is why they're generally used to produce alcohol free beers. Nowadays, the technology used to reduce the alcohol content has developed significantly and made it possible to brew new alcohol free beer styles like pale ales, IPAs and stouts that can taste as good as the alcoholic ones, if not better! In some cases, it may even be difficult to distinguish between the two, making it a great choice for anyone who is looking to limit their alcohol consumption.

Manufacturers can reduce the alcohol content of their beer in two ways. They can either remove alcohol from the final product or prevent it from forming during the brewing process. Heat is one of the most frequent methods for removing alcohol from beer. Another option is to run the beer through a filter to remove the alcohol. This is another main difference in alcoholic vs non-alcoholic beer, they are created almost the same, but there is a key difference in their production. 

Health benefits of non-alcoholic beer

So, probably the biggest question on people's mind, non-alcoholic vs alcoholic beer health benefits. Well, some are obvious, but some may surprise you! Non-alcoholic beer can drastically help you drink fewer drinks each week, take a short break, or completely give it up all together. It's also a much more classy option than a soft drink or hot drink. Because your body links the flavour and smell of full-strength beer with non-alcoholic beer, it is a good substitute for alcoholic beverages. This is all because it creates dopamine, which is the same chemical that makes you feel good after drinking alcohol. Secondly, it can help you ‘fit in’. Firstly, why do we live in a society where drinking is more normal than not drinking? Regardless, there are many situations in which not drinking alcohol might make you feel on the outs, particularly if you're nursing yet another lime and soda or cheap orange juice. Non-alcoholic alternatives can aid in this situation. And finally, non-alcoholic beer and other drinks have to be one of the healthiest drinks offered behind the bar because of its numerous health benefits. Alcohol-free drinks, for example, can lower your risk of heart disease, improve your sleep, boost bone growth, and minimise your chance of infections like the common cold.

Can you get drunk from non alcoholic beer?

No, you cannot get drunk from non-alcoholic beer. The alcohol has been removed or reduced to a level (usually less than 0.5% ABV) that will not get you drunk. This is another key difference between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beers. Non alcoholic beers will not make you drunk!

Flavours of non-alcoholic beer

The best part about alcohol free beer is that it tastes almost identical to the real thing, and they replicate all the delicious, hop filled flavours of beer. From IPA’s to lagers, there is everything under the sun. Some top performing alcohol-free beer brands that have been dominating the market due to their perfect blend and combinations include Heaps Normal, Big Drop, Nort, Upflow, and Athletic Brew Co, along with plenty more. 

Alcoholic vs non alcoholic beer: What’s your choice?

In conclusion, alcohol free beer is a fantastic way to take a break from drinking, or even just cutting back on the amount of alcohol you consume each week. It can help improve your overall health and well being (including sleep quality), and is an easy way to sip away at your favourite flavours in moderation. Now you know what the differences between these two types of beers are, what will you choose? Alcoholic beer or non alcoholic beer?

1 Comment

  • I stopped drinking alcoholic drinks almost 3yrs ago now … the main thing I missed for the first year or so was the flavour of a nice craft beer, particularly Pale Ales which were always my favourite. It’s been great over the last 18 months or so seeing more and more Craft NA Beers popping up. The “Heaps Normal Quiet XPA” is probably my “go to” favourite.

    Shane Mott on

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