Best Non-Alcoholic Beer

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by ZionNation, Aug 5, 2013.

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  1. ZionNation

    ZionNation Initiate (0) Jun 24, 2013 Arizona

    I know this is probably anathema to mention on Beer Advocate. But I do go through periods where I don't want any alcohol and I have noticed that a non-alcoholic beer can fill me up with the same carbs as a real beer. I have a theory that with regards to beer, the carbs and sugars are half of what makes you so happy, the alcohol is only part of the equation and for those few occasions when I don't want alcohol or during periods when I am trying to go alcohol free for a few days or even a few weeks, I like the non-alcoholic beers. I have found that Kaliber by Guinness is the best. Then St. Pauli and Beck's are next, and they seem almost indistinguishable like the real beers from these brewers. O'Doull's is awful. And Paulaner makes one that is not good. any others?
    SColl likes this.
  2. fritts211

    fritts211 Aspirant (210) Feb 19, 2011 Tennessee
    Beer Trader

    If you're looking for carbs and sugar, maybe try soda.

    Can't say I've had a non-alcoholic beer I've liked. They're just all varying degrees of suck IMO. Kaliber may suck the least though.
    JrGtr and SammyJaxxxx like this.
  3. deadliest

    deadliest Initiate (0) Jun 4, 2009 Texas

    I was gonna say water. But if you want carbs and sugar then maybe a donut.

    But seriously. Kaliber that you already mentioned is the only NA beer I've had that I didn't think was terrible.
    JrGtr and SammyJaxxxx like this.
  4. Olek4374

    Olek4374 Initiate (0) Apr 23, 2013 Alberta (Canada)

    Labatt Blue NA is actually very tasty. Certainly better than regular Labatt Blue.
    BedetheVenerable likes this.
  5. machalel

    machalel Aspirant (298) Jan 19, 2012 Australia

    Most beer has very little carbs and very little sugar.

    Have you tried Club Malz? It's not really non-alcoholic beer, more like wort-tasting soft drink. :stuck_out_tongue:
  6. VictorWisc

    VictorWisc Devotee (463) Jan 2, 2013 Massachusetts

    Bud Light... OH, sorry! You said beer!

    Then Buckler. Beats the pants off Kaliber (despite the fact that Grolsch now is SABMiller).
  7. AlienSwineFlu

    AlienSwineFlu Disciple (384) Dec 14, 2012 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    People actually drink that?
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  8. VictorWisc

    VictorWisc Devotee (463) Jan 2, 2013 Massachusetts

    Right about sugar and carbs--if the beer's any good. The calories are mostly from alcohol.

    As for sweet malty crap that fills you up, there's always Malta, particularly Malta Goya--like a Baltic sweet stout hybrid without any alcohol. You can find it in almost any supermarket in the US that has a Latino section and carries Goya goods.
  9. HeelsandEers

    HeelsandEers Initiate (0) Jun 8, 2013 West Virginia

    I don't even....
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  10. VictorWisc

    VictorWisc Devotee (463) Jan 2, 2013 Massachusetts

    He did not ask about people... he asked about non-alcoholic "beer".
  11. Spikester

    Spikester Poo-Bah (1,837) Jul 14, 2007 Oregon

    Clausthaler premium "extra herb" on bottle cap. Quite full flavored for the style. A cheapie is Old Milwaukie N/A brewed by Schlitz in Wisconsin. Actually has some Schlitz character.
  12. ZionNation

    ZionNation Initiate (0) Jun 24, 2013 Arizona

    oh right Buckler and Cluasthaler are decent too. sure the NA beer is not the real deal, but the good ones are good and certainly do not suck.

    as far as I understand and I am no chemist but carps are sugars, and grains are sugars or carbs. beer has a ton of carbs. the more carbs or grain the more fermentable sugars, the higher the alcohol, the higher the calories. yep, that sounds about right to me.
  13. YogiBeer

    YogiBeer Initiate (0) May 10, 2012 Illinois

    Bro, this is BA... No place for science. Rage and wild opinions are fine, though.
  14. VictorWisc

    VictorWisc Devotee (463) Jan 2, 2013 Massachusetts

    Oh, my head!

    You're right... you should have stopped with "I'm no chemist".
  15. tr9871

    tr9871 Initiate (0) Apr 14, 2013 Alabama

    I've been tempted to try some NA beers lately.. But I keep spending my hard earned money on real beer. I'm not against the concept though. I just don't think I wouldn't regret it.
  16. Budinetz

    Budinetz Defender (639) Dec 29, 2010 Pennsylvania

    Even though it may say N/A on the bottle, It is still considered beer due to the simple fact that it is brewed the same way and DOES contain a small amount of alcohol (most are .5%). Beer = malt/barley, hops, water, yeast.... sugars contained in the wort (water "hot liquor during the sparge", malt/barley, hops) are eaten by the yeast and the yeast secretes alcohol and carbonation during the fermentation process, thus creating beer. During the brewing process they most likely do not sparge very much, which can keep a lot of the sugars from the malt out of the wort and they may also prevent fermentation from occurring for very long, resulting in some carbonation, but very little alcohol. Still considered beer even if it is called non-alcoholic...Malta is just malt flavored soda basically, not brewed as a beer is, although it is quite tasty.

    In any event, Clausthaler is half decent and Kaliber is also not too bad...Definitely not worth purchasing an entire case of the stuff in my opinion. Bottle shops carry them all over if you are curious.
  17. Crusader

    Crusader Aspirant (224) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    I've tried a range of non-alcoholic beers and come away from the experience with the opinion that they're no real substitute for stronger beers. The best that I've had would be a Swedish macro brand which is hopped with Citra hops, it's got a nice citrusy touch to it but it is still sort of balanced by the (weak) malts. It would seem as though adding some American hop flavors to a NA beer can produce a semi-decent end product.

    Brew Dog's Nanny State on the other hand is all about the hops but has virtually no malt taste or body and comes off as unbalanced for that reason. It's more of a hop-tea than a beer. Clausthaler has a strange taste to it, and it doesn't taste like a beer in my opinion. Jever Fun tastes more like a beer, but is very weak in its flavor. I'm no stranger to drinking 2.8% and 3.5% lager beers and find that beers of that alcoholic strenght can still provide a pleasant, albeit light taste, but non-alcoholic beers simply do not deliver on taste imo. Even the 2.1% beers they sell here have more flavor to grab on to than NA beers.
  18. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,291) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    That'd be some well-aged near beer, :grimacing: since the Schlitz brewery in Milwaukee closed in 1981, and the company went out of business the following year, purchased by Stroh in 1982. Old Milwaukee is now a Pabst-marketed brand, brewed by MillerCoors in its regional breweries (the coding on the bottle/can notes the specific brewery).

    The percentage of alcohol has no bearing on the definition of "beer" - "malt beverage" in US Federal TTB llegalese (Chapter 4):

    Legally in the US "Non-alcoholic" beer - aka "cereal beverage" or "near beer" - must be "less than 0.5% alcohol by volume" (Chapter 1, same source as linked above). In addition there are some malt beverages that have no alcohol and are legally labeled "Alcohol free".

    Traditionally (dating back to the pre- and Prohibition era), in the US, most NA's are brewed as normal beers, and after fermentation and lagering is the alcohol removed.
  19. utopiajane

    utopiajane Poo-Bah (2,477) Jun 11, 2013 New York

    Goya also makes a ginger beer that has a strong bite and is flavorful.
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  20. VictorWisc

    VictorWisc Devotee (463) Jan 2, 2013 Massachusetts

    Whole Foods, depending on location, carries about a half-dozen artisanal ginger beers, some quite strong, but most with more interesting flavor profile than Goya. Reed's is generally way too sweet (unless you mix it with rum), but something like Maine Root is more of a dancer. Goya is mixable if you're used to it, but is kind of harsh otherwise. I "grew up" on Old Tyme and DG, so Goya (and Reed and Gosling) are just not the same. I'm not even sure Old Tyme still exists, which is why the new breed of artisanal ones is quite important. Unfortunately, some of them cost more than good beer.
  21. Hopbomber

    Hopbomber Initiate (0) Mar 4, 2013 United Kingdom (England)

    Brewdog- Nanny State is 0.5%, and surprisingly good; it's probably hard to get and expensive stateside unfortunately.
    pixieskid likes this.
  22. Darwin553

    Darwin553 Initiate (68) Jan 5, 2009 Australia

  23. VictorWisc

    VictorWisc Devotee (463) Jan 2, 2013 Massachusetts

  24. LaneMeyer

    LaneMeyer Initiate (0) Mar 20, 2011 California

    Clausthaler and Buckler for sure. I quit drinking for some years and those were the only two that satisfied my craving for beer.
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  25. Dtapeski

    Dtapeski Initiate (152) Oct 26, 2012 Colorado

    Was going to suggest the same thing, so +1 on the Malta Goya.
  26. 5thOhio

    5thOhio Zealot (523) May 13, 2007 South Carolina

    My favorite quote about NA, aka Near Beer, which I like to throw down whenever the topic appears:

    "The man who called it near beer wasn't a very good judge of distance."---Mark Twain
  27. Budinetz

    Budinetz Defender (639) Dec 29, 2010 Pennsylvania

    Not sure what you are trying to say here...Thanks for backing up my post with historical and actual facts I suppose?

    In the end it's's beer...low abv or high abv....still beer. And actually, The US Federal government has their regulations and "classifications" of beer styles set up according to ABV for ales and lagers...If you look at some imported beers, they must change the abv when importing to the US in order to classify as an ale as apposed to a lager, because even though an ALE is top fermented at a warmer temp and LAGER is bottom fermented at a cooler temp, the US federal Government would rather "classify" certain brews as "malt beverage" or "lager" even though it may be TOP fermented and is indeed an ALE...SOOO...the breweries that import will sometimes end up being higher abv than their original brew, distributed overseas (depending on what country). This mainly pertains to europe, but also take into consideration that most European countries will calculate their alcohol by weight or ABW as apposed to our (US) alcohol by volume or ABV...many factors to consider.
  28. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,291) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    You are confusing individual state regulations in the US (primarily and infamously Texas', which where recently changed*) with Federal TTB regulations. Check out the same link as above, The Beverage Alcohol Manual (BAM)
    Chapter 4- all the ABV's specs for US's "Beer Classes & Types" are either "0.5% or more alcohol by volume" or, for non-alcoholic beer, "less than 0.5% alcohol by volume".

    * Texas, which charges different excise tax rates for beer over 4% abw, once required such "mislabeling" because their TABC regulation states:
    Because Texas is such a huge beer market in the US, many brewers and importers over the years choose to print "one size fits all" labels, rather than have separate labels for that state.

    A court decision recently ended that label requirement -
    TABC Issues Interim Guidelines After Jester King Verdict
    ...but it will probably take a while for those "Ale (Malt liquor) in Texas" labels to disappear from the market.
    steveh likes this.
  29. McStagger

    McStagger Crusader (785) Jun 2, 2005 California

    Gerstel has always been a favorite near beer of mine. It's my no guilt beer that I drink in the am or before work.
    EddieR411 likes this.
  30. Budinetz

    Budinetz Defender (639) Dec 29, 2010 Pennsylvania

    Yea, I get that...everything varies from state to state, not just import laws. What I am saying is that the importers must change their abv in order to export their beer to the United states entirely, and or way they brew the beer in order to import it as an ale, or lager depending upon the abv... Buy a beer in London, England that is classified as a porter...a dark "ale" that is top clocks in at 4.4% america it will now be considered a malt beverage OR they will raise the abv to 5% to import and still be considered an ale, due to the fact that the US considers anything over 5% an ale and anything under a lager/malt beverage...
  31. ScottyG

    ScottyG Initiate (0) Jul 12, 2013 Michigan

    What the.....
    Never had one and never will!! I do not want a mangina to start forming!!! LOL
  32. Rare_Man

    Rare_Man Initiate (0) May 15, 2013 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    If you truly want a beer with no alcohol at all, go with this offering from San Miguel:


    It has less than 0.0 wt.% alcohol (interesting fact, there is less alcohol in this beer than a can of Coke). Considering that it goes through a distillation column, it tastes quite decent for an AL (actually get a satisfying malt/hops combo). Good luck finding it, I do know that San Miguel does have some US distribution as I have seen it on shelves in Chicago.
  33. VictorWisc

    VictorWisc Devotee (463) Jan 2, 2013 Massachusetts

    I believe it's the opposite--US has traditionally been the place that used ABW but the practice has been abandoned as things have become more standardized. Some laws referring to ABW are still on the books in some US states (Texas?) but you're not likely to see it on the label.
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  34. semibaked

    semibaked Zealot (573) Mar 27, 2007 Illinois

    Clausthaler and Clausthaler Amber
  35. TrojanRB

    TrojanRB Meyvn (1,153) Jul 27, 2013 California
    Premium Member Beer Trader

    You are correct - US was ABW, Europe was ABV. This is the reason why many people mistakenly believe that German beer has higher alcohol content.
    VictorWisc likes this.
  36. RobbW

    RobbW Initiate (0) Aug 26, 2013 Illinois

    I understand that pretty much everyone here is a die-hard "regular" beer fan. I see a lot of comments like "Haven't tried it and never would" or that drinking N/A beer would sprout a mangina. I'd guess that you'd be amazed at how many people actually drink N/A for whatever reason. And it is an unfortunate fact that not too many breweries even give N/A a thought.

    I voluntarily quit drinking 2+ years ago. Alcoholism runs strong in my family and has already killed one relative and nearly two others. I decided to cut it off before it became a problem for me.

    I used to be hardcore into wine. Pinot Noir was a favorite. After I quit drinking, I looked for N/A wines to try and calm the cravings. N/A wine sucks worse that Sharps or O'Douls! I don't know why it's impossible for anyone to create a halfway decent N/A wine, but they just don't exist. So, I looked to N/A beer. Back in my drinking days, I used to enjoy the occasional beer, but wasn't that big into it, preferring wine instead. However, the beer industry actually has a few halfway decent N/A beers. I just wish someone would put a little effort into making even better N/As. Just because there are those of us who either don't want to drink alcohol or cannot drink alcohol for whatever reason, does not mean we do not enjoy the taste of a good beer. I have often considered trying my hand at brewing my own N/A beer and starting a craft N/A beer niche market.

    With all that said, of the small handful of N/As that I have been able to find, there are a few that aren't too bad, and one or two that are pretty decent. I prefer Clausthaler, not because it is the best N/A, but mainly because it is the one decent N/A I can almost always find. St. Pauli N/A is pretty good, too. Becks N/A is hit or miss. Most of the time when I buy it at the store and drink it at home, it has a bit of a skunky smell and taste to it. However, just yesterday I was at Navy Pier in Chicago. There was one vendor that had N/A beer and it was Becks. They had it in bottles and poured it into a plastic cup. For whatever reason, it actually tasted pretty darn good. Better than any of the Becks I had ever had. I don't know if they just had fresher bottles, or if it was the plastic cup, or it it was simply because I was walking around Navy Pier on a beautiful day enjoying a cold one. Tonight, I found a new N/A that I have never seen before. It was labeled a new import at Binny's Beverage Depot. It is called Krombacher Weizen. I'm just waiting for it to chill a bit before I crack it open. If anyone is actually interested in N/A beer (someone must have been to start this thread), I'll be happy to report back with my opinion.

    Worst N/As in my opinion are Sharps and O'Douls. They basically taste like beer-flavored water; WEAKLY beer-flavored water. When I'm out at a restaurant and ask if they have N/A, if they offer Sharps or O'Douls, I simply go with a Diet Coke. I can't stand them. Now, Sharps Amber is slightly better, and I will accept that in a pinch. I don't really care for Kaliber by Guiness. I know others have cited it as one of the better N/As, but to me it tastes like an N/A beer that they went and added a lot of carmel flavoring (or is that malt flavoring) to it. Something just tastes artificial to it (and I don't just mean fake beer).

    Anyway, if anyone has any real recommendations for N/A beer (other than drink Goya), I would appreciate the input. And for those that responded negatively about N/A beers (especially the mangina comment), try to be respectful. Someone started a thread specifically about best N/A beers and asked for suggestions on others to try. If you don't have anything positive or pertinent to add to the thread, just don't add anything. If you don't or never would drink N/A beer, why even post a comment, especially if it is negative and/or borderline offensive? You simply come off as immature and trollish.
  37. ghostly

    ghostly Initiate (0) Mar 7, 2011 New York

    Einbecker is pretty good. Clausthaler Premium, too. I'm not crazy about Clausthaler Amber (and watch out for skunking from green bottles for both). But Einbecker is what most good places here in NYC tend to carry.
  38. RobbW

    RobbW Initiate (0) Aug 26, 2013 Illinois

    I'm trying to remember if I've had Einbecker or not. It's possible. Sometimes I can't put the names with the packaging offhand. Next time I'm at my local beverage depot, I'll look for it. Once I see the packaging, I'm pretty sure I'll remember if I've had it. Unfortunately, that doesn't necessarily mean I'll remember if I liked it or not. Of course, that's just an excuse to try it again!

    Yeah, I'm not too big on the Clausthaler Amber either. Much prefer the original. I finally tried the new Krombacher Weizen I got tonight. My first impression? It's okay. Mostly a positive opinion. However, much like a rich cheesecake, I couldn't have too much of it in one sitting. It is very hoppy and has a sweet, spicy flavor. The most dominant flavor is banana. I had read this in some reviews, and they were right. It definitely has a very strong banana flavor to it. With the other spice notes combined with the banana, the overall flavor actually reminds me of Juicy Fruit chewing gum. So, it was a good tasting beer, but to sweet and fruity for me to consume in large quantities.
  39. BurgeoningBrewhead

    BurgeoningBrewhead Initiate (0) Jul 18, 2012 Pennsylvania

    Isn't that kind of like asking "what's the best non-meat burger?"
    But seriously, I haven't actually tried any besides Malta Goya. Back then I wasn't into beer, tried it because I had a "weird soda" phase. It tasted weird.
  40. BeerWizard

    BeerWizard Aspirant (287) Dec 22, 2012 Colorado

    I thought Beck's was good out of all the NA's I tried when my wife was pregnant. There was a lot of hype over Clausthauler (as much "hype" as you can get over an NA) but it was hard to find, kind of expensive, and still tasted like an NA to me, anyway. I actually heard the Paulaner one was good, but I never found it.

    I suggest finding a low alcohol real beer and drinking that. I felt like I was just drinking cokes or something with the NA's, and I don't drink no cokes.
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