Is the recent explosion of NA beers a fad or long-term trend?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by IPAExpert69, Nov 12, 2021.


Do you buy NA beers?

  1. Yes, and they rock

    18 vote(s)
  2. Yes, but they leave much to be desired

    19 vote(s)
  3. No, they lose me at "non-alcoholic"

    43 vote(s)
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  1. Reidrover

    Reidrover Grand Pooh-Bah (4,605) Jan 14, 2003 Oregon
    Pooh-Bah Society

    Have to look out. Calories are not my main concern though as a diabetic its low carb i seek. And according to the NHS diabetic info low alcohol beers are generally less carb than NAs.
    Finding some nice enough beers at 4 carbs or under per 12 oz. Fave right now is Kona Light Golden Ale.
  2. Rug

    Rug Pooh-Bah (2,898) Aug 20, 2018 Massachusetts
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    Here's a pretty interesting video related to the topic where this guy did his dry January by switching to all NA beers
    PapaGoose03, eppCOS and Harrison8 like this.
  3. Providence

    Providence Pooh-Bah (2,376) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    Alcohol addiction isn't a passing fad. They are here to stay. I think it's great. I have several people in my life who don't drink alcohol but still like the ritual of having a brew. And they want something decent. These products are a perfect match for them.

    But I ain't drinking them, fuck that. Calories count and if I'm drinking calories they better come with the added benefit of a buzz.
  4. gatornation

    gatornation Grand High Pooh-Bah (8,822) Apr 18, 2007 Florida
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    Currently over 1000 beers in the Low Alcohol category (NA) on BA most at .5 ABV. I too have seen shelve full of new entries on stores lately ,would defiantly try a few as a change up or break from full ABV brews.
  5. jesskidden

    jesskidden Pooh-Bah (2,969) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    I wouldn't trust that ABV for many of them. US labeling law states that "Non-Alcoholic" beers must be "less than 0.5" and labeled as such.
    Some are less than the upper limit (AB's Beck's NA, for instance, is listed at "0.05%" and O'Doul's used to be listed as "0.4%" on AB's site. For some reason AB no longer lists the actual percentage of residual alcohol in its US brewed NAs and Molson Coors just states "< 0.5" for theirs.)

    Note, too, that unlike BA, the Feds in the US differentiate "Low Alcohol" and "Non-Alcoholic" beer.
    #45 jesskidden, Nov 13, 2021
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2021
  6. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Pooh-Bah (1,559) Aug 24, 2020 California

    Great point. I had not previously considered the number of carbs because I feel like (maybe erroneously) that I understand calories more than carbs. I checked a random can of one of the Athletic IPAs and it clocked in at 20 gms carbs but only 85 calories. Then I checked a website that tabulated ABV, calories, and carbs (when known) of many common beers. It seems they were often in the 8-14 carbs range but calories were typically 130-200 range. So if my quest is for something that moderates weight gain, how do I balance the calories vs. the carbs? Maybe @Harrison8 can enlighten me (please), since he seems to be among some of the more health conscious on these forums.
    Harrison8 likes this.
  7. dbrauneis

    dbrauneis Grand High Pooh-Bah (7,550) Dec 8, 2007 North Carolina
    Super Mod Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    I really wanted an answer somewhere between “Yes - they rock” and “Yes - they leave much to be desired” as I buy them sometimes not always and some are good and some not so good (like all beer).
  8. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Grand Pooh-Bah (5,609) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    I apologize. I can't really relate to this. Most of my health concerns are over training well for a marathon. Based on the amount of mileage I do, and my metabolism, carbs and calories usually aren't a concern. In fact, I tend to consume extra beer to make up for my deficient in calories (I both hate cooking and eating enough to make up the gap.)

    My only general understanding of carbs vs. calories, are: carbs are all (at some point) sugar in the blood stream. If you are concerned about your blood sugar levels, experiencing spikes and crashes in blood sugar, diabetic, or trying to maintain a state of ketosis - then carbs are extremely important.

    Calories a more high level measurement, including carbs in their calculation. If your concern is weight management, then net zero calories (burning off as much as you consume, or vice versa) is the goal. If you wish to lose weight, then negative calories consumed to burned is the goal.

    This, of course, is all broad information and not from a medical expert. Should you be concerned about your blood sugar levels, carb and/or calorie intake, or trying to lose/gain weight, I would consult a medical expert.

    Again, my biggest take away from NA beer is the improvement in my sleep pattern (allowing better recovery) and removing another dehydration source from my diet (promoting better recovery, and daily awareness.)
    tigg924 and BillAfromSoCal like this.
  9. gatornation

    gatornation Grand High Pooh-Bah (8,822) Apr 18, 2007 Florida
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    My thought also I want a distinction between Alcohol Free and Low alcohol.
    Harrison8 likes this.
  10. beer_beer

    beer_beer Pooh-Bah (2,115) Feb 13, 2018 Finland
    Pooh-Bah Society

    On BA everything below 1% is "low alcohol". The practical universal consensus is 0.5% or below is NA. Unfortunately 0.0% on BA can't be registered, so most of the "?" ABV beers are those in the low alcohol category.
    BillAfromSoCal likes this.
  11. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Pooh-Bah (1,559) Aug 24, 2020 California

    thanks for that. I'm lucky....I have zero health issues and I'm neither trying to gain or loose weight...just trying to maintain same weight while enjoying daily beer (or 2). Sounds like watching the calories is a decent strategy for me, which is nice because I am really enjoying some of the limited release beers, lower calorie beers from Athletic...despite their higher carbs.
    Harrison8 likes this.
  12. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Grand Pooh-Bah (5,609) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    It's all about balance. If you want to get real technical, you should maintain a proper balance of 'macros', i.e. fat, carbs, and protein. It's possible ingesting more carbs would result in weight gain, as you're throwing your macros out of wack. In general though, I'd just look at calories unless you have a medical or macro need to limit carbs. Should you start ingesting more carb heavy beers and find your weight fluctuates for the worst, then it's probably time to limit or consider your carb ingestion.

    Some people's bodies go pretty wild with carbs, resulting in weight gain without really elevating outside of the abnormal calorie range. Something to keep in mind.

    As a long distance runner myself, and one who has never practiced on low calories or a state of ketosis, I do not count or consider carbs.
    gatornation and BillAfromSoCal like this.
  13. IPAExpert69

    IPAExpert69 Savant (1,065) Aug 2, 2017 Pennsylvania

    This would be an interesting thread
    Rug likes this.
  14. PrimustheOne

    PrimustheOne Devotee (377) Nov 23, 2016 New Hampshire

    No thanks. If I want a non alcoholic beverage, I'll just grab a soda.
  15. dele

    dele Crusader (478) Mar 13, 2019 Massachusetts

    I love the idea of NA beers and I have tried a few. It'd be great to mix in a NA beer every now and then to reduce alcohol consumption while still enjoying the flavor and sociability that comes with drinking beer.

    The problem is that to me, all the available options, including the bigger names like Athletic Brewing, taste terrible. Some styles have some good hop or other flavors at the start of a sip, but whether it's an IPA, stout, or lager, all have an extremely offputting vegetal, wet rag flavor underneath everything else that typically shows up after the other, nicer flavors. It's as if somebody steeped a bunch of wet leaves in the beer before canning the product.

    Since every NA beer I've tried across multiple styles and producers has this off note, it must be endemic to the NA brewing process. The brewer that can get rid of it will get a good chunk of my money.
    spersichilli, Rug and PapaGoose03 like this.
  16. BigIronH

    BigIronH Grand Pooh-Bah (3,526) Oct 31, 2019 Michigan
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    Out of curiosity, what is the health issue at hand that depends on you quitting either caffeine or alcohol completely?
  17. bubseymour

    bubseymour Grand Pooh-Bah (4,584) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    I guess I need to taste some of these new ones being made before I voice opinions, Odouls from 1995 is my last tasting.
    Harrison8 likes this.
  18. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Pooh-Bah (1,559) Aug 24, 2020 California

    it was a tachycardia event several yrs ago that landed me a ride in an ambulance to the ER. Doc said there were uncertain causes but told me to quit alcohol and caffeine. I told him to pick one, in view of how uncertain the data were. Quitting caffeine was easy despite having been a BIG consumer of coffee. I have not had to use an alarm clock since then and I sleep better, etc.
    cavedave, Harrison8 and BigIronH like this.
  19. Celtics76

    Celtics76 Pooh-Bah (1,707) Sep 5, 2011 Rhode Island

    I was hardcore into NA beers for about 3 weeks earlier this year. Many of them were quite drinkable. I had one called Victory Citrus Wheat from WellBeing that had electrolytes. Made for a great post-workout beverage. Plenty of great options, I just can't get into them on a regular basis at this time.
    BillAfromSoCal, Harrison8 and Rug like this.
  20. moodenba

    moodenba Pooh-Bah (1,651) Feb 2, 2015 New York
    Pooh-Bah Society

    NA beers could be useful during a night out on the town. Finding a bar that stocks a good one will be a problem. For me, taking home a six pack of NA isn't a first priority. At home, I'm drinking maybe one or two moderate strength beers a day, In the 80's I was homebrewing, and also exploring ways to decrease consumption. I brewed a "Dark Beer Additive" DBA that was mostly dark malt and hops, with moderate alcohol and very little carbonation. I would add an ounce or two of the DBA to a pale NA beer, usually Birell from Matts). This gave a drink of about 1% alcohol that was fairly drinkable.
  21. NickTheGreat

    NickTheGreat Maven (1,324) Oct 28, 2010 Iowa
    Society Trader

    I'd admit that I'd drink N/A if it tasted and felt exactly the same as regular beer.

    I may have not gotten to this point in my life, of liking beer so much, if not for the alcohol.

    But then again, I generally drink decaf coffee . . .
    Harrison8 and Rug like this.
  22. jesskidden

    jesskidden Pooh-Bah (2,969) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    My favorite esp. when it was brewed by Ortlieb - IIRC, the wort was based on their version of McSorley's fermented with Hurlimann's proprietary yeast.

    I would occasionally mix it with a malta brewed by The Lion (Goya the easiest to find) for an NA "Black & Tan" but there's something about that Malta flavor that you can't hide. :slight_frown:

    Always forget the chronology of Birell in the US - I think Schmidt's did it, too (I guess between Ortlieb and Matt, picking up the contact with the rest of the O's brands?) and Heileman ruined it - they just did not like hops over there.
    moodenba and Rug like this.
  23. Crusader

    Crusader Pooh-Bah (1,589) Feb 4, 2011 Sweden

    This made me think of an excerpt from an interview with Ted Marti on his time with the brewery which was somewhat comical I thought and worth sharing:

    Struck me as funny, and also made me wonder how common this was back in the day among the old guard so to speak.
    moodenba and jesskidden like this.
  24. JrGtr

    JrGtr Pooh-Bah (1,639) Apr 13, 2006 Massachusetts

    I haven't bought any |NA beers, but I've tried a bunch of them at a few tastings / fests (mostly before "all this") and some were surprisingly good.
    Like some others have mentioned, I do like drinking, but as |I've gotten older, I don't like getting drunk.Especially since it takes way longer to recover than it used to.
    But I also don't have the metabolism I used to. I used to be skinny as a rail, no\w my six-pack is more like a sixtel. I have been trying to cut back on beer and snacks to get rid of it, with a bit of success.
  25. Tucquan

    Tucquan Grand Pooh-Bah (3,000) Oct 11, 2007 Pennsylvania
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    I agree, the Athletic Brewery beers are a cut above for NA beers. They won two medals in their category at GABF this year.
  26. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Pooh-Bah (1,559) Aug 24, 2020 California

    I agree. I actually had lunch at a spot that had an outstanding list of beers including a small selection of NA. Even though I did not order NA that day, I went out of my way to tell the manager that I appreciated his inclusion of NA in the menu and I made a couple recommendations of ones he could consider adding or using to swap out the ones he had.
  27. mgross50

    mgross50 Initiate (0) Apr 15, 2004 New York

    I totally agree with you, ALL of the NA beers have a funkiness to them. There are much better NA beers than they used to be and some of the really terrible ones (O'douls / Sharps) are still around. I have recently tried some of the Athletic beers and was not impressed. Those had a real bad aftertaste.
    The best I have tried are the Brooklyn NAs, Heineken is good, along with Genesee NA as a cheapo.
    To me they are all have a detectable aftertaste.
    PapaGoose03 likes this.
  28. Chaz

    Chaz Grand Pooh-Bah (3,532) Feb 3, 2002 Minnesota
    Pooh-Bah Society Trader

    How long have NA beers been around, and what constitutes a fad?

    Too many words — In didn’t read it all, but it has some interesting pitchers:

    In all seriousness, it is NOT a fad. It has been around since even before Prohibition:

    Remember, kids: Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean someone else doesn’t, too.

    And just because a product or market segment has no place in your headspace or lifestyle, does not make it a fad.
    BillAfromSoCal and Harrison8 like this.
  29. moodenba

    moodenba Pooh-Bah (1,651) Feb 2, 2015 New York
    Pooh-Bah Society

    My impression was that brewmasters in the employ of American pale lager breweries were often trained to brew a narrow range of products. Lager beer, prestige lager (like Michelob), bock beer, cream ale, with exceptions, tasted pretty much alike. I drank some Schell's Deer Brand in the 70s and didn't think it was much different from other lagers (neither more or less hoppy). In fact their bock didn't taste much different either. Some breweries employed outside consultants to develop really different products, probably due to the lack of in-house knowledge or interest.
    Crusader likes this.
  30. Specialmick

    Specialmick Pooh-Bah (1,686) Aug 26, 2019 Connecticut

    I agree. I started drinking them this spring and summer to cut a few pounds and little to my dismay the carb counts were not as high but close and even more than a Bud heavy lol. Although some were pretty good they are limited to me so far in taste. I was drinking a few of the Athletic Brewing's beers and saw the carb count at 17 15 per 12 oz beers. The calories don't bother me i can burn them more easily. Not a bad option when you are thirsty in the summertime but overall the jury is still out for me on how good they really are!!! I have found that the lower cal alcoholic beers were better and for me, it is not about the alcohol as much as the cutting a few pounds off during the week
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  31. jesskidden

    jesskidden Pooh-Bah (2,969) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Nice article, but if the writer or editor is gonna put info in parenthesis within a interviewee's quote, it oughta be correct.
    Pete's Brewing Co. was headquartered in Palo Alto, California - originally contract-brewed at the soon-to-be defunct Palo Alto Brewing Co. before the switch to Schell. It ended it's run as a brand owned by Gambrinus Co. of San Antonio TX, owner of Spoetzl, Trumer (US) and formerly BridgePort and during the period of owning "Pete's" they were an importer of Corona and Moosehead. Pete Slosberg and his investors (at the end, Stroh owned a large portion of the company) sold the brand to Gambrinus in the late 1990s, and Slosberg would later claim "The reality is, I was never the owner of Pete's; there were more than 100 shareholders. My part was 5 1/2 percent. I was the spokesmodel..."

    Now, if they wanted to add some explanatory info, they should have noted that when Ted Marti said Pete's " moved… to Schmidt first in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and they jumped over to Hamm’s" he was referring to the St. Paul breweries originally built by those two companies, both long out of business, with the Schmidt brewery at the time being operated by Heileman spin-off Minnesota Brewing Co. and the old Hamm's facility being operated by Stroh. (Marti discusses some of that in the Grain Belt section of the interview.)
    Yeah, don't blame ya. And some of them are incorrect, too. Like:
    This guy really think that most "normal" commercial beer is bottle-conditioned?
    And there's this theory.
    Uh, what is known as "light beer" in the US (low calorie, low carbohydrates, usually around 2 - 4% alcohol) was developed in the late 1960s and became popular with the creation of Lite Beer by Miller in the mid-70s, over 30 years after Repeal. As for NA's (better know as "near beer" or "cereal beverage" in that era) popularity, production of it decreased just about every year during Prohibition* as did the number of licensed "near beer" breweries still holding on.

    * US beer production peaked at 66 M bbl. in 1914 before WWI and the many state prohibition laws and the Wartime limits on alcohol content and raw material rationing. 1920, the first year of Prohibition's "less than 0.5%" beer production the total barrelage was 9.2 million. By 1932 that had fallen to 2.8 million.
    #71 jesskidden, Nov 17, 2021
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2021
  32. LCB_Hostage

    LCB_Hostage Initiate (0) Jan 30, 2013 Pennsylvania

    Basically, the point is that sometimes you need to limit your alcohol consumption, but you'd still like to enjoy another beer. That said, the ones I've tried (and I have sampled several) have all been unsatisfying - thin with no backbone or body, extremely vegetal (probably due to the fact that they're highly reliant on hops for whatever flavor they do have to offer) and not at all "beer-like." Perhaps the closest approximation I've had was an NA stout from BrewDog, but I refuse to support them, so there goes that. I've tried several (from Athletic, Dogfish Head, and others) that have received good reviews from sources I respect but it's always the same disappointing story. Honestly, I'd love to be able to crack open an NA, low-cal "beer" as my second or third of the evening and enjoy the beer experience with none of the downside, but so far, I haven't found anyone who can offer that. Bottom line, it seems like it's impossible to combine malt and yeast to create a true beer flavor without also generating alcohol. Chemistry wins again.
    #72 LCB_Hostage, Nov 18, 2021
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2021
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  33. LesDewitt4beer

    LesDewitt4beer Grand Pooh-Bah (3,394) Jan 25, 2021 Minnesota
    Pooh-Bah Society

    I believe N/A beers are not a fad and that they've evolved nicely over time. Here's a story: About 30 yrs ago I was involved in a violent car crash (not my fault). A person ran a red light and I T-Boned them going 45. No air bag. I walked away but was FUBAR. The person at fault and 2 other passengers were not so lucky. The guy in the back seat lost half his head. Impossible to un-see. Sparing any more gory details, I was on painkillers starting that day and had a CD release party for a rock band I was in 3 days after the crash. That's when I had my 1st N/A beers. I want alcohol when I have beer. I get relaxed and it's equal to a tiny massage in a can. If for whatever reason I can't or shouldn't have ANY kind of alcohol I simply don't drink. Like for fitness, music performance, driving, working on ladders or with power tools, etc. Though there are times when I can have a couple beers/booze drinks when drumming and then I imbibe very slowly. N/A beers are a very good thing. I don't purchase them but if I were given one to "join the party" I wouldn't hesitate to crush it and have a good time!
    tigg924, Harrison8, Rug and 2 others like this.
  34. LCB_Hostage

    LCB_Hostage Initiate (0) Jan 30, 2013 Pennsylvania

    Thanks for mentioning Heineken. That's the one I've had that came closest to it's actually alcohol-bearing brother (which, of course is Heineken, so there is that drawback)
    PapaGoose03, Harrison8 and Rug like this.
  35. IPAExpert69

    IPAExpert69 Savant (1,065) Aug 2, 2017 Pennsylvania

    Does anyone support BrewDog anymore? God I hope not
    Rug likes this.
  36. mendelld

    mendelld Initiate (193) May 20, 2009 Illinois

    I've purchased enough of Athletic's brews that I think I am invested! Occasionally the brewery misses, but most of their releases are excellent. I've had a number "real beers" that don't compare with the best of their N/A brews.
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