The Best Alcohol Free Beer

Adam Beer 0 Comments

After a booze filled new years party and a few delicate times in pubs, unable to decide between overpriced coke or yet more beer, I thought I would investigate the full range of options of low-alcohol beer.

Usually I would scoff at them clearly being rubbish and cheap options pumped out by mega-breweries (including you there, Brewdog), but more and more small batch craft breweries are experimenting to try and meet increasing demand for not always getting annihilated on a Friday night.

Below we summarise the best alcohol free beers, and finish off with the ultimate list of every one available in the UK.


Top Reasons for drinking alcohol free beer:

  • Reduced Hangovers
  • A break between alcoholic beers
    • Session IPA at 6.5%? Take a crafty alcohol light option in between to make sure you don’t end up on the floor
    • Mix high quality beers with 1 strong, then 1 low alcohol.
  • Lifestyle – cutting down on alcohol, but still enjoying beer
  • Lack of good alternatives to beer in pubs. Pubs are great, but it’s either beer, wine or sweet, sugary drinks as an alternative (Coke, Fentimans, etc)
  • Crafty beers with well designed labels will alleviate the social stigma around not drinking as they look like normal beers.

Does alcohol free beer have less calories

In short, yes, less alcohol in a drink means fewer calories. This holds true for wine too. Sugars in the brewing process are what create the alcohol, but also the calories.

Less alcohol = fewer calories – As you can see in the Brewdog comparison chart below, the more alcohol there is, the higher the calorie content.

You can see a full list of calorific content in the beers at the end of this article.

What does alcohol free beer taste like?

Unsurprisingly, the lack of alcohol can result in a weaker, slightly watery taste.

This isn’t always bad thing though, as a lot of the sub-1% beers I’ve tried have been just as, if not more, refreshing than alcohol versions.

However I wouldn’t recommend starting by trying an entire night on them! Intersperse “normal” beers with non-alcoholic ones to avoid social comment while also keeping the right side of 3-pints-that-is-a-great-idea.

How much alcohol in non alcoholic beer?

The way that the UK defines alcohol levels in beers is slightly confusing, as what may colloquially be referred to a s “alcohol free” may in fact have small amounts of alcohol in.

  • ABV Under 0.05% = Alcohol Free
  • ABV Under 0.5% = De-alcoholised
  • ABV Under 1.2% = Low- Alcohol
  • Anything over 1.2% is classed as “normal” beer.
  • ABV Stands for Alcohol by Volume.

So, it’s important to note when buying that some beers may in fact have alcohol in them but still to a much reduced amount compared to other styles. The reason for this is that the brewing process will naturally create some amount of alcohol, and attempts to remove it in its entirety are usually unsuccessful!

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Why is alcohol free beer so expensive?

There are two main reasons:

  1. Added steps to brewing process
  2. Smaller batches / less economy of scale

To ensure alcohol doesn’t form in the beer, the brewing process needs to be far more tightly controlled. There are several options here, but it’s extremely difficult to balance keeping a pleasant beer flavour while also stopping alcohol from forming.

An alternative method, usually done for the bigger brands, is to filter or heat the beer to remove the alcohol after the brewing process. However, this can damage the quality of the final product.

Having said that, low alcohol beer will usually be cheaper due to less tax applied at point of sale.

Best Supermarkets for Alcohol Free Beer

Most only carry the big brands of Bavaria, Becks, Budwiser, Brewdog and Erdinger.

Not much in the way of craft yet visible.

Tesco carries the biggest range but not in smaller stores.

Waitrose usually has a decent craft range which will hopefully expand to more low alcohol beers, but their online offering is poor. It can vary by store depending what local breweries they are supporting, so London stores may have a better offering.

The Complete List of Alcohol Free Beers (and where to buy them)

Big Drop Brewing Co

These guys were by far the most commonly stocked alcohol free beer available in Brighton. Big Drop exclusively brew low alcohol beers.

Average price was around £2.20 per bottle, and it’s great stuff.

They offer four different beers currently:

  • Winter Spiced Ale
  • Lager
  • Chocolate Milk Stout
  • Citrus Pale

The Pale and Stout are the best in my opinion, closely resembling the  alcholic versions. I was extremely surprised how good the Stout was, considering.

The lager and spiced ale are alright but not the best. The lager is fine if you’re moving between alcoholic lagers, but don’t go for it after some craft beers as it will taste of very little.

Overall an impressive range worth trying. Definitely go for the Stout if you can, and hopefully quash any fears from boisterous, non-believing friends.

Available From:

We didn’t see any in supermarkets, sadly! Try local craft beer stores, or drydrinker.com, Ales By Mail , Beer Hawk and LightDrinks.

Nirvana

Nirvana is another brewery dedicated to only alcohol free beers but disappointingly only 1 store in Brighton seemed to stock their range.
I’m sure they will appear more, as I’ve only heard positive things.

I only go to try the Karma Pale Ale, and it was excellent. Crisp and fresh with enough taste to fool people into thinking it was a full ABV beer.

Available From:

We didn’t see any in supermarkets, sadly! Try local craft beer stores, drydrinker.com or Ales By Mail.com.

West Bier

West Bier are a Glasweigan brewery making German style, purity law conforming beers.

Their 2 low alcohol beers (a lager and wheat beer) are no exception and have seen great praise, but getting hold of them can be tough!

Not available online yet so keep your eyes peeled.

Visit WestBier

Erdinger Weizen Alkoholfrei

More readily available and less crafty, this German Wheatbeer is a great option to dip your toe in the alcoholfrei waters. Probably one of the best options out there in terms of availability and taste, followed closely by Brewdog’s Nanny State.

No introduction needed, Erdinger make a huge amount of great wheat beers available in supermarkets and craft shops alike.

A great example of what can be achieved, it retains flavours without loosing too much of the tang, and subtle branding means people won’t even blink at you drinking at a party!

Available from, surprisingly, pretty much all the supermarkets!

Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsburys and Waitrose.

St Peter’s Without

St Peter’s is easily recognisable on supermarket shelves, but I’d never noticed their low alcohol beer.

While I’ve not personally tried it yet, a lot of blogs and reviews rate it highly. The good news is it’s cheap too!

Buy from Tesco or Amazon.

Innis & Gunn Innis & None

Aside from the name, this beer has seen strong reviews from the famous Scottish Beer.

Apparently it also has Ginseng and Vitamin C, so it’s basically a healthy drink?

Take one of these over a beetroot and garlic shot any day. Probably cheaper, too.

Buy direct on their site at £1 a can!

Brew Dog – Nanny State

BrewDog need no introduction. A huge mega brewer of craft beer, they have a extremely good entry into the low alcohol market with their Nanny state.

(Perhaps offensively) Hoppy and definitely in the “craft” end of the beer range it is crisp, fresh, and manages to avoid the watery taste some other beers have. I’m not sure I could drink a huge amount due to personal taste, but if you’re a fan of BrewDog’s usual range then this will go down a treat. Easily one of the best that doesn’t feel like you’re drinking low-alcohol beer.

Thankfully it often comes in pints from the tap in their bars, and is both very good and usually quite a bit cheaper than their other stuff. (Sadly some pubs do still charge for low alcohol beer as if it was a 7% IPA, the bastards).

Pricing is a bit odd for the bottles – supermarkets carry it for as low as £1 a bottle but other retailers seem to charge quite a bit more.

Available from Amazon, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose, as well as Brewdog, obviously.

M&S Low Alcohol Czech Lager

Suprisingly this one keeps popping up with positive reviews too. Not available anywhere online sadly, but your local store should sell it for around £1.50.

Far better than other supermarket attempts, this lager is lemony, hoppy and a class pilsner.

The perfect train drink?

Mikkeller – Drinking in the Sun

Mikkeller is a huge name in the beer space, and their alcohol free beer is still no exception.

It’s just 0.3% and hoppy to boot.

Unusually, only available from the Wine Society!

Best Alcohol Free Mixed Cases

Sadly not many retailers are doing a mixed case of decent taster alcohol free beers.

You’re often best to head to a local craft shop if possible. All of the beers I grabbed were cheaper in a shop than online, sometimes even before delivery was taken into account. Madness right?!

RetailerCase SizeCase CostDeliveryTotal CostFinal Bottle Cost
Dry Drinker24£33.99£6.99£40.98£1.71
Beer Hawk15£22.00£4.95£26.95£1.79
Dry Drinker12£21.99£6.99£28.98£2.42
Dry Drinker24£36.99£6.99£43.98£1.83
Alcohol Free24£22.99£6.99£29.98£1.25
Alcohol Free36£40.99£6.99£47.98£1.33
Light Drinks12£20.99£3.49£24.48£2.04
Ales By Mail12£27.48£5.99£33.47£2.78

All Alcohol Free Beer

Below is a complete table of every beer I could find that had under 1% alcohol.

Sadly not many retailers are doing a mixed case of decent taster alcohol free beers.

You’re often best to head to a local craft shop if possible. All of the beers I grabbed were cheaper in a shop than online, sometimes even before delivery was taken into account. Madness right?!

BreweryBeer NameABVStyleCaloriesRetailer 1Price 1 (PB)
Big Drop Brewing CoWinter Spiced Ale0.50%Pale Ale112drydrinker.com£2.83
Big Drop Brewing CoLager0.50%Lager46drydrinker.com£2.83
Big Drop Brewing CoChocolate Milk Stout0.50%Stout155drydrinker.com£2.83
Big Drop Brewing CoCitrus Pale0.50%Pale Ale65drydrinker.com£2.83
St Peter’sWithout0.05%100Tesco£1.30
Heineken00.05%70Tesco£0.67
ErdingerAlkoholfrei0.50%Wheat Beer125Waitrose£1.30
Innis & GunnInnis & None0.05%66Innus & Gunn£1.00
SagresZero0.30%73Alcohol Free£1.04
RothausPilsner0.40%Pilsner55drydrinker.com£2.17
RothausWheat Beer0.40%Wheat Beer120drydrinker.com£2.17
BrewdogNanny State0.50%26Brewdog£1.40
M&SCzech Lager0.50%LagerM&S£1.50
BavariaBavaria Beer0.00%80Tesco£0.50
ClausthalerLager0.50%Lager130Ocado£0.75
CobraZero0.05%80Ocado£0.50
West BeerNIX Lager0.05%LagerWest Beer-
West BeerNIX Wheat0.05%Wheat BeerWest Beer-
Estrella DammFree0.05%66drydrinker.com£1.67
SchneiderWeisse Mein Alkoholfreies Tap 30.50%Amazon-
FranziskanerAlkoholfrei0.50%Beer Hawk£1.99
BecksBlue0.05%Tesco£0.58
KrombacherPils0.50%PilsnerAlcohol Free£0.92
NirvanaKosmic Stout0.00%Stout100Ales By Mail£2.59
NirvanaTantra Pale Ale0.00%Pale Ale75Ales By Mail£2.57
NirvanaSutra IPA0.50%IPAAles By Mail£2.20
NirvanaKarma Pale Ale0.50%Pale AleAles By Mail£2.05
Veltins0.50%LagerBeerhawk£1.19
Leeds Brewery0PA0%66drydrinker.com£2.17
MikkellerDrink’in The Sun0.30%48The WIne Society£2.25
Square Root + Pressure DropVerdello Sour0.50%drydrinker.com£2.00
Square RootCitrus Pale Shandy0.50%Pale Ale71LightDrinks£2.39
vandeStreekPlayground IPA Alcoholvrij0.50%Beerwulf£2.19
ü.NNIPA0.05%IPAdrydrinker.com£2.83
FitBeerLager0.30%German Lager66drydrinker.com£2.33
Fruh KolschAlcohol Free0.50%Lager88Beer Hawk£1.99
And UnionDer Graf Von Bayern0.50%Wheat BeerBeer Hawk£2.19
Maisel's WeissAlkoholFrei0.50%Wheat BeerBeer Hawk£1.39
Super BockStout0.50%Stout76drydrinker.com£1.67
Super BockPilsner0.50%Pilsner76drydrinker.com£1.67
BudelsMalty Dark0.00%Beer Wulf£0.79
BudelsMalt0.00%Beer Wulf£0.89
PistonheadFlat Tire0.50%66LightDrinks£1.89
BitburgerDrive0.00%73LightDrinks£1.89
BernardFree Lager0.50%Lager63LightDrinks£1.69
BudweiserProhobition Brew0.50%Lager111LightDrinks£1.49
JulpilerALCOHOL FREE0.00%Belgium65LightDrinks£2.19

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