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How is Non-Alcoholic Beer Made?

Non-alcoholic beer generally starts its life as a regular beer.
It is possible to get drunk drinking non-alcoholic beer.
To make a beer non-alcoholic, it is often boiled after fermentation.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2014
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Non-alcoholic beer is a beverage that has a similar taste to beer, but contains no or very little alcohol. Though the exact criteria for how much alcohol a non-alcoholic beer can contain, it's generally less than 0.5%. This is significantly less alcohol than what is contained in alcoholic beer, which has an average alcohol percentage of five percent.

The reason non-alcoholic beer contains alcohol is because it starts its life as regular beer in most cases. The alcohol is usually removed after the brewing process has ended. This can be accomplished in several ways, including vacuum distillation, reverse osmosis, and evaporation. Some low alcohol beers are also made by a process called limited fermentation, where the brewer allows the beer to ferment a little, then removes the yeast from it.

For those who enjoy making beer at home, there are a number of recipes for non-alcoholic beer. These recipes usually start by combining the regular ingredients used to make a favorite homemade beer. Some suggest reducing the sugar content and type for the beverage, since some sugars like corn sugars naturally ferment more easily.

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Once the brewing is complete, the beer needs to be brought to alcohol’s boiling point, which is about 173.5 degrees Fahrenheit (78.61 degrees Celsius). The beer should continue to boil at this temperature for half an hour to reduce as much alcohol as possible. Some veteran beer makers suggest that the best way to accomplish this boiling is an oven, which provides more even heat, and seems to have little affect the beer’s final taste.

Since this beverage still contains alcohol, it may not be safe or legal to give it to children. It is also recommended that pregnant women avoid it. It is possible to get drunk drinking non-alcoholic beer. It is also illegal to give it to minors or allow the purchase of it by minors in 15 US states. Some states allow those over 18 to purchase the beer, and some restrict the purchase of any non-alcoholic beer to those over 21.

The same rules do not apply in other countries. For example, one can purchase alcohol in Mexico at the age of 18, and one can purchase either beer or wine in many European countries with no age restriction. Still, non-alcoholic beer may provide a good choice for those who do not like the side effects of excess alcohol, but enjoy the occasional taste of a beer with minimal alcohol.

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anon959434
Post 20

I feel a buzz after drinking just one NA beer. Wondering if it's psychological?

anon319054
Post 19

Using a home method like this you're unlikely to get below 2 percent alcohol by volume. To achieve the 0.5 percent alcohol that the big breweries get, they first separate the volatiles which give the taste, then the alcohol, then add the alcohol free beer and volatiles back together.

The boiling point listed is completely correct, but what usually happens on a large scale is to lower the pressure below atmospheric, which also causes the boiling points to lower, making the alcohol come off sooner and not hurting the taste as much.

anon254581
Post 18

RE: Post 7: If you are a recovering alcoholic, you cannot drink non-alcoholic beer, as you will still have alcohol enter your bloodstream and go to your brain. This will cause you to have cravings and may lead to a relapse.

anon244701
Post 17

So, obviously, if you're a home brewer and you bottle condition your beer, would it not then, be impossible to make a non-alcoholic beer? If you boil it to get rid of the alcohol, you also kill any yeast, which is the only thing that's going to carbonate the beer in the bottle.

anon153058
Post 13

I get too crazy if I drink and I find that this is a great alternative for me. Good NA beers let you socialize with drinkers without the side effects.

If you've had a DUI in the past 10 years you aren't allowed to have any measurable amount of alcohol in your system when driving in california so I'll have one or two NA beers and hang out for a couple hours. I figure that's is enough time so that nothing would even show on a breathalyzer. Old Milwaukee, Becks and St. Pauli Girl are good as well as Clausthaler, which was mentioned.

anon143290
Post 12

Clausthaler is awesome! It's an imported German N/A beer, and the best I've ever had. I recently discovered it at one of my local taverns and have been hooked ever since. I too am a recovering alcoholic and have missed being able to enjoy a "good" beer until now!

anon123286
Post 11

San Miguel 0.0 percent is zero alcohol. Readily available in Spain, not sure about elsewhere.

anon98147
Post 10

I'm A wine, beer, and spirits professional. I was recently told by my doctor that I must stop drinking! What am I to do? I love drinking and it's part of my job! I've been trying various N/A but haven't found one I like. I'm going to brew my own and see how that goes. Because there's nothing like a cold beer after a long work day! With alcohol or with no alcohol, it should be tasty. And there is a way to determine alcohol levels before and after evaporation to ensure it is safe.

anon87009
Post 9

Pity they can't make 100 percent non alcoholic. There is good stuff in beer but the alcohol is no good. I would drink it if there was zero alcohol in it. Drinking alcohol lowers my resistance to catching colds - even just a little amount. So it just has to be nice filtered rainwater.

anon77689
Post 8

I wanted to know why the bars don't put this n.a. beer on the half price list for happy hour or two for ones?

anon74150
Post 7

I am a recovering alcoholic. Last weekend I tried Becks Blue - I had 3 bottles at a wedding reception. It was surprisingly OK tastewise.

I have the view that if a person has enough self-awareness then it shouldn't be a problem (that's relevant if, like me, they're a recovering Alkie). I would say that for people in early recovery, that's at any point in the first few years, they should probably avoid N.A. beers, I have been sober for nearly 13 years now, and thought about it carefully beforehand. Another AA member told me about these drinks and said he has them occasionally without any problems, it's all in the mind.

You just have to be honest with yourself about why you're having a non alcohol beer It could lead to relapse for some, but if you are genuinely just drinking it for the taste, and not as a dry run for a proper drink, then there is no problem.

anon63219
Post 6

Non-alcoholic beer is for non-alcoholics.

anon41757
Post 4

I was driving with one of these beers and they still ticketed me for having an open intoxicant in the car.

anon41399
Post 3

I've read where there's more alcohol in a 12oz glass of fresh squeezed orange juice than there is in the commercial non-alcohol beverages. I would think it would all depend on how much alcohol there is in the homebrew as to how long one would have to heat it to remove it. It might be best to try and capture the alcohol for measuring and comparing hydrometer readings before and after heating. cheers

anon3890
Post 2

As a sport fisherman on lake ontario i have spent 4 to 8 hours on the lake fishing for salmon. I drink 10 to 12 non-al beer during this time. I satisfy my thirst and do not break any laws. Including impaired operation of a motor vessel. Anyone who goes with me and drives the boat also drinks non-al. The 7 or 8 times we have been stopped on the water by police on routine inspections. They have always commented that we were very smart to do it this way. Something to think about for all boaters.

anon1653
Post 1

Quite informative. However it is not very likely that anyone with a properly functioning liver is ever going to get drunk drinking N/A. the odds are probably somewhere on the order of 1:1000 and this is simply because some bodies cannot tolorate any alcohol. It is amusing to see how much fear is generated about alcohol. I will say that the chances of homemade n/a getting you drunk are much greater simply because it is much more likely to be improperly done.

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