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.
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.