Beer advertising is nothing new during the Super Bowl. But this year, eyebrows raised when Heineken used the medium to promote its non-alcoholic brew. The placement of Heineken 0.0 is part of a campaign for the upcoming Marvel Studios Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania with the clever tagline of “don’t shrink and drink.”
But Heineken’s movie partnership and the Super Bowl buy points to a larger trend: the U.S. market has entered into a new phase of its relationship with non-alcoholic beers.
Once upon a time, not long ago, drinking non-alcoholic beers could be construed as a punishment as they were often poor in flavor—not to mention there weren’t that many choices available.
But times have definitely changed. Here’s a look at some of the best non-alcoholic beers to try.
The 5 Best Non-Alcoholic Beers
As an avid beer drinker, I’ve been tasting through the bevvy of non-alcoholic beers in the marketplace. Here are five that are in the fridge and ready for consumption.
1. Heineken 0.0
How can Ant-Man be wrong? But seriously, Heineken is a refreshing, easy-drinking lager that fits into happy hour, spectator sports and backyard barbecues. The non-alcoholic version tastes remarkably close to the full-strength version and is a worthy substitute.
2. Guinness 0.0
The ubiquitous dry Irish stout but without the booze. With the nitrogen widget in the can, it pours similar to its full-strength forbearer. The rich malt flavors of coffee and chocolate are present along with a slight hop bite on the finish, just like the real thing. Still pairs well with stew.
3. Industrial Arts Safety Glasses
The brewery in New York’s Hudson Valley is a new entrant to the non-alcoholic space, having made its bones on full-flavored and nuanced India pale ales. The Safety Glasses line has two beers on the market. The first is a pilsner that is vibrant with herbal and citrus character. The other is an IPA that manages to keep citrus and juicy tropical hop flavors in the mix without muting them.
4. Samuel Adams Just the Haze
From the brewery that brought craft lager into the drinking consciousness nearly 40 years ago, but has rarely had success with hop-forward beers, this hazy IPA hits all the right notes for a hoppy kick without the alcohol. Pillowy and full bodied it combines floral, fruity and citrusy hops with a light biscuity malt bill.
5. Untitled Art Mango Dragonfruit Fruited Sour
Kettle-soured beers, with tart expressive profiles are popular among brewers who use the base style as a canvas for fruit flavoring. Untitled Art in Wisconsin has been making non-alcoholic beers of note for a while now, including a lively crisp Italian pilsner. The mango dragon fruit sour is fizzy and full bodied without being too heavy. Juice-forward and tropical, it retains its beer soul amid the nectar.
Is It Healthier to Drink Non-Alcoholic Beers?
A shift in consumer consciousness has drinkers looking for healthier alternatives to beloved beverages. Is it healthier to drink non-alcoholic beers? That’s tough to say, but typically less alcohol means fewer calories and carbs, so imbibing feels a little lighter.
Some non-alcoholic brands have also embraced healthier lifestyles. Companies like Athletic Brewing in Connecticut have partnered with races, Iron Man competitions and gyms, to promote their brews, so one can have the beer flavors and experiences post-workout without the alcohol.
Is There an Alcohol-Free Beer That Tastes Like Beer?
One of the biggest hurdles is finding non-alcoholic beer that actually tastes like beer. The process to remove booze from a beer is a robust one that can involve extended boils or through dilution, which can be especially hard on traditional beer flavors.
When thinking about what makes the best non-alcoholic beers, it’s usually the styles that don’t favor hops. Pilsners and stouts or dark ales specifically. The malts are allowed to shine and only a subtle hop flavor is present. These taste the most like full-strength beers without too many questions being asked.
What Are the Best Non-Alcoholic Beers?
There are dozens of companies of all sizes producing non-alcoholic beer. The best ones are combining science with pasteurization technology and skilled brewing minds to produce flavorful pints. But ultimately, it has to speak to your palate.
Whatever you enjoy flavor wise, there is likely a non-alcoholic alternative.
There is tremendous growth in this area with new recipes being released weekly. Trial and error and eventual success will lead the perfect non-alcoholic brew to your glass.