Australia seems to be experiencing a surge in the availability of non-alcoholic beers right now, and that’s something we’re more than happy to get behind.
It’s practically a guarantee that we’ve all said “I’m never drinking again,” following a particularly booze-laden night out at some point in our lives. Fortunately, you can follow through on your word and still enjoy the delicious taste of beer thanks to a selection of non-alcoholic beers.
While it’s undoubtedly true that some of the best craft beers can make or break a Sunday session, non-alcoholic beer and low-alcohol beer offer just as good of a drinking experience, without the hangover. What makes non-alcoholic beer even more attractive is the fact, in most cases, they’re packed with fewer carbohydrates than their alcoholic brethren. So, they’re not only good for the following morning but for your waistline, too.
How is non-alcoholic beer made?
Any beer than has less than 0.5% ABV (alcohol by volume) is classed as non-alcoholic. So, while it does still technically contain alcohol, it’s not enough to get you drunk. As a comparison, 9 non-alcoholic drinks equals 1 standard drink in Australia.
To make non-alcoholic beer, brewers go through much of the same process as when making alcoholic beer, in that it requires making a mash, adding hops and fermenting. But, once this process is completed, things change. Non-alcoholic beers, naturally, have to then have the natural alcohol removed.
To do this, brewers will most commonly subject it to a high heat so that the alcoholic part of the brew to evaporate, since alcohol has a lower boiling point than water.
Another method brewers use is called vacuum distilling, which lowers the boiling point of the alcohol even further and allows more of the flavourings from the hops to remain in the brew. Using the first method of exposing it to high heat, can also take away some of the flavour along with the alcohol.
Alternatively, the non-alcoholic beer could go through a reverse osmosis process which sees the brew passed through a filter which only the alcohol and water can pass through. Once this process is completed, the alcohol is removed from the resulting liquid, and the water, complete with any acids that made it through the filtering process, are added back into the mixture that didn’t make it through the filter. It’s this mixture that contains the sugars and flavours.
Dry July is an annual fundraising campaign, started in 2008, that encourages people to go sober for the month of July in order to raise money for those affected by cancer. Since its foundation, Dry July has increased in popularity and has helped people to start rethinking their relationship with alcohol.
In fact, Dry July says more and more Australians are beginning to lead more ‘Sober Curious’ or ‘Mindful Drinking’ lifestyles. This doesn’t mean they’re giving up alcohol entirely, but they’re starting to question if they always need to be drinking alcohol, or restricting the amount of alcohol they consume.
The foundation says “over the past 15 years, alcohol consumption has decreased in Australia, from 10.8 litres per capita per year down to 9.4 litres, the lowest seen in 50 years.” And, contrary to what you may think, it’s the younger generation that are getting behind the mindful drinking lifestyle, with “the number of people in their 20s abstaining from alcohol increasing from 8.9% in 2001 to 22% in 2019.”
It’s this shift in mindset that has been the catalyst for more and more non-alcohol beers (and non-alcoholic wines) to enter the market.
Best Non-Alcoholic Beers
So, if you’re new to non-alcoholic beer and are considering giving it a go for campaigns such as Dry July, which ones should you be looking out for? We’ve put together this list of the best non-alcoholic beers to help get you started.
We’ve deliberately skipped the likes of Peroni Libera and Great Northern Zero because, whilst they may indeed be non-alcoholic beers, we don’t think they truly showcase what is possible when it comes to taste, i.e. they don’t provide much evidence to prove making the switch to non-alcoholic or low-alcohol beer doesn’t have to be boring.
So, for the most part, the non-alcoholic beers on this list are either produced by established craft breweries or they come from breweries dedicated solely to producing great-tasting non-alcoholic beer.
Heaps Normal Quiet XPA
The Heaps Normal Quiet XPA tastes exactly like an XPA should, bursting with tropical flavours and a perfectly balanced bitterness-to-sweetness ratio. While it's technically not completely non-alcoholic, with less than 0.5% ABV, you're still going to be able to drive after a couple. It genuinely could be the beer to convert you to an alcohol-free lifestyle and, with just 63 calories in each can, you can forget about gaining a beer belly.
Heaps Normal has also recently introduced a non-alcoholic lager called, Another Lager. Beautifully crisp and refreshing, it's the perfect accompaniment to a sunny afternoon session.
Wilde Brewing Isotonic
Just imagine, you get home from a morning run, head to the fridge and crack open what, on first glance, looks like a beer. It's worth getting this Isotonic purely for the satisfaction of seeing the faces of your bemused onlookers when you confidently tell them it's designed for recovery.
It tastes rather good too, serving up notes of pear and citrus. Delightfully refreshing and a non-alocholic beer that serves a genuine purpose. Sign us up.
Mornington Peninsula Free Pale Ale
The non-alcoholic pale ale is made in the style of an American Pale Ale and so retains the citrus and passionfruit aromas you'd expect. Incredibly easy to drink and with a gorgeous golden colour, it's a perfect alternative to the numerous alcoholic pale ales available today. If you fancy something a little more tropical in flavour, be sure to check out the non-alcoholic XPA, which was only introduced in 2022.
Shipping starts at $9.90 for metropolitan cities in Australia
Wilde Guru Sparking Hop Water
Wilde Guru says that to make its sparkling hop water, it uses "filtered sparkling water that is dry-hopped with real hops, just like regular beer. The hops are left in the tank for 2 days to unfold their natural aroma and hop goodness." Wilde Guru sparkling hop water is currently available in two flavours: lemon & lime and original.
James Squire Zero
James Squire Zero is a non-alcoholic beer that is still bursting with flavour thanks to a carefully curated balance of malt and hops. The result is a crisp, refreshing lager that is low in calories (70) that still provides a great beer taste.
Sidewinder Hazy Pale
The result is low-alcohol beer bursting with tropical flavours, but with the soft mouthfeel provided by the malts. If you need more convincing, the Sidewinder Hazy Pale took home second place in the world's best no alcohol/low-alcohol awards at the International Brewing Awards 2021.
Big Drop Brewing Co. Pine Trail Pale Ale
There are currently five non-alcoholic beers available in Australia (there are 10 in the UK) but with everything from a milk stout to an IPA catered for, there is still plenty of choice. We've picked out the Pine Trail Pale Ale, an award-winning non-alcoholic beer that is made using Magnum, Mosaic & Amarillo hops. The result is a beer that delivers floral aromas with more of a citrus taste.
Shipping starts at $9.90 for metropolitan cities in Australia
Capital Brewing Co Alc-Less
Nort Refreshing Ale
The Nort Refreshing Ale is the brewery's flagship non-alcoholic beer and is now joined by an All-Day IPA, Tropical XPA and a Pacific Ale. The Refreshing Ale is just that, refreshing, and makes for a perfect summer beer that has a hint of bitterness you'd expect but a flavour that makes for easy session drinking.
Sobah Pepperberry IPA
Sobah currently has five non-alcoholic brews available to buy from their official website, comprising a core range of three: the Pepperberry IPA we've selected, a Lemon Aspen Pilsner and a Finger Lime Cervaza. They're joined by a special release Aniseed Myrtle Stout and a Davidson Plum Gluten Free Ale. The Pepperberry IPA exhibits traditional flavourings of an IPA but is given a little spicy kick thanks to the inclusion of Australian Pepperberry. It – and all of Sobah's brews – are non-alcoholic beers you have to try at least once.
Athletic Brewing Co. Upside Dawn Golden Ale
Athletic Brewing Co has four brews making up its core range but releases regular limited edition and special release brews throughout the year. One of those core beers is the Upside Dawn Golden Ale. It's a classic golden ale that promises a refreshing and clean taste, along with floral and earthy notes. We here at DMARGE obviously want to encourage you stay local to Australia, but if you need to venture further afield, Athletic Brewing Co. is the way to go.
Big Shed Brewing Co. Desi Driver Pale Ale
Packed with citrus and passionfruit flavourings and the team at Big Shed have made sure to keep bitterness to a minimum so as to ensure you're happy to keep drinking them, and avoid being tempted by an alcoholic beer instead. At less than 0.5% ABV, you can easily sink a few of these and still drive you and your friends home.