What is non-alcoholic beer?

Image of glasses filled with stout, brown ale, pale ale and India pale ale lined up on marble counter.

Alcohol-free beers are diverse, delicious and designed to be explored. If you’re looking for the best non-alcoholic brews around, we’re your one-stop shop!

Imagine taking a sip of a brashly bitter India pale ale (IPA) or a roasty-toasty stout and finding out…hey, this is alcohol-free!

Surprised? Don’t be. These days, non-alcoholic (NA) beer is more enjoyable than ever. Even tough-to-please beer critics are gung-ho about the amazing stuff happening in this arena. No wonder non-alcoholic brews have become one the fastest-growing categories around.

Maybe non-alcoholic beer suits your lifestyle. Or maybe you just want to try something fresh and different. Either way, The Beer Store’s got you covered. Read on for the ins and outs of these tasty offerings.

What is non-alcoholic beer?

You may hear the terms “alcohol-free,” “de-alcoholized beer” and “low-alcohol beer” when people talk about brews that contain little to no alcohol. In Ontario, beverages containing up to 0.5 per cent alcohol by volume (ABV) can be labelled “non-alcoholic” or “alcohol-free” — even though some of them do technically contain just a tiny bit of alcohol.

There are also beers that contain no alcohol whatsoever. That’s right: zero per cent, nothing, nada. Carefully check the label (including the ABV percentage) before you buy to make sure you get exactly what you want.

Why should I try non-alcoholic beer?

Because it tastes great! Choosing a non-alcoholic brew doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the refreshing flavours you usually enjoy.

These days, there’s more style variety than ever before. Pale lagers were the first NA offerings, but nowadays you’ll also find non-alcoholic chocolaty stouts; bold, powerful IPAs; thirst-quenching, foamy white beers; and food-friendly pale and red ales. And even more.

You can have a lot of fun exploring alcohol-free beer. And you’ll be in good company: Lots of people are choosing non-alcoholic options, so they’re easier to find than they used to be.

Is non-alcoholic beer lower in calories?

Yep. Non-alcoholic beers do tend to have fewer calories than other beers.

How is non-alcoholic beer made?

Brewers have figured out a bunch of ways to produce beer that delivers all the great taste of traditional suds, minus the alcohol.

  • Option 1: Remove the yeast. One approach is to brew beer that contains less alcohol in the first place. The simplest technique involves removing the yeast from the mix to slam the brakes on the fermentation process before it creates a lot of alcohol. (Read more about how beer is brewed.)
  • Option 2: Change the yeast. Another way to brew low-ABV beer is to use special strains of yeast that don’t create as much alcohol as they munch away on the sugars in the wort. Brewers have also discovered they can reduce the amount of alcohol yeast produces if they let these little organisms do their thing at very low temperatures.
  • Option 3: Remove the alcohol post-brewing. A whole other strategy for making low- and no-alcohol beer is to separate the alcohol from the beer after it’s brewed. You know, using the laws of chemistry and physics. To pull that off, brewers have rigged up a science fair’s worth of gizmos and experiments, from spinning discs to reverse osmosis to something called “nanofiltration.” Cheers to science!
  • Option 4: Crank up the heat. Finally, since alcohol boils at a lower temperature than water, there’s always good old heat to separate it from the rest of the brew. If you boil the mixture longer or harder, some of that alcohol will evaporate, leaving a lower-ABV result.

What’s the best non-alcoholic beer, and where can I buy it?

When it comes to what beer is best, the answer is always the same: Whatever you enjoy the most is the best choice.

So, where should you seek out your new favourite non-alcoholic beer? The Beer Store, of course! We carry all kinds of styles among our 1,000+ brands and we’ve been adding some of Canada’s — and the world’s — best low- and no-alcohol beers to our repertoire. And we’re getting in new ones all the time, so keep checking back.

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