How to make Non-alcohol (NA) Beer

Brewing beer at home is fun and now more and more people are brewing NA beer at home.  They are looking for healthier and more responsible ways to enjoy their favorite suds, and alcohol-free beer has become a popular option.  Luckily, there are many methods for making alcohol-free beer, each having it’s own advantages and disadvantages.  Let’s explore the 4 most common ways to make NA Beer.

NA Beer Method 1

Removing alcohol through heat.  Heating the beer to a temperature high enough for the alcohol evaporate is a traditional method – this method is called “boil-off”.  This is very effective at removing the alcohol in the beer, but it can also change the flavor and aroma of the beer – leaving you with a less than satisfying brew.

Make alcohol-free beer heating the beer to between 78-86 degrees Celsius (172 – 186 degrees F) for around 30 minutes. While some brewers use a brew kettle, others use special equipment like vacuum evaporators, this helps to carefully control the temperature and minimize the beer’s aroma and flavor.

NA Beer Method 2

Reverse Osmosis.  Another method to make NA beer is reverse osmosis – a brewing process where the beer is passed through a system of filters with smaller and smaller pore sizes.  Leaving only water and some other components of the beer left.  The alcohol, which has a smaller molecule size can be filtered out and collected individually.  Leaving you with the remaining water and components are then added together to create the beer.

NA Beer Method 3

Using vacuum distillation.  This is another method that involves heating the beer to a high temperature.  But unlike the traditional “boil-off”, this method is done under less pressure – leaving the alcohol to be removed at a lower temp, preserving more of the beer’s flavor.  To make alcohol-free beer using this method first heat to a temp about 40 degrees C (104 degrees F).  Reduce the pressure, this causes the alcohol to evaporate at lower temps than under normal conditions.  The alcohol collects separately, and the remaining beer is cooled, bottled or kegged.

NA Beer Method 4

  • Halting fermentation early.  The fourth method of making alcohol-free beer is by stopping the fermentation process before all the sugar has been converted into alcohol.  You need to monitor the beer’s fermentation with a hydrometer to measure the density – determining when you’re desired alcohol level has been reached.  Fermentation is then stopped by cooling the beer or adding chemicals like sulfur dioxide.

NA Beer FAQ’s

Is NA beer actually non-alcoholic?  Despite the name, beer can legally have up to 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV). A little is permitted since it is very difficult to reach absolute zero with the normal methods for brewing NA beer.

Can you get a beer belly from NA Beer?  Non-alcoholic beer does not make you fat as it is almost 95% water and a low level of calories.  So go ahead (in moderation of course), and sip those suds without the risk of gaining weight.

How many non-alcoholic beers equal 1 beer?  According to the NIAAA and CDC, one standard serving of alcohol (12 ounce beer) has an alcohol volume of 5%  This would be roughly 0.6 ounces of alcohol – this would mean one regular beer would equal about 10 NA beers.

Can kids drink NA Beer?

In most states you can’t purchase NA beer if you are under 21(check your local laws) but when drinking it you may not have to be.  So, you can drink it if you want, but depending on the state probably not buy it.

Why are NA beers so expensive?

You still have the labor process, brewing, packaging, marketing, distributing, etc. as any other beverage.  More of the flavor is noticed in NA beer so higher quality (more expensive) ingredients are used versus the alcoholic versions.  If you’re not considering the “buzz” of beer, you’re probably focusing more on the taste! 

Give it a try – cheers!


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