Whether you’re on a diet or you want to lower your alcohol intake, low alcohol beer definitely has its advantages. But how low is low, and what important things should you know about the amount of alcohol in so-called light beers? We’ll explore these topics and more in the following post.
What exactly is low alcohol beer?
Put simply, low alcohol beer does what it says on the tin: it’s a beer that has a very low alcohol content. The idea is that the best low alcohol beer still tastes as delicious as a normal beer, only with a significant reduction in its ability to inebriate the drinker. Low alcohol beers like this are ideal for designated drivers who don’t want to be over the limit on a night out, and for people who are watching their waistlines; the low alcohol content also means fewer calories. Most of these low alcohol beers are lagers, but you can also get low alcohol ales. Names for low alcohol beer include light beer, non-alcoholic beer, small beer or near-beer.
How is low alcohol beer made?
True beer geeks will be asking themselves this very question. Low alcohol beer starts life as normal beer with a normal amount of alcohol in it. The beer is then cooked in order to boil away the alcohol. Once the alcohol evaporates, the liquid left over is then used (this is the opposite to how high alcohol beers are made - they are frozen to concentrate the alcohol). Most breweries these days use a special technique to preserve the flavor of the beer called vacuum evaporation, which is where a vacuum is placed over the beer in order to turn the alcohol into gas - this sometimes means that the boiling phase is not necessary. There's a second process that's sometimes used instead of boiling the alcohol, and it's called reverse osmosis. As the name suggests, this is where the beer is passed through a special porous filter which has holes that are so tiny that only water and alcohol can pass through them. The water and remaining acids are added back to the beer mixture later, minus the alcohol. A third method used to make low alcohol beer is simply to water it down until the alcohol becomes sufficiently diluted. So now you know!
The best low alcohol beer might be zero alcohol
There are regulations on what can be marketed and sold as low alcohol beer, and alcohol-free beer. In the UK, the government recommends that any drink marketed as no alcohol or alcohol free must contain no more than 0.05% ABV. Beers marketed as low alcohol must be no more than 1.2% AVB. In some parts of the EU, however, these rules are a bit more relaxed; beer should contain no more than 0/5% AVB if it is labelled “alcohol free”.
So what does this mean for the average beer connoisseur? Put simply, it means that even the best “no alcohol beer” may sometimes contain trace amounts of alcohol. However, these are usually so tiny that it would take 100 of those beers just to make up the beer content of one normal beer. So, they’re pretty safe in general and contain nowhere near enough alcohol to get you drunk. However, if your diet is strictly alcohol free and you want to abstain 100%, you should always check the label before drinking. In the next section we’ll recommend some beers which are totally and utterly free from alcohol.
Is there a beer with 0% alcohol?
Yes! There are some beers with 0% alcohol, as opposed to the trace amounts in some low or no alcohol beers. In the UK, these include:
In the US, some of the most popular low alcohol beers include:
*Beck’s Blue (0.05 percent)
*Bitburger Drive (0.05 percent)
Budweiser Prohibition Brew (0 percent)
Heineken 0.0 (0 percent)
Which beer has the lowest alcohol?
If we’re being logical about this then it’s fair to say that the lowest alcohol beer contains 0% alcohol, and as such it would be any of the beers we mentioned above, or their overseas counterparts. However, if we’re talking strictly beers with trace amounts of alcohol, then things become more complicated. Since beer companies don’t have to specify the amount of alcohol in beer if it goes under 0.05%, it’s very hard to tell.
What’s the best low alcohol beer in the UK?
There are a lot of excellent alcohol free beers available in the UK, including:
If you want to try something a little different to the big name brands, you can find a total of 73 low alcohol beers on our website from all over the world. Each of them has received our seal of approval and we heartily recommend you give them a go!
What about low calorie or light beer?
The great thing about low alcohol beers is that they're also low on calories. Since a large proportion of the calorie count in beer comes from the alcohol content, you'll find that the lower the alcohol percentage, the fewer calories there will be. Calories in light beers can also be reduced by removing the amount of carbs in a beer. This is easily done by adding a special enzyme to the beer that breaks down the starches and turns them into sugars. After that, they add yeast, which turns the sugars into alcohol. Once that's done, the brewer needs to bring the alcohol content back down, and this can be done by simply diluting with water. The good news? The hops plant, which gives your beer its delicious flavor, is very low in calories, and this means brewers can usually retain the taste of their beers whilst still lowering the calories. Now that’s a relief!
If reading this has left you feeling thirsty, you’ll find plenty of low alcohol and alcohol free beers over at the store. Get them all delivered straight to your door at amazing prices!