Kicking back at the end of a long day, cold beer in hand, is a popular way to relax and unwind. But this scenario doesn’t always have to include alcohol. Going alcohol-free is a growing movement, with Gen Z leading the way in the transition towards clean, sober fun. But what are they drinking and where can you find it? Turns out there’s a growing market of vegan, non-alcoholic beer.
Why you should give non-alcoholic beer a try
Non-alcoholic beer is enjoying a surge in popularity, with young consumers leading the charge. Research indicates that the high cost of alcohol is one driving factor. The health and wellbeing movement is another major reason for the rising trend of teetotaling.
It’s no secret: drinking too much alcohol can harm your health. The risks of overindulging include everything from high blood pressure to a higher risk of heart disease, liver damage, strokes, cancer, and even dementia. Excessive drinking was the cause of more than 140,000 deaths and 3.6 million years of “potential life” lost in the US between 2015-2019.
All alcohol consumption places the drinker at higher risk of short and long-term health complications. The NHS states that there is no safe drinking level.
But the good news is if you’re trying to cut booze from your life altogether, or maybe just reduce the amount you drink, you can enjoy the same taste, without the alcohol. While alcohol-free beer has historically been considered a less appetizing version of its conventional counterpart, this is no longer the case.
Major beer brewers like Heineken and Busch now use vacuum distillation, a relatively new methodology, to make their beverages non-alcoholic beer and tasty. It’s an improvement from past methods, where alcohol was simply removed from the beer by heating a finished brew. (Alcohol has a lower boiling point than water and so evaporates off, leaving a sober, but arguably less tasty, drink behind.)
Are all non-alcoholic beers vegan?
While there are many non-alcoholic beer options available now, they’re not always vegan.
Similarly to winemaking, beer brewing involves using a number of animal products during the processing. Chief amongst them is clarifying, which can include ingredients like isinglass. Some beer makers have moved to news technologies to clarify their beers, but others, especially craft beer makers and ale producers still use it.
Isinglass is made from swim bladders of tropical and subtropical fish. It is a form of animal collagen used to remove any tiny impurities or plant parts and filter the liquid into a clear finished drink. It is not essential but has been used since the 19th century to make beer more visually appealing to consumers.
In addition to isinglass, some beer makers use gelatin, made from boiling animal bones and hooves, as a clarifying agent.
Unlike wine, which rarely adds extra ingredients to impact grape flavor, beer brewers can add honey, lactose, and whey to their tipples. The former two add sweetness while whey is used to create milk stouts, and none are vegan-friendly.
Lactose is a sugar and whey is a protein. Both come from cow’s milk. Meanwhile, honey might be a “gray area” for some plant-based eaters, but it is widely accepted as a non-vegan product.
That said, there are plenty of booze-free vegan beers to sample.
11 of the best vegan non-alcoholic beers
We think the following eleven should definitely be on your list. Crisp, authentic, and in some cases, award-winning, these are the (vegan) cream of the crop.
1. Days Brewing
Made in Scotland, Days focuses on real beer, just without the alcohol. The founders removed the alcohol percentage and topped up the flavor. All without any animal products used in the process.
Two varieties are available, with both the lager and pale ale definitely worth a try. You can find them here.
2. The Free From Beer Co
The clue is in the name here. The beer is free from gluten, animal products, and most alcohol too (0.5 percent remains). The company started out looking to cater to gluten-free drinkers but has evolved to embrace vegans as well and aims to be served on tap in popular locations soon.
Buy Free From gluten-free beer here.
3. Divine Brewing
If a stylish container is as important as the beer inside, this is the option for you. Gorgeously packaged in Deco-inspired cans, the vegan alcohol-free beer line is award-winning and comes in three different varieties. We recommend trying the Polaris porter, though the Atlas English Bitter and Vesta golden ales are excellent too.
Find pretty Polaris cans here.
4. San Miguel
Known for its tasty regular beer, San Miguel has stepped up to the alcohol-free plate and batted out a winner. Just as refreshing as you’d expect from an experienced brand, there has been no compromise on taste to remove the booze or negate animal-based clarifying processes.
This is also a great option when you don’t necessarily want to draw lots of attention to your alcohol-free status, as the packaging is similar to the standard offering.
Try alcohol-free San Miguel here.
Already a favorite brand for vegans, due to no animal products being used in any of its processes, Heineken now appeals to the alcohol-free plant-based crowd.
Light, refreshing, and uncharacteristically low in calories (69 per 300ml can), Heineken 0.0 is a good value option from a recognized and trusted brewer. Top tip: this is quite a floral beer and works very well in shandy.
Buy Heineken alcohol-free for your next party here.
6. Stella Artois
Yes, you read it correctly: Stella Artois has brought out an alcohol-free beer and what’s more, it’s vegan too. The company proudly states that no animal products are used during its brewing or finishing processes and that even the glue used on its labels is animal derivatives-free.
One of the most recognizable brands in the world, traditional Stella Artois features a big punch of alcohol (5.2 percent), but it’s more laid-back cousin retains all of the flavors with none of the next-day regrets.
See if you can spot the difference by buying Stella Artois Alcohol-Free here.
7. Big Drop Brewing Co
Another stylish addition to the alcohol-free beer roster, Big Drop has created a craft lager that ticks all the cool boxes but leaves you with no chance of a hangover. Also award-winning, Big Drop was the world’s first brewery dedicated solely to the production of alcohol-free craft beer.
Gluten-free and fully vegan, the Uptime variety beats Heineken’s calories at just 39 per can or bottle, but still tastes like proper beer.
You can find can multipacks of Uptime here.
8. Lucky Saint
Lucky Saint, dubbed as the UK’s number one dedicated alcohol-free beer, has become a go-to for those seeking a refreshing, non-alcoholic beverage. The brand’s non-alcoholic lager boasts zero sugar and zero alcohol. The beer is brewed for six weeks using just four natural, quality ingredients, ensuring that there are no additives or flavorings added.
Lucky Saint is completely vegan-friendly, as the beer is unfiltered and does not undergo filtration processes using animal products.
You can buy Lucky Saint vegan, non-alcoholic beer here.
9. Infinite Session
Infinite Session is a non-alcoholic beer that is perfect for anyone who is gluten-free, vegan, or simply looking for a healthier alternative to traditional beer. Gluten-free beers are proliferating but gluten-free and vegan is harder to find. Infinite Session offers a variety of vegan, non-alcoholic beers, including India Pale Ale, American Pale Ale, West Coast IPA, and Hazy IPA.
You can buy Infinite Session vegan, non-alcoholic beer here.
10. Nirvana Brewery
Nirvana Brewery is an independent, family-run brewery located in Leyton, East London. It has been leading the “low and no” revolution in the UK since 2016. What sets Nirvana Brewery apart is its singular focus on non-alcoholic beers.
Its East London brewhouse is the only one in the UK that solely produces alcohol-free beers. Nirvana Brewery has a large line of vegan, non-alcoholic beers including Organic Pale Ale, Bavarian Helles Lager, Classic IPA, and Dark, Rich Stout.
Buy Nirvana Brewery vegan non-alcoholic beer here.
11. BrewDog Nanny State
BrewDog believes that non-alcoholic beers should be just as delicious as their alcoholic counterparts, without any compromise on taste. In order to achieve this, the brand has re-engineered its iconic beers to bring you all the flavors of your favorites without the alcohol. BrewDog’s Nanny State is the only vegan, non-alcoholic beer in the lineup for now.
Buy BrewDog vegan, non-alcoholic beer here.
Will I be less fun at parties?
No. And better still, you’ll be the life and soul of brunch the next day, because you won’t be dehydrated or hungover.
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