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Non-alcoholic beers may have gotten a bad reputation, mainly because the beverage falls short of a lot of things that real beer has to offer. On top of that, serious beer drinkers choose not to consume non-alcoholic beers as it does not contain any alcohol. History tells us that booze-free beer was chastised for lacking in variety. The kind of beer earned rep for lacking the “real” taste.

However, there may be situations when you would not want or should not be drinking alcohol but you still wish you can have the same beer experience as your peers. Non-alcoholic beers are gaining more respect in the society recently for this purpose.  

  • Non-alcoholic beer dates back to the medieval Europe.
  • The fact is that the precursor to booze-free beer, which is “small beer,” has low-alcohol content.
  • The brews were created to be a safe daily substitute for polluted water.
  • The drink has just enough of alcohol so as to kill the germs.

In the U.S., we call the drink “NA beer” or non-alcohol beer, while in Europe it’s called “alcohol-free” brew with an alcohol level below .5%.

The drink was actually introduced as a necessity and was the only legal beer during the onset of Prohibition. Non-alcoholic beers are also known as “near beer” for obvious reasons. A lot of people, however, still view alcohol-free beer as a mere imitation with a lot of added artificial flavors; however, it is made like normal beer.

The brewer will mash the malt and boil it with hops. The beer is then fermented to create CO2 and alcohol. If the brew is an alcoholic drink, it is bottled and labeled at this stage. If not, it goes through one more step.

The method of removing the alcohol from your regular beer is done by heating the brew. Since alcohol boils faster than water, the brewer just heats the fermented drink and leaves the desired alcohol level. While removing the alcohol, the process may also change the taste of beer. To avoid this, brewers heat the beer in a vacuum which lowers the drink’s boiling point, minimizing its effect on the flavor of beer.

Another process used to remove alcohol requires more in labor and equipment, better known as reverse osmosis the same method being used for desalinating ocean water. Once the brewer has removed the alcohol, the drink must be re-carbonated often by injecting CO2 back into the drink.

The main reason why non-alcoholic beer does not fare in comparison to the taste of the real beer is that heat is involved.

Know that hops are typically added during three stages of the boiling process. The first is bitter and the next two are piney and citrusy, which are added for aroma. There are beers like the IPA that are dry-hopped; it implies that hops are added when the beer is no longer heating. While the bitterness of the hops gives the drink its malty sweetness, the flavor, as well as the aroma, usually does not survive the heating process.

There are other non-alcoholic beers that have lower contents of bitter hops making them better non-alcoholic beers in a sense. The challenge now for those who make non-alcoholic beers is to build the flavor, the aroma, balance, and body of the drink. Indeed, this is harder to achieve sans alcohol although it is possible.

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