What Is Low-Alcohol Beer?

Low-Alcohol beer is blowing up. More breweries are getting involved meaning better quality and choice

Date: Dec 31, 2020

Low Alcohol Beer


Low-alcohol beer is beer with little or no alcohol content and aims to reproduce the taste of beer while eliminating (or at least reducing) the inebriating effects of standard alcoholic brews. Most low-alcohol beers are lagers, but there are some low-alcohol ales. Low-alcohol beer is also known as light beer, non-alcoholic beer, small beer, small ale, or near-beer.

There is some history

Low-alcoholic brews such as small beer date back at least to Medieval Europe, where they served as a less risky alternative to water (which often was polluted by feces and parasites) and were less expensive than the full strength brews used at festivals.

More recently, the temperance movements and the need to avoid alcohol while driving, operating machinery, taking certain medications, etc. led to the development of non-intoxicating beers.

In the United States, non-alcoholic brews were promoted during Prohibition, according to John Naleszkiewicz. In 1917, President Wilson proposed limiting the alcohol content of malt beverages to 2.75% to try to appease avid prohibitionists. In 1919, Congress approved the Volstead Act, which limited the alcohol content of all beverages to 0.5%. These very low alcohol beverages became known as tonics, and many breweries began brewing them in order to stay in business during Prohibition. Since removing the alcohol from the beer requires just one simple extra step, many breweries saw it as an easy change. In 1933, when Prohibition was repealed, breweries easily removed this extra step.

By the 1980s and 1990s, growing concerns about alcoholism led to the growing popularity of "light" beers. In the 2010s, breweries have focused on marketing low-alcohol beers to counter the popularity of homebrew. Declining consumption has also led to the introduction of mass-market non-alcoholic beverages, dubbed as "near beer". Low-alcohol and alcohol-free bars and pubs have also started to open to cater for drinkers of non-alcoholic beverages, such as Scottish brewer BrewDog's London bar opened in early 2020.

In the UK, the introduction of a lower rate of beer duty for low-strength beer (of 2.8% ABV or less) in October 2011 spurred many small brewers to revive old small beer styles and create higher-hopped craft beers at the lower alcohol level to be able to lower the cost of their beer to consumers.

At the start of the 21st century, alcohol-free beer has seen a rise in popularity in the Middle East (which now makes up a third of the market). One reason for this is that Islamic scholars issued fatawa which permitted the consumption of beer as long as large quantities could be consumed without getting drunk.

Pros & Cons

Positive features of non-alcoholic brews include the ability to drive after consuming several drinks, the reduction in alcohol-related illness, and less severe hangover symptoms. Low and alcohol free beers are usually lower in calories than equivalent full strength beers.

Some common complaints about non-alcoholic brews include a loss of flavor, addition of one step in the brewing process, sugary taste, and a shorter shelf life. There are also legal implications. Some state governments, e.g. Pennsylvania, prohibit the sale of non-alcoholic brews to persons under the age of 21. A study conducted by the department of psychology at Indiana University said, "Because non-alcoholic beer provides sensory cues that simulate alcoholic beer, this beverage may be more effective than other placebos in contributing to a credible manipulation of expectancies to receive alcohol", making people feel "drunk" when physically they are not.

Regulations

  • In the United States, beverages containing less than 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV) were legally called non-alcoholic, according to the now-defunct Volstead Act. Because of its very low alcohol content, non-alcoholic beer may be legally sold to people under age 21 in many American states.
  • In the United Kingdom, the term Low-alcohol is not more than 1.2% ABV.
  • In some parts of the European Union, beer must contain no more than 0.5% ABV if it is labelled "alcohol-free".
  • In Australia, the term "light beer" refers to any beer with less than 3.5% alcohol.


The Sober Curious Movement

Per Vox: "Nearly 40 percent of global consumers reported a desire to decrease alcohol consumption for health reasons". More people every day is joining to the Sober Curious movement.

The "Sober Curious Movement" simply means that you've chosen to avoid alcohol for personal or wellness reasons. This movement made up mostly of people in their 30s & 40s who want to have fun and make friends drinking socially without alcohol.


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Information Source & Credits: https://en.wikipedia.org

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