Hello! I’m Tom from Steady Drinker – an independent website and blog that helps you discover great low-alcohol and alcohol-free beers and lagers (under 0.5% ABV) so you can cut down your alcohol intake.
I do this by:
- Reviewing low-alcohol, alcohol-free and non-alcoholic beers and lagers
- Promoting breweries that produce low-alcohol, alcohol-free and non-alcoholic beers and lagers
- Encouraging more shops, cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars to stock quality low-alcohol, alcohol-free and non-alcoholic beers and lagers
I love good real ale and craft beer. But, with a newborn baby to look after, an expanding waistline and hangovers that definitely haven’t improved with age, I’ve decided it’s time to cut down on my alcohol intake.
In the past, this would have meant swapping beer for a sugary fizzy drink, a glass of water or the token tasteless alcohol-free lager that every pub hides at the back of its fridge.
Fortunately, things are changing. And while you still might struggle to get a decent low-ABV beer in the average pub, there are now many non-alcoholic and low-alcohol beers that rival the real thing.
And hundreds of breweries – from the world’s biggest beer brands to artisan microbreweries hidden away on urban trading estates – are getting involved.
Defining non-alcoholic and low alcohol beer
In Europe, any beer under 0.5% is classed as “alcohol free“. Simple.
However, the legal definition of a 0.5% beer in the UK is a little outdated. It defines “alcohol free” as 0.05% or less, while beers between 0.05% and 0.5% are classed as “de-alcoholised”. Strange when you consider that many 0.5% beers haven’t had any alcohol removed from them. “Low alcohol” refers to drinks under 1.2%.
Meanwhile, beers 0.5% or below aren’t classed as alcohol under UK licensing laws (confusing, eh?). This means anyone can buy and sell alcohol-free and “de-alcoholised” beer and breweries don’t pay beer duty on what they produce.
Non-alcoholic beer reviews
All the beers I review come in at under 0.5% ABV. Some of the beers I review don’t have any alcohol at all. I highlight the ABV clearly on each review.
They include everything from small-batch low-alcohol craft beers to alcohol-free beers and lagers from the world’s biggest brewing corporations.
I mark each beer out of 5 on aroma, taste and mouthfeel to give it an overall score out of 10.
Each beer I’ve reviewed is ranked from best to worst.
Benefits of low-alcohol and alcohol-free beer
As a big fan of real ale and craft beer, I’m not anti-alcohol. But I do know there are many benefits to swapping normal-strength beer a low or alcohol-free version.
You’ll stay sober
There are around 0.28 units of alcohol in a pint of 0.5% beer and only microscopic amounts in alcohol-free beer. The average person’s body will process 0.28 units of alcohol in around 17 minutes. Put simply, it processes it as you drink it.
Meanwhile, it would take the average person 2 hours to process the alcohol in a pint of 3.6% beer (about 2 units of alcohol) and more than 3 hours to process the alcohol in a pint of 5.6% beer (around 3.1 units of alcohol).
Even if you can drink a pint of 0.5% beer every quarter of an hour, it won’t take long for this tiny amount of alcohol to leave your body when you stop drinking. Hence, why you can’t get drunk on 0.5% alcohol beer, no matter how much you drink.
You’ll consume less calories
Most low-alcohol and non-alcoholic beers have less calories than higher-ABV drinks. For example, a 330ml bottle of “Nanny State” by Brewdog (0.5%) has just 26 calories compared to 158 calories in the same amount of “Punk IPA” (5.6%).
But, beware of extra ingredients like lactose (a sugar derived from milk) and wheat, which can add extra calories when it’s used in low-alcohol beer.
You’ll spend less
In the UK, brewers pay beer duty on any beer above 1.2% ABV. They usually pass this cost onto you.
This means that low-ABV beers are often cheaper to buy than a similar full-strength beer.
You’ll stay hydrated
Alcohol dehydrates you because it forces your body to produce more urine – you produce around 10ml more urine for every gram of alcohol you drink.
There’s 8g of alcohol in every unit meaning there’s around 22.5g of alcohol in a pint of 3.6% beer. For each pint you drink, you lose an extra 225ml of water (almost half a pint) on top of the liquid you’ve drunk.
Your body has to get that extra water from somewhere. So you become dehydrated. Hence the headache and dry mouth you get with a hangover.
Clearly, beer with no alcohol in it clearly won’t dehydrate you. However, while there’s around 2g of alcohol in a pint of 0.5% beer, experts say that beer up to 2% ABV will rehydrate rather than dehydrate you.