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The best low-alcohol and non-alcoholic beers to drink in 2022, tested and approved Wine News

“Low-alcohol lager is especially difficult to make right,” says Elkington. “It used to be quite sweet, but now the profile has definitely changed. Same with stout: Guinness Zero was mediocre, but in the second round they’re right.

Independent analysts Statista have valued the global market at around £13 billion in 2020 and projected it to reach £19 billion by 2024. Elkington believes this may be an underestimate, given the remarkable growth in the UK market.

“It’s growing about 30% a year in terms of volume and I don’t see that changing,” says Elkington, who started Dry Drinker as a side business in 2017 while working for a brewery. “I had stopped drinking for a few months and at the time there was only one famous low alcohol beer, which was Becks, so I looked for other beers. Now I have 125 beers on the site and I could probably get 300, there is so much to choose from.

Elkington says the market is now made up of drinkers, not non-drinkers: what some call the “sober-curious.” Interestingly, there are a lot of them in Germany. “Low-alcohol beers are about 12% of the market there,” Elkington says. “On a night out, they drink a few low-alcohol beers, then a few alcoholic beers, then low-alcohol beers again.”

Britain may soon follow. A recent study by the Portman Group found that 24% of UK drinkers want to reduce their alcohol consumption, with this figure rising to almost 31% of 18-24 year olds. Non-alcoholic beer is quickly overtaking low-alcohol varieties in popularity. The trend is clear. All the more reason to find the best of current brews.

How is low alcohol beer made?

There are two ways. One is to remove the alcohol from an existing beer by vaporizing or straining it. The other is to brew normally, but avoid the alcohol content exceeding a certain limit.

“It’s called gravity brewing: you brew down to a certain ABV, which obviously retains the flavor of that particular beer,” Elkington explains. “The majority of UK brewers use this formula.”

Is low alcohol beer better for you?

Yes, if it helps you stay within the UK Chief Medical Officer’s low risk limit of 14 units per week. Beer sold as low alcohol must have less than 1.2% alcohol. To be sold without alcohol, it must have less than 0.05% ABV. This compares to about five percent ABV in the average lager.

Low-alcohol beer also contains fewer calories. “The average number of calories in a non-alcoholic beer is 80 or 90 versus 200 or 300 in a standard beer,” Elkington explains. “That’s because most are low in sugar. There are even sugar-free beers, such as Moritz. There are now specialists in this market.

Low-alcohol beer will also contain the B vitamins, flavonoids, polyphenols, and minerals like potassium and selenium that are naturally present in beer and may have health benefits.

How I tested the best low-alcohol beers

Thanks to recommendations from specialists like Elkington, I browsed through 60 low-alcohol brands. I was looking for an appealing color, complex taste, and a rich, creamy, frothy head that stayed with the beer throughout the glass. More importantly, I was looking for the “aaah” moment: the pleasure of opening a cold beer on the way home from work. Only the best low-alcohol beers can pass this test. Here they are.

The Best Low-Alcohol Beers

1. Erdinger Alcohol Free 500ml

£1.45, Waitrose

Best overall

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This notice was published: 2022-02-07 17:24:00

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