By Lachlan Sorby - BoozeBud Beer Buyer
You don't have to be into keto diets or Chris Hemsworth apps to be conscious about your health. The new wave in 'better for you' beers permits you to enjoy a few cold ones without the guilt (or the beer belly). Yes, you can have your beer and drink it too. Not only can you choose your brew with low or zero alcohol, but there are those with fewer calories than your standard beer, fewer carbs and no or low sugar. For the coeliacs among us, some even come gluten-free. Too good to be true? Unlike the good old days when low-alc beers tasted like insipid day-old tea, the new wave of no and low beers thankfully taste great with full flavour and texture. We challenge you to tell the difference between no and low and standard in a taste test because we can't. Now is the time to embrace clean living while cracking a can at your next barbecue, driving home afterwards and waking up feeling like a million bucks.
BoozeBud has a vast range of beers to choose from across the category, so whatever your shtick, whether it's health, weight, thirst, allergies or an inexplicable obsession with the whites of your eyes, there is a no and low beer for you. Nobody needs to be excluded from the smooth and delicious joys of the amber nectar.
Our top picks:
Everyone's favourite non-alc brewery and a pioneer in the better for you craft beer space. Their latest release, 'Another Lager', is crisp and clean.
For many, a Corona with lime encapsulates their entire beer drinking experience. Well, now you can enjoy the summer vibes of Corona without the alcohol.
A very refreshing non-alc beer that, for many, was their first flirtation with the non-alc craft space. Modus began making top-tier craft beers and is now producing excellent non-alc beers worth the taste.
The talented brewing team launched this 1.1% Hazy Pale and immediately gained traction with the designated drivers. There is just enough alcohol to maintain a velvety mouthfeel and complexity without putting you over the limit.
Not a low or non alc brew, however a strong fan favourite amongst the gluten intolerant BoozeBud staff.
So, what exactly is no and low beer, and how is it made?
In Australia, non-alcoholic beer has less than 0.5% abv or alcohol by volume, and low alcohol beer contains up to 1.15% abv. Back in the good old days, when non-alcoholic beer tasted yuck, the process to remove the alcohol was boiling it off. The problem was it also boiled away flavour, texture and aroma, so low and no-alcohol beers fast earned themselves a bad reputation. Today these excuses for beer are a thing of the past. The modern-day no and low brew is a thing of beauty.
Most commercial processes used to remove alcohol from beer involve either dealcoholisation or limited fermentation, which allow the original beer's flavour and taste to be retained. Dealcoholisation starts with a fully fermented alcoholic beer and puts it through a steam distillation process. First, the beer is placed in a vacuum which lowers the temperature of the beer required for the alcohol to evaporate and then the aromas and flavours are kept intact. Or the beer is put in a vacuum, carefully heated and subject to water vapour or a gas treatment called gas stripping. Sometimes full-strength beer is put through a membrane to separate the water from the alcohol called reverse osmosis. Other ways involve limiting fermentable sugars in the wort, leaving less to convert to alcohol or low-alcohol yeast strains that work to reduce alcohol. If it's all a bit too technical and you just want us to get to the point, producing a low and no alcohol beer requires more technical know-how and passion than regular beer. The point being you are guaranteed a great-tasting beer the brewer is proud to drink.
How do they remove the carbs?
It involves adding something called amyloglucosidase. Try saying that ten times with your eyes closed and a beer in your hand. It is added to the wort at the beginning of the fermentation process, but if the technical jargon above made your eyes bleed and your head hurt, we won't bore you with the chemistry lesson. Just trust us; it works.
And it's better for you! It's simply a great way of consuming the natural ingredients of water, hops, barley, wheat and yeast. Yep, these beers are bursting with vitamins and minerals such as potassium, zinc, folic acid and iron without the negating health impact of alcohol. They are also hydrating instead of dehydrating. Think about that for a moment.