HOME > Chowhound > Beer >

Discussion

Best non-alcoholic beer???

I am unhappily restricted to not drinking alcohol for the immediate future so, because I do love beer, I wonder what your experience has been with some of the non-alcoholic beers?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Clausthaler seems to be the best of the big names. Would love to hear if there are any lesser known ones out there.

    1 Reply
    1. re: wutzizname

      I second Clausthaler, although Saint Pauli Girl N/A is also pretty good.

    2. I like Buckler (imported from Holland by Heineken)
      * BeerAdvocate only gives it a "C" http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/...

      I've had Kaliber (imported from Ireland by Guinness)
      * yyd notes: it tastes like toast.
      * bottle notes: "Kaliber is a premium non-acoholic ale style brew imported from the makers of Guinness. The rich amber color and full-body delivers all the taste of a beer with less alcohol."
      * BeerAdvocate gives Kaliber a "C-" http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/...

      1. I always drink Corona to sober up after drinking; but I think there is some trace alcohol in there, so this might not be what you're looking for.

        When I give up drinking for periods of time, I enjoy Kombucha tea. It's fermented with yeast, so it has a vaguely familiar taste, and it's quite refreshing. Supposedly, it's also good for you.

        1. I think you'll find a thread on this if you search.

          O'Doul's Amber is an Oktoberfest. Erdinger is a hefeweizen. Both are good, I think because they're not hoppy styles, and hops seem to come off harsh in NA beers.

          Einbecker is also good.

          1. I too was unhappily restricted for a period and I tried all except St Pauli Girl N/A. I have to say the the best one I tried was Odouls Amber. Nothing will give you the taste you are really looking for though. You might also try coffee or a strong tea. They will unnerve your taste buds as well as give you a little rush if your not used to drinking them.

            1. I recently became intolerant to alcohol myself, so had to do my own search and found that there are a lot of really bad non alcoholic beers. and only a few I think are drinkable. Clausthaler Amber is my favorite, its hard to find but definitely worth it. second would be the standard Clausthaler, its a bit heavy on the hops for some people but since I tend to like hoppy IPAs it works for me,
              if as is the case a lot my local liquor store doesnt carry clausthaler I drink ODoul's Amber.

              I had high hopes for Kaliber since I love Guinness but it has strong sweet malt aftertaste that I found obnoxious.

              9 Replies
              1. re: willdupre

                I like St. Pauli Girl and Beck's NA's the best. They do come off with a very subtle, oddly sweet taste but sometimes it really beats drinking tap water, soda, juice, tea, etc.

                I got into drinking NA beer (in addition to continuing to drink and brew a wide variety of standard- and high-alcohol beers) because my parents have been drinking them for years and sometimes I want a beer taste without the alcohol effects.

                My parents complain vehemently about O'Doul's, especially if they want a beer and the restaurant only has O'Doul's. They'll turn down an O'Doul's if that's the only thing available, even if they really want a beer. Sharps is the lowest-grade NA beer they'll drink. They like Buckler, Clausthaler and Kaliber, but I don't.

                The recently returned from a trip to Ireland and have been raving about NA's from Paulaner, Erdinger, and Holsten, especially the hefeweizen's. Tthe dude at my local Total Wine looked at me like I had two heads when I asked if they could be special ordered. It looks like at least the Paulaner and Erdinger NA's are distributed in the US. Any suggestions how to get them?

                My brother-in-law has never had an alcoholic beverage and likes Busch NA, but there's no accounting for his taste.

                1. re: awtoner

                  Erdinger NA is definitely sold in the US, and I'd be surprised if that wasn't the case with Paulaner.

                  1. re: Jim Dorsch

                    Anyone know where Erdinger NA is sold in North Carolina?

                    1. re: Jim DuPree

                      Here's the US importer- they'll be able to tell if you they have distributors in NC.

                      http://www.mhwltd.com/contact.html

                      1. re: Jim DuPree

                        Sams Quick Spot in Durham....near Duke. Imagine that, a great beer store near a university. Just stocked up on Erdiner the other day. I have tried them all and it is the best. Enjoy!

                        1. re: Jim DuPree

                          Raleigh Times Bar/Restaurant in Raleigh. Wide selection of beers, including Erdinger NA , good food and nice staff.

                      2. re: awtoner

                        Beck's and St. Pauli are my preferred NAs as well. Paulaner and Buckler aren't bad. O'Doul's I've tried on several occasions, and it just seems really bland, even the amber.

                      3. re: willdupre

                        Erdinger is my favorite but can't buy it close where I live in North Carolina.

                      4. My husband really enjoys Old Milwaukee N/A. Although it is a cheaper beer, he's tried all the others & still reverts back to this one.

                        1. I've tried quite a bit of NA beer and it is hands down Clausthaler Amber for me. I switch back and forth from regular beer to Clausthaler and I never feel like I am getting less than a beer. Also like the Clausthaler regular but was thrilled when they made an amber NA.
                          St Pauli Girl is also good but ranks a very distant third.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: needwinehelp

                            Agree with Claus. Amber. It's hard to find, but worth seeking out--if you must go NA.

                          2. Because of recent health issues I was told I had to quit drinking because the health issues were mostly related to my love of beer as I am an every day beer drinker & on days might drink as much as a half of a thirty pack & in trying to quit it was only a couple of days before I was about to give in to having a few beers & years ago I tried a brand of N/A beer can't remember which brand but it was terrible but really wanting a beer & about ready to give in to a regular beer I decided to give the N/A beer another try & searched the web to find what N/A beers were supposed to be the best & when I got to the distributor with the top three most popular searches they only one out of the three that I wrote down & it was O'Douls Amber & they also had the regular O'Douls but that had very low ratings in my search & I am mostly a can beer drinker {30 packs} but all they had was bottles in the O'Douls Amber which makes it a little more pricey but I decided to splurge & buy it to give it a try thinking in my head I'll probably take a couple of mouthfuls of one & dump it out & go & grab a regular beer but as soon as I got home really wanting a beer I hurried & popped one open & took a couple of mouthfuls & I'm A Keystone {red can} drinker & it didn't taste like a Keystone but I found it to have a very pleasant regular beer like taste it reminded me very much of a Pittsburgh Iron City bottle of beer I was pleasantly surprised & it wasn'y until I drank most of the first bottle before I really starting noticing it lacked the taste of alcohol as it has less than half a percent of alcohol but I found the little bit of alcohol that is in it was enough to give it a hint of an alcohol taste, I drank eight O'Douls that first night & never craved for a regular beer while drinking them & was very surprised that my Love of Beer was being satisfied by an N/A beer. It wasn't until I drank a few of the O'Douls before I started noticing any kind of an after taste & still with the little bit of after taste I did notice I still found it to be very good for a N/A beer. As mentioned above I just recently started drinking O'Douls but have not been craving the regular beer as the O'Douls has been keeping those cravings satisfied & I have also been finding it a little nice to be able to drink & safely get in the car & drive as well as not getting stupid & I still might have a few regular beers on ocassion but I will probably only drink a few then switch to O'Douls but so far I haven't been missing the buzz that comes with drinking regular beer so for someone that is trying to or has to quit or cut back on their alcohol consumption or is driving I would highly recommend trying O'Douls Amber to see if it satisfies your beer drinking desires.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: thefourcs

                              Birell was the only one I ever bought, it was the only one with any noticable hop presence. Apparently no US brewer currently has a license to brew it (owned by Carlsberg now).

                            2. If I had to give up beer, I would drink Malta soda. Look for it in markets which specialize in Latin Amerian foods. Malta is the doppelbock of sodas!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Kenji

                                This is true, but they're mighty sweet, probably more than most doppels.

                              2. Perhaps 15 years ago I got a bottle of non-alcoholic Issumer Alt from Germany. It was very complete tasting and gave little indication of being non-alcoholic. Great flavor, very well brewed. Haven't seen it since.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Tripeler

                                  According to Wikipedia.de, that beer is now called Diebels Alkoholfrei (Diebels is the name of the brewery). Doesn't look like they're available in the States, but maybe there are some Germans out there looking to set up a little foreign exchange program. How'd you get that bottle 15 years ago anyway?

                                  1. re: severino

                                    I live in Japan, and bought it in Tokyo. Still, it was unique, but not really worth seeking out again since I normally drink beer with alcohol. But thanks so much for the information.

                                2. My husband's been drinking NA beer for 7 years, and as an non-NA beer drinker, Cheers Preta (a dark NA beer imported from Portugal) has been my favorite of the ones he's tried:

                                  http://www.alcoholfree.co.uk/product_...

                                  We used to be able to get it very inexpensively in the Portuguese-Spanish-Brazilian grocery store in our neighborhood in Newark NJ, hut I haven't seen it there for a while and have never seen it anywhere else (sadly enough...)

                                  1. I too drink non-alcoholic beer maybe for different reasons. I have been drinking Texas Select NA for a number of years and love it. It has been around for a long time and many of my friends tell me they drink it as well. Good luck with your temporary restriction to the NA lifestyle. For more info you can go to their Facebook page at Texas Select.

                                    1. Clausthaler is the best NA beer by far. It is the only NA beer that really tastes like beer. Becks is a distant second followed by St. Pauli Girl. Kaliber is better than the rest but has a sickly sweet taste. Buckler is acceptable in an emergency but the rest (Sharps, Coors, Odouls, Busch) are terrible - I'd rather drink Alka Seltzer.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: levester1

                                        Of course this is all, by definition, a matter of taste. But for a second opinion on two of those mentioned, I find Clausthaler far inferior to Becks and St.Pauli Girl. And Kaliber - well it's supposed to be sweet as it is the "kid brother" of the incomparable Guinness Stout. Of course, if you don't like stouts/porters you won't like Kaliber.

                                      2. I just discovered a NA beer that is as good, if not better, than Clausthaler, my previous favorite. It is Gerstel, brewed in Mannheim, Germany by Privatbrauerei Eicbaum. Distributed by a California company, it is hard to find here in the Carolinas.

                                        1. The best ones i have had so far have been Arcobrau NA, Erdinger NA, and Kaliber. I tried the O'Doul's Amber and it was like barley water. Very disappointed. I found the Erdinger at Southern Seasons in Chapel Hill, NC and the others at Total Wine in Durham. The Arcobrau was a really tasty weiss but kind of pricy at 11 dollars a 6 pack.

                                          1. Hello , I'm new here on CHOW (15 mins.) and sseing this discussion board made me sign up..
                                            I've been having this non-alcohlic beer talk with people for the past week. I've tried most all the ones mentioned here and I would swear that they ALL have the EXACT same taste and I've drank beer for 36 years,till now ,6 months,and they all, well....suck. Why call them non-alcoholic beers ? They DON'T TASTE A THING LIKE "BEER' I MIGHT AS WELL CALL MY MILK NON-ALCOHOLIC ,,,,IT DOESN'T TASTE LIKE BEER EITHER.The best part of getting a six pack of the St.Paulies and Becks was the .60 cent deposit I got back after dumping out 5 bottles of each. That's right....couldn't Give it away ! Thank you for your suggestions.. I'm going to try the Erdiner and the Gerste if I can find it.I will even try the Old Millwaukee,,lol it can't possibly be worse than the real stuff! "can" it ?

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: tony2ya

                                              Well, lately i've had a few of the O'douls and i'd say they taste better than Miller Lite. Yeah, it doesn't say much about miller Lite.

                                              1. re: tony2ya

                                                When I was about 15 and first tried beers that ranged from Pilsner Urquell to Michelob I thought they all tasted the same too. Experience develops a palate, refines tastes and allows distinctions to be made where the rank beginner sees no differences.

                                              2. The only non-alcoholic beer that I have ever drunk that is indistinguishable from alcoholic beer (except for the effect of alcohol) is Radegast Birell. I drank it for years in Prague Czech Republic.
                                                Does anyone know where I can find it in the vicinity of New York City?

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: jerryhnewman

                                                  I found www.sabmiller.com ,jerry.They have Radegast Birell on their site. A whole lot of really interesting stuff about it.Sorry I don't have one minute right now to read more on availability and so forth. Just wanted to get this off to you ! Thank you for that suggestion,, I will look at site later. Czech it out !!!!

                                                  1. re: jerryhnewman

                                                    Birell is brewed under license all over the world (Coopers in Australia and Heineken in Egypt among others, it was also brewed in the US by Schmidt's of Phila., Pabst, Matt and I think in the end the short-lived Heileman spin-off, Evansville Brewing Co. into the 1990's).

                                                    It was originally created by the Swiss company Hurlimann, now defunct (brands owned by Carlsberg), which was once best known for it's Samichlaus Beer - for a time the strongest lager in the world. The Birell label brewed in the US once boasted of using Brewer's Gold hops, and was quite hoppy for a NA. but, reading reviews, it seems that the local brewer is free to change the recipe and some reviews for various versions note little to no hop flavor.

                                                    SABMiller is a multinational brewing conglomerate and it's US subsidiary, MillerCoors, usually imports it's brands and I haven't seen Birell in the US in many years. It's possible that the license to brew Birell does not allow it to be exported and thus possibly compete with other licensees' versions.

                                                    1. re: JessKidden

                                                      Great info. Jess. Nice to see such an in-depth follow up. I am sure to come back here for future threads. I will be sure to stay tuned here on a more regular basis. People like You make it real and enjoyable. Hope I can contribute more often . Thank You .

                                                  2. 1. Thomas Brau. A little sweet but very flavorful. Good in the winter. Tastes like beer!
                                                    2. Becks.
                                                    3. St Pauli Girl
                                                    4. Gerstel. Not very good
                                                    5. Buckler Not good
                                                    Everything else I've tried is dreck.

                                                    Haven't tasted Clausthaler recently but I don't remember it as special.
                                                    O'Doul's is rank stuff. Ugh!

                                                    3 Replies
                                                      1. re: levester1

                                                        Thomas Brau is made by Paulaner, so it shouldn't be too hard to find.

                                                      2. re: Spike Costa

                                                        I pretty much agree with your list although I have not tried Gerstel. Bittburger is my favorite hands down-in fact it is so good I'd take an ice cold one of these over any regular beer. Thomas Brau is next in line. IMO, these two NA beers are head and shoulders above anything else I have tried. Buckler, St. Pauli Girl, Becks, Clausthaler are probably all next in line and then Kaliber is a half step down from those. I agree that O' Douls is bad and I'm always annoyed when that is the only NA beer a restaurant carries-so much so that I won't drink it. Sharps is no better. I'll have to try the Gerstel you mentioned.

                                                      3. Unless you are restricted to absolutely zero alcohol, add one ounce of a good quality lager or ale (I like Smithwicks and Old Peculiar) to 12 ounces of any top NA brand such as Clausthaler, Becks or St. Pauli) and you have a very drinkable and tasty brew. With Smithwicks (4.4% alcohol) you wind up with a mix of about 0.8% alcohol (a little over 0.10 ounce of alcohol) if my math is right.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: levester1

                                                          That's what I get, assuming the NA is 0.5%, and it can be less than half that if the NA actually contains no alcohol.

                                                        2. What's a good NA beer that comes in a can? I want something I can take on a camping trip, bottled beer seems impractical.

                                                          1. Hands down best IMO is the Czech made Bernard non-alcoholic varieties (http://www.bernard.cz/en/). I see Birell mentioned by quite a few here, but in the Czech Republic (where I'm currently living) it is not considered tops, but it is widely available because it comes from SABMiller and is sold everywhere. Bernard non-alcoholic comes in variety of types including an outstanding dark beer and a couple of fruited non-alcoholic verisons (cherry or plum).

                                                            After Bernard, the non-alcoholic of choice is Lobkowicz (http://www.pivovary-lobkowicz.cz/o-nas/).

                                                              1. I recently tried Erdinger Weissbier Alkoholfrei and Clausthaler Amber NA. Both were disappointing. Although I like standard weissbiers, Erdinger offered nothing to make we want to drink another. Clausthaler Amber was OK but not great.

                                                                For me it is still Clausthaler NA, Beck's and St. Pauli NA's tied for a distant 2nd, then nothing else is worth drinking.

                                                                1. I never thought I'd say anything good about Anheuser Busch but believe it or not, O'Douls Amber (RED LABEL) is actually quite tasty. AVOID THE GREEN LABEL. I still mix an ounce or two of regular beer (I like Smithwick's, only 4.4% alcohol) with it to kill any trace of cereal taste.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: levester1

                                                                    Don't know if it's changed, but O'Doul's Amber started life as an NA Oktoberfest beer, and was pretty good. Have not had it in quite some time.

                                                                  2. O'Doul's Amber can at least be found without much trouble and taste's pretty good...well, really good.

                                                                    1. I too have been stuck without reg. beer for 6 years and have found Buckler to be near the best NA. It isn't real beer so no use comparing but it is far better than all (I've tried them all, believe me) others that try to pretend they are real beer (Claushaler et al.). Beck's and St. Pauli's get skunky real fast. Kaliber is an acquired taste. There really isn't really a good domestic NA: Busch is minimally passable (better than O'Douls) as is Old Mil; Labatt's is a lower-case ok, certainly the best Canadian; Sharps and O'Douls are bland and good for one can only-if that.

                                                                      The thing to remember is that NA is NOT beer (they call it brew or beverage) so it is a mistake to compare it to beer. To say Ï don't like it because it doesn't taste like beer" is kind of silly. What one must do is develop a new criteria of comparison and then say... oh well.

                                                                      Hmm, admittedly I've never tried Brau or Gerstel that I recall. Off I go.

                                                                      1. I have been drinking NA beer since 1978, and I've had most of 'em. Clausthaler, Paulaner, and most of the Americans. But for my money and taste, one of the best that I've ever tasted is the Canadian-made President's Choice Red Brew. I brought some home and it even fooled some of my beer-head friends. When properly chilled, it is very good!

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Nicktal

                                                                          Thanks for the tip, hope I can find it.

                                                                          1. re: Nicktal

                                                                            The Blonde PC Brew isn't bad either and at $5-6 a case it's a steal. I think the trick to drinking non-alcoholic beer is to make sure you do something to it that you wouldn't do to a great beer. Don't try and fool yourself that you're drinking beer because you'll be let down every time. Add some Rose's Lime Cordial for a shandy, or some Wink or sparkling grapefruit to make a Radler.

                                                                            1. re: Nicktal

                                                                              I kind of like the idea of adding Lime or something to NA. I'll try that.

                                                                              1. re: Nicktal

                                                                                I kind of like the idea of adding Lime or something to NA. I'll try that. Sounds good

                                                                              2. Einbecker. No contest. Second place: O'Doul's Amber.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: 81fried

                                                                                  Einbecker--if "no contest" based on what? Amber--so middle of the road; by far better than regular O'D, but for a bit more beer flavor Busch is better (as is Nordic and at the right temperature even Sharps). Shame that domestic stuff can't complete with European.

                                                                                  Just ran into this:
                                                                                  120 N/A
                                                                                  Schmohz Brewing, Grand Rapids
                                                                                  A micro-brewed non-alcoholic malt beverage expertly crafted for conscientious consumers.
                                                                                  (Non-Alcoholic < 0.5% ABV)

                                                                                  very hoppy if you like that, but I didn't have time to savor so can't judge it yet (I think I'm a conscientious consumer).

                                                                                  billshea

                                                                                2. I prefer St. Pauli girl. I drank it for a while during a recovery from gallbladder surgery.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: alliegator

                                                                                    StP is good , not great. Shame it gets skunky so fast. Personally I like a bit of an aftertaste in NA because without it a lot of NA is just flavored water, particularly domestic stuff. StP lacks the aftertaste (it is really a post-taste; aftertaste has such a bad connotations). Not to suggest that Buckler is the best--it is my favorite...currently.

                                                                                    billshea