In the middle of everything else that was going on in 2020, I went on some meds that meant I would have to be dry for a few weeks.
Considering all things, it seemed like a long time.
So I decided to grab a six pack of O’Doul’s and sit outside and pretend like everything was fine.
What I found was… it was fine? Like for the afternoon I-was-probably-going-to-have-a-light-pilsner-anyway beer, it was fine. In fact, it was just what I was looking for, AND fewer calories.
And I could have one or two on a Tuesday night and not worry about Wednesday morning. I could have a few at a party and still drive home. If I’d had a real beer or two at dinner, an NA beer let me have one more to stay and visit and not worry.
Fewer calories, less worry, what else do you need?
Oh right. Taste.
But that’s the thing, I found that too. Especially when I stopped looking for beer that tasted like X, and appreciated the NA beer for itself.
I haven’t gone dry, but have added NA Beers to my personal menu, enjoying them for both what they are, and the extra freedom they give me when I enjoy them.
We’ll start with the easy to find stuff, and follow on with more craft beers in a bit. I made a list of the beers I’d had as I was writing this and was happy to see how long it was. The days of two NA beer choices are behind us.
Warnings about NA vs Zero Alcohol
There are, in general, two kinds of NA beers. Non-Alcoholic and Zero Alcoholic. Non- means that the percentage is %0.5 or less. So if for any reason you cannot have any alcohol, these are not for you, as they still may have trace amounts.
Zero alcohol beers (%0.0) are just that, completely free. For some of us this is an important distinction, so I wanted to call it out. I will do my best to label things, but always read the labels of what you are buying to be sure.
Let’s start with the king of NA beers
You may think of O’Doul’s and NA Budweiser, but they taste different. O’Doul’s is smoother and a little sweeter.
It is easy to find, it fills the roll of other American lager/pilsners, and tastes just fine. O’Doul’s is probably my most common NA purchase.
O’Doul’s Amber (<%0.5)
O’Doules has a second version, their Amber, which is also a tasty light beer. Think Killian’s, rather than Dos Equis.
A little harder to find than the original version, I still grab it when I can.
Coors Edge (<%0.5)
While O’Doul’s is the one I get the most, this one is probably my favorite of this style of beer. The Coors has a crisper taste. Recommend giving this one a try, especially if you have an issue with the sweetness of O’Doul’s.
Bud Zero (0.0)
Showing up shortly after I started down this path, Budweiser Zero is a 0.0 version of Bud. It is more bitter than the O’Doul’s, which some may prefer. In the end, tho, I’ll grab O’Doul’s first.
I lovingly refer to this as the IP Nay, which is probably funnier in my head. But say it aloud just in case (NAAAAAY!). This was my first step away from the standard American style beer. Lagunitas’s IPA is a good IPA for those who like the lighter side of the hops. (Like me!) And the IPNA brings that taste with it. Link
Heineken 0.0 (0.0)
The only issue I have with Heineken 0.0 is that it tastes like a Heineken. Quips aside, they should be commended for the faithfulness. If you like Heinekens, this 0.0 beer is for you. link
This is a NA Pils brewed by Guinness. It has a bolder flavor than most of the others on this list, pushing closer in flavor to a Harp than the American style pils. I quite enjoy it.
I was introduced to this one because it was the NA beer my local pub carried. Like Caliber, it is bolder, more flavorful than the standard faire.
Guiness 0 (<%0.5)
(Despite the name, this is NOT a 0.0 beer)
Finding this was an epic quest. I had heard Guinness had a NA beer, but had assumed after my searches the rumors were about Kaliber… Until I started getting ads for this. It was not easy to find, despite the numerous places around that sell normal Guinness, I had to travel over an hour away to get it.
It tastes like Guinness. To be specific it tastes like Guinness in a can. The cans have the nitro bubble in that pops when you open, the beer is smooth and creamy as you’d expect it to be.
I don’t know why this is so hard to find, and I hope that changes.
Santa Clausthaler Christmas
I’m going to end this one with this amazing thing. Those weeks on meds was going to cross through the holiday season, and while Pumpkin beers are still my favorite, a Christmas beer helps in the dark of winter.
One day in the store a red six pack called Santa Clausthaler showed up, and so I thought what the hell.
It was delicious.
Cinnamon and spice, it tasted like Christmas candles smelled.
I didn’t see any for sale in 2021, but hopefully there will be more this year.
Clasusthaler is a NA brewer with other selections as well. Link
I’ll start on the craft NA beers I’ve found, which is pleasantly a growing list.