Non-alcoholic beer, also known as near beer or a malted beverage, has a remarkably long, if not always distinguished, pedigree.
With the American alcohol prohibition in 1919, brewing beer containing more than 0.5 percent alcohol became illegal. To get around these legal difficulties, the major American brewers, including Anheuser-Busch, Miller, Pabst and Schlitz, together with regional brewers, started to produce low alcohol content malted beverages to replace beer.
These malted beverages, which could not be marketed as beer, rapidly became known to the drinking public as “near beer. ” Some chroniclers of beer in the USA claim that the American brewing industry has never fully recovered from the effects of prohibition, because nowadays many of its products lack the flavor and body of their European counterparts. A comparison between the flavor and texture of American Budweiser beer and the original Czech Budveiser beer highlights this concern.
Non-Alcoholic Beer Is Alcoholic
In spite of the name, non-alcoholic beer does contain some alcohol (up to 0.5 percent) as a result of the way that it”s produced.
Just like real beer, non-alcoholic beer is brewed using malted grain and hops. However, at the end of the brewing process, measures are taken to reduce the alcohol content of the mixture.
Commonly, beer is gently heated under reduced pressure. Because ethanol (alcohol) has a lower boiling point than water, more ethanol evaporates than water, resulting in a lower alcohol content for the final product. However, the process of heating the mixture adversely affects the taste of the beer.
Alternatively, alcohol can be filtered from the brewed liquid by forcing it through a membrane at high pressure. Anheuser-Busch brews ODouls using this method. Although heat is not applied in this process, filtered beers such as ODouls don”t have any flavor advantage over other non-alcoholic beers like Kaliber, Clausthaler or Buckler, which are produced using evaporation techniques.
Is Non-Alcoholic Beer Healthy?
With the launch of the current generation of non-alcoholic beers, brewers have often attempted to persuade consumers that their non-alcoholic beers are healthier than regular beers. The scientific community has mixed messages about the degree to which non-alcoholic beer is healthy or unhealthy.
Some researchers have found powerful evidence that non-alcoholic beer can trigger recovering alcoholics to relapse by causing effects similar to those of real beer, which increase dopamine levels in the brain. On the other hand, research from Japanese scientists claims that drinking non-alcoholic beer in moderation can reduce the risks of cancer and heart disease.
Driving After Drinking Non-Alcoholic Beer
Drivers should be wary when drinking non-alcoholic beer. If the non-alcoholic beer you”re drinking contains 0.1 percent alcohol, you can, in theory, drink five times more than if you”re drinking beer with 0.5 percent alcohol, before you reach your alcohol limit. The conclusion is clear: drivers should read the label on their non-alcoholic beer before they start drinking and always remember that non-alcoholic beers do contain some alcohol.