Beer has been around for centuries and is the world’s most consumed beverage of any type besides water and tea. That’s really crazy to think about, but it makes sense. Beer is easy to make and is cheap to produce. People around the world love beer, and it’s a big part of many cultures and the lives of millions.
It’s an alcoholic drink by nature, but people’s love of beer goes far beyond the alcohol content. Sure, some or even most people drink beer because it’s a refreshing beverage with a kick, or even to actually get drunk, but many people drink beer first and foremost because they enjoy the taste and variety that brewers can create. For people who are recovering from alcoholism, this aspect of beer may turn out to be the feature they actually miss most.
Enter the craft non-alcoholic beer movement. Although non-alcoholic beer has been around since Prohibition, it’s experiencing a boon today in 2019. In fact, some believe that the global non-alcoholic beer market will double as soon as 2024. This demand is leading to and resulting in some celebrated brews that even non-drinkers and people in recovery can enjoy.
Be forewarned; non-alcoholic beer can be triggering for some people in recovery, so consider carefully if it’s right for you. However, if you simply miss the taste of beer, and feel that you are at a strong and stable point in your recovery from alcohol abuse, the craft non-alcoholic beer movement may be great news to you.
How Non-Alcoholic Beer Is Made
According to a very informative beer article on Gizmodo.com, non-alcoholic beer starts out as normal beer and goes almost all the way through the entire production process. It’s because of this fact that non-alcoholic craft beer brewers are able to make quality beers without alcohol in the first place. Brewers make a mash, boil wort, add hops, and even ferment. However, rather than being bottled, canned, or kegged at that point, non-alcoholic beer goes through another step in which the alcohol in it is removed from it.
There are a few methods to removing the alcohol from beer, but the most common is through heating it. Beer has a lower boiling point than water, so it only needs to be heated to 173 degrees Fahrenheit instead of 212 degrees. Still, this heating can change the taste of the finished product dramatically due to the fact that the ingredients are cooked a second time.
Another option that some breweries use to avoid this is called vacuum distilling. This lowers the boiling point of the beer even further, to 120 degrees, which helps the beer keep its flavor during the process.
Still another process non-alcoholic brewers use is reverse osmosis which distills the alcohol out of the beer, leaving a syrupy substance that has to be remixed with water to create the final non-alcoholic beer product.
In either case, the beer at this point is non-alcoholic, but it is also not carbonated. Flat beer is not really beer at all. Beer with alcohol carbonates in the bottle as the fermentation process completes, but in the case of non-alcoholic beer, the carbonation must be added by injecting CO2 into the product, like one would do with a soda.
Although even the best non-alcoholic beer will taste different due to lack of alcohol, skilled brewers can get it pretty close to the original taste through these methods – and that has launched this movement and has already helped to bolster the growing popularity of this new beverage trend.
It’s Not Just for Non-Drinkers Anymore
The immediately assumption when someone was seen drinking a non-alcoholic beer in the past was that he or she was in recovery. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with that, but due to the little attention put upon non-alcoholic beer in the past, non-alcoholic beer usually didn’t taste very good, and was therefore avoided by almost everyone.
The new craft non-alcoholic beer is an entirely different animal. This beer is being enjoyed by all kinds of people. Some of the people who drink it are in recovery but others enjoy beer with alcohol in it as well. They are more interested in the flavor and the brewing process, the individuality of different breweries and personality of different beers. Some people drink it because they want a break from alcohol, others alternate non-alcoholic beers with regular ones.
A number of breweries nationwide are embracing this trend and there are more than a few non-alcoholic craft breweries around the country. Some sell limited edition non-alcoholic brews direct to subscribers, others sell to distributors and their products can be purchased in stores. Investors are also getting wind of the trend and brave and entrepreneurial non-alcoholic brewers rarely have difficulty finding funding for their ideas.
Some of the most well-known non-alcoholic breweries brewing right now include Athletic Brewing Company of Stratford, Connecticut, Bravus Brewing Company of Newport Beach, CA, and Wellbeing Brewing of Maryland Heights, MO. Partake Brewing, located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada also brews non-alcoholic beer that they market in the USA.
If the concept of non-alcoholic beer sounds interesting to you, perhaps you’d like to give it a try. However, do remember how important your recovery is, and how far you have come. If you feel that indulging in even non-alcoholic beer might be risky or detrimental to your sobriety, then you should pass. There are plenty of beverages out there to quench your thirst, and as you know, beer is truly not necessary at all. But for those who can partake, this is an interesting trend, and it will be interesting to watch it grow and advance in the near and distant future.
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