The Best Tasting and Value Non-Alcoholic Beers

So you feel like having a beer on a “school night” but have a big day tomorrow with a presentation first thing in the morning. Or you are celebrating dry January, trying to cut back alcohol consumption, need to drive a car soon or are pregnant. Now what? Well you are in luck as the low and no alcohol beers of today actually taste like beer. Some are very beer like and others are well a bit strange tasting. To save you the trouble of having to try all of them here are some I have tried along with tasting notes and value ratings.

Are they non-alcoholic? No, they are all have trace amounts of alcohol ranging from 0.03% to 0.5%. The former is called zero and the latter is called NA. If you are pregnant or lactating the zero may be the way to go so as not to harm your child. If you just want to keep a clean head for driving or for work either one will do. If you are recovering alcoholic skip these are they may be too close to what you crave and set you on the path to ruin.

I will say that many of the non alcoholic beers do taste similar to their full alcohol brethren. This only makes sense as they come from the same brewery and use the same ingredients. So if you are a die hard Coors Light guy or gal perhaps you want to seek that one out. The same goes for Heineken fans or Bitburger fans.

In terms of price they beers seem to fall into two camps: Moderately priced domestics at around $6 per six pack or $11 for 12 cans. Or pricey imports at $9 to $12 per six pack, sometimes being on special for $7. To me this is a bit much to pay for for NA beer but I will buy them if on sale. I am not even willing to pay $10 for a full alcohol beer six pack so that is a bit of a deal breaker for Mr. Frugal here on a NA beer.

Non-alcoholic beers are big in some countries like Germany where they are considered healthy. In other countries with strict drunk driving laws like say Sweden or places where alcohol is forbidden like Saudi Arabia they are also popular. These were the early adopters but now the rest of the world seems to be catching up. I used to laugh at them when they first came out but after the wife became pregnant with child I tried them and some were ok. Later I decided to try again as I felt like a beer but with 7 am presentation on deck to senior executives NA was the way to go on a Tuesday night. School night beer!

Without further delay onto the ratings.

Domestic American beers: The Big 3

O’Douls Green label:

The Bud Light of NA beers as in good value and easy to drink. 0.5% alcohol. Watery, limited hops taste and light yet refreshing. You could drink several of these on a hot day. I found this to be the best value when bought as 12 pack cans for around $11. Excellent value. A bit sweet.

  • Price $6 per six pack of 12 oz bottles
  • 0.5% ABV.
  • Taste Rating 3.5/5
  • Value Rating: 5/5

Coors Edge & Coors NA:

I was expecting it to taste like Coors regular beer instead it was Coors Light ish. Watery yet having real beer flavor and not very hoppy. It was cheap at $6 per six pack of bottles. I consider this a good value. It seems to me Coors Edge is the same as Coors NA with new packaging. Either that or it is very similar. A good value for the money. Above is the new and below is the old packaging.

  • Price $6 per six pack of 12 oz bottles
  • 0.5% ABV.
  • Taste Rating 4/5
  • Value Rating: 5/5

O’Douls Amber Red Label:

This one I had just this week so the taste and texture are fresh in my mind. Malty and surprisingly heavy. Lack a hops bite. 100 kcal per bottle so it is no lightweight for those watching their waist lines. If you like a malty beer this is the one for you. A good value but a bit heavy for me.

  • Price $6 per six pack of 12 oz
  • 0.5% ABV.
  • Taste Rating 3/5
  • Value Rating: 4/5

Miller Sharps:

I have not seen this one in the stores around me for years. I am not sure if it is still made. It was ok from what I recall but not great. It had a very Miller High Life or MGD taste to it but more malty. I thought it was worse than Coors and O’Douls but I think the same of Bud heavy and Coors Light being better than MGD or High Life so it is personal preference

  • Price $6 per six pack of 12 oz
  • 0.5% ABV.
  • Taste Rating 2.5/5
  • Value Rating: 3.5/5

Bud Zero

This is a new product and intriguing given I normal like Budweiser Heavy and consider it the best of the American macro beers. The best of a mediocre bunch if you will. I have seen facings of this in the grocery store but it is always sold out. Maybe that is a good sign? It has only 50kcal per the label so will be beer water.

  • Price $12 per 12 pack of 12 oz cans
  • 0% ABV.
  • Taste Rating TBD
  • Value Rating: TBD

More real beer taste …..at a price

Heineken Zero:

Here is one I tried just this week. Snappy, bright, refreshing and bit astringent just like regular Heineken. It tastes close to Heineken regular so if you like that kind of Euro pale lager you will like this. I put down the six pack of these pretty quick over the course of a week so they must have been good. The only thing I was not keen on was the regular price but they were on sale for $6.99 for 6. I like everything about this except the price!

  • Price $9 per 6 pack of bottles
  • 0% ABV.
  • Taste Rating 5/5
  • Value Rating: 4/5

Bitburger Zero/ Bitburger Drive:

This one I also tried this week. A good German pilsner with a hoppy bite. It tasted like Bitburger somewhat so I could tell there was a family resemblance. Easy to drink and really tastes like real beer. I like Bitburger regular beer and this was spot on for an NA. Good taste but high price.

  • Price $10 per 6 pack of bottles
  • 0% ABV
  • Taste Rating 5/5
  • Value rating: 4/5

Erdinger Hefe Weizen:

A hefeweizen unfiltered wheat that was a bit sweet with less bite than the regular hefe version. It has suspended yeast like a hefe should so it will not be low calorie. Warning to the waist watchers. It was however very good and bready.

  • Price $11 per 6 pack of bottles
  • 0% ABV
  • Taste Rating 5/5
  • Value Rating 4/5

Clausthaler:

This one is popular with many but I did not particularly care for it especially given the steep price. It was ahoppy and malty and thin all at the same time. Perhaps the dry hopped version is the better of the two variants. Personally I prefer the Bitburger for a German Pilsener style.

  • Price $12 per 6 pack of bottles
  • 0% ABV
  • Taste Rating 4/5
  • Value Rating: 3/5

Kaliber:

From the makers of Harp (Guinness light lager). It tasted a bit like Harp which is a decent pale lager but was more malty based on my recollection.

  • Price $11per 6 pack
  • 0% ABV.
  • Rating 4/5
  • Value rating: 3/5

Becks NA:

I like Becks and think it is a good value in full alcohol form at $15 for 12 bottles. If the NA variant is anything close to the real one that is good. But it does seem pricey.

  • Price $9 per 6 pack
  • 0% ABV.
  • Rating TBD
  • Value rating: TBD

St. Pauli NA:

St. Pauli is also a Becks product for the American market. It is not the same as Becks but more malty in full alcohol form and a good value at $15 for 12 bottles. Some say it is sold in Europe as Becks Gold. I can see that being the case. Now how the NA version tastes is unknown as I have not seen it in the stores here but I am eager to try as I like St. Pauli.

  • Price $10 per 6 pack
  • 0% ABV.
  • Rating TBD
  • Value Rating: TBD

Buckler :

A Heineken product. I am not sure if this has been superseded by Heineken Zero but I have not seen it in the stores for quite some time. I did have it a number of years and ago and recall it being decent tasting, perhaps sort of like Amstel Light.

  • Price $10 per 6 pack
  • 0% ABV.
  • Rating 4/5
  • Value rating: 3/5

Labatt NA:

This one has promise given Labatt is a decent Canadian macro beer. It may in fact be the best Canadian macro beer there of their big three brewers (Molson and Moosehead being the others). Sadly their NA offering is not sold here in my state at this point in time. Even standard Labatt is very difficult to locate in stores but worth the search. My New York friends who live on the West Coast are jealous when I find it.

The Bargain Bin: The Bottom Half of the Big 3

Ok there are some even NA cheaper domestic American brands out there. These are what is referred to as sub premium in industry parlance. I have not tried these yet but their full alcohol brethren are nothing to write home about so I would not get my hopes up on taste. I will need to try them to validate this presumption. Stay tuned. The value factor however will be quite high.

Busch NA:

A less expensive offering from Anheuser Busch. There was a story in the news here about a bear at a campground that broke into a cooler and drank a bunch of beer cans by puncturing them with its teeth. The cans consisted of Busch standard beer and Rainier Beer (local swill brand). Needless to say the bear drank only one Busch can and drank twelve or so Rainer cans. The bear drank all the Rainer cans and left the Busch ones on the ground after trying one can. This bear then proceeded to climb a tree and pass out in it. Perhaps the bear knows something we don’t on taste? : ) Yogi knows.

Old Milwaukee NA:

This is a Pabst, lower end product. Judging by dislike of the full alcohol version I am not too keen to try this unless it is quite cheap. Stay tuned for my rating. I would at minimum prefer Pabst Blue Ribbon NA to this. Hey at least the packaging looks cool.

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