Non-alcoholic beer is all the rage these days and for good reason. We’re all striving for a healthier, leaner, and cleaner lifestyle, and reducing alcohol consumption is one way of achieving this goal.
Whether you’ve been brewing your own booze already or you’re just getting started in the craft, we’ll show you how to make non-alcoholic beer. Don’t worry, it’s easy and you do not need special equipment.
You will need the following supplies to make non-alcoholic beer at home:
- Homebrewing kit
- Stainless steel pot
- Brew kettle
- Source of heat: oven or stovetop
Step-by-Step Guide To Making Non-Alcoholic Beer
There are two ways to prepare non-alcoholic beer. Both involve minimizing the alcohol content to as low as 0.5%. Your non-alcoholic booze will still contain some traces of alcohol but this small amount will not cause intoxication.
The two methods are: reducing the production of alcohol during brewing and de-alcoholization. We will take a look at each method in a bit.
Make Beer As Usual
To make non-alcoholic beer, you will start with making a regular batch of alcoholic beer. The beer recipe you choose will make all the difference.
Opt for one that uses complex sugars such as dextrins that will not be fermented by beer yeast and converted into alcohol. Complex sugars also help to add body to the beer.
You should also avoid recipes that call for cornstarch, which is a source of simple sugars that are easily fermentable into alcohol.
Give your beer more body but with less alcohol by mashing the grain at the highest acceptable temperature (158° F) for an extended period.
If you are new to home brewing, follow these steps to make your first batch of beer:
Step 1. Steep the grains
Steeping entails infusing water with the malt grain. Wrap the grains in a cheesecloth or mesh bag. Fill a brew kettle with 3 gallons of water and heat on a stovetop. As the water heats up, lower the cheesecloth containing the grains into the water.
Keep the water at 160-175F for 20-30 minutes. Do not let the water go over 180F, as this will extract the tannins in the grain and make your beer too bitter.
Step 2. Add hops
Once the water in the kettle boils, remove it from the stovetop, add malt extra, and stir to dissolve. Return the kettle to the stovetop and boil again. Now, add hops at different intervals but ensure that the water does not over boil.
Step 3. Cool the wort
The mixture resulting from mixing water, grain, and malt extract is called wort. Cool the wort immediately by placing the kettle in an ice bath.
Step 4. Prepare the wort for fermentation
Transfer the cooled wort to the fermenter, add water to increase the wort to 5 gallons. Swash the wort in the fermenter to help with the aeration that yeast needs to ferment beer.
Step 5. Add yeast
Pour the yeast into the fermenter containing the wort. Make sure that you sanitize the scissors you use to cut the yeast pack.
Step 6. Store the beer
Seal the fermentation container and store it in a cool dry place for not less than two weeks to allow the beer to ferment into alcohol and CO2.
Once you have your alcohol, the next step is to remove the ethanol content from the beer. This will leave you with non-alcoholic beer.
Separate the Alcohol from the Beer
You can remove the alcohol from the beer by either boiling the beer or tinkering with the brewing process to prevent or limit fermentation of wort into alcohol and CO2. Let’s start with the easiest one, the boiling method.
Step 7. Boiling method for making non-alcoholic beer
Alcohol evaporates at a lower temperature than water and this method takes advantage of this simple scientific fact. By putting beer through a heating process, the alcohol content will evaporate and leave the water behind.
Follow these steps to make non-alcoholic beer using the boiling method:
- Place the beer in a suitable container
Transfer the fermented beer into a stainless steel pot or brew kettle.
- Put the beer through the heating process
Heat the beer to 175oF for 15-20 minutes. You can use either a stovetop or oven for heating.
If you use an oven, pre-heat the oven to its lowest setting. Then, pop the brew kettle inside the oven for 20-30 minutes. Heating with an oven allows the beer to heat evenly and to retain a consistent flavor.
Once the heating process is complete, you can use a spoon to taste and check that the beer doesn’t contain any alcohol content.
- Cool the liquid
Transfer the kettle or pot to an ice bath and allow it to cool for a couple of hours to below 800F.
As you heat the beer, you will notice a strong alcohol smell as the ethanol evaporates from the beer, leaving you with alcohol-free booze.
Heating will make the beer too bitter for your taste. To resolve this, it is best to reduce the amount of hops during the brewing process. It is also a good idea to use less bitter hops containing low alpha acid.
Carbonate the Beer
Heating beer will not only remove the alcohol; it will also kill off the yeast that gives beer its characteristic crispiness, also known as carbonation. The alcohol-free beer will taste flat but you can carbonate and add some zing to it.
There are two ways to carbonate beer: through natural yeast action or by carbon dioxide pressurization. If you go the way of pressurization, you will need a keg, tubing, a CO2 gas cylinder, and a CO2 beer regulator.
The pressurization method involves infusing CO2 into cooled beer. Connect the gas supply to the keg and turn it 30 PSI.
Then, gently shake the keg for about 20-30 minutes. This helps the CO2 to mix up with the beer faster.
After the initial stir up, lower the gas supply to 20 PSI and allow 2-3 days for the beer to carbonate after which you can serve and enjoy.
Alternatively, you can introduce active yeast and priming sugar to carbonize your cooled non-alcoholic beer. You may use any type of fermentable sugar as priming sugar. But it is important to know the correct carbonation level for your beer style. Refer to the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) Style Guidelines for the carbonation levels for the different styles of beer.
To determine the right amount of sugar to use for your particular style of beer, consider the amount of beer you have at hand, how much carbonation you are aiming for, and the type of sugar you are using.
Start by dissolving priming sugar into the beer and then add dry yeast. Before adding the yeast, dehydrate it by dissolving it in ½ cup of warm water for 20 minutes.
Once you carbonate, you should bottle the beer or leave it in the keg.
Step 8. Making Non-Alcoholic Beer by Adjusting the Brewing Process
An alternative method of making non-alcoholic beer is tweaking the brewing process to prevent or limit fermentation. One way to do this is by reducing the amount of fermentable sugar in the wort. This way, there won’t be too much sugar for the yeast to convert into alcohol. This is why dextrins, which are complex, un-fermentable sugars, are the best for making alcohol-free or low-alcohol beer.
Besides reducing the amount of fermentable sugar, you can reduce the amount of alcohol by regulating the temperatures during the mashing phase of the brewing process. Some enzymes are active at specific temperatures and by adjusting these temperatures, you can limit or prevent fermentation.
Making non-alcoholic beer takes some time but the process is completely doable and the best part is that you do not need any special equipment.
The secret is to start with a great beer recipe before moving on to extract the alcohol in the beer. You will also need to keep an eye on factors such as the brewing temperature as well as your choice of yeast and sugar to ensure that the resulting beer contains very little or no alcohol content.
Have you tried making your own non-alcoholic beer? How did it go? Leave us your comments and questions—we’d love to hear from you!