All fizzy drinks have a percentage of alcohol. It comes from preservatives and carbonation. But these trace amounts well below 1% so they wouldn’t register on any breathalyzers or blood alcohol tests. Still, you sometimes want a little buzz without summoning a hangover.
Low-alcohol and no-alcohol beers are often classed together. They’re defined as beers with ABVs of less than 1.2%, and a lot of them are brewed overseas so be ready to import! That said, what’s the best low alcohol beer to take off the edge but doesn’t tip you over the limit?
The Best Low Alcohol Beer List
In some places, asking for a warm beer could get you sent to an asylum. As one American waiter wondered, “You … want me to … boil it?!?” But in the lands of snow, thunder, and tropics, beer is often drunk at room temperature or higher. Gose is brewed warm but can be served cold. This gose is a little different though, and it comes in peach and mango.
‘Gose’ is pronounced like ‘rosa’. And like all drinks on the Partake Brewing shelf, it has an ABV of 0.3%. It’s marketed as a no-alcohol beer and joins the crew of 0.3% stouts and ales (red, pale, blonde, and IPA). This brewery has won several awards. These beers are relatively new (released in 2020) so keep an eye out for free samples in Partake’s assorted mix-packs.
We all have different tolerance levels for alcohol. It’s why some people classify low-alcohol as anything from 0.5% ABV to 0.05%. Others go as high as 5% and still call it low-alcohol. So for the higher brackets, Harpoon League beers will hit the spot. Their ABV is 4% and they’re often sold as a mixed pack of Rec (120), Farm (120), Bush (115), and Night (125) League.
The number in brackets is the calorie count and they’re all low-carb selections. The colorful cans are great for tailgating parties. In terms of style, Bush is a pilsner, Night is a dark session IPA, Farm is a Belgian ale, and Rec is a hazy light beer. Together, the series forms the Fantasy League of easy-drinking low-booze beer. All four are brewed chia seeds and sea salt.
You’ve probably heard of beer miles … though they don’t necessarily call for low-alcohol drinks. But if you’re more of a genuine athlete, you can still get the buzz in without giving up your ads or growing a gut. Helpful hint: the best low alcohol beers have ‘sport’ or ‘athlete’ in their branding. All the beers from Athletic Brewing are tested … well … tasted and approved.
Cerveza is a Mexican-style beer with less than 0.5% ABV. It positions itself as a light non-alcoholic beer and its rich copper color is pleasing. The beer fuses organic malts from Vienna and Munich with Herbucker hops – all German. The result is a dry drink with the crisp scent of bread crust. The flavor mixes spice and florals for a refreshing hit in every sip.
This beer may be harsh on your tongue but it’s a pleasure on your taste buds. The original Tannenzäpfle is a 5.1% ABV beer but the low-alcohol (defined as no-alcohol) is much lower at 0.5% ABV. This version has an ABV of 29 so it’s not too far from the boozy version (IBU 31). It retains the same flavor profile, aroma, and body, but it’s a lot less diuretic.
Scent is particulate, so Rothaus extracts the alcohol from this pilsner using steam and a vacuum. This Australian technique retains the beer’s distinct Tettnanger nose that recalls fresh straw. The beer has a rich golden hue, a fine, pearly palate, and a thick, satisfying head. The ‘fir cone’ taste is both fruity and spicy with a touch of citrus and a bready finish.
It seems the no-booze brewers prefer to fly … so few of them are based in the US! Here’s one though. And craft beer no less. The catch is … it’s sparkling. Little Grove is an Allagash Brewing subsidiary that focuses on high flavors and low ABVs. Their signature drinks are fruity, tart, and under 101 calories. They come in two flavors – blackcurrant and peach.
The peach version is 3.6% ABV and is teased out with kombucha. The blackcurrant variant stands alone at 3.8% and both have 100 calories. 7g and of carbs, and no fat. The peach ale has a fizzy yellow hue while the blackcurrant is closer to blush. Both beers have a healthy head and good lacing. These light, bright beers are widely available all year round.
6. The Purist
Lots of craft beers were inspired by European tours. Whether it was a gap-year beg-packing adventure or a bike ride through Belgium. The latter prompted this Colorado couple to start brewing in their Fort Collins basement. Thus, New Belgium Brewing was born. And their low-alcohol superstar is appropriately named The Purist. It has an ABV of 3.8%.
It’s a true farm to filter beer because you can trace its organic ingredients right to their growing spots in Oregon. And the water comes from the Poudre River in the Colorado Rockies. This clear beer has 95 calories and 3g of carbs. This clean lager is certified organic by the USDA. The barley malts and hops are all from the Pacific North West. The beer is available online.
You don’t want to mix up Clausthaler with Samichlaus. Both ate winter warmers, but one is the booziest of boozes at 14% while the other has less than 0% alcohol. Clausthaler has an ABV of 0.5% and its variants include unfiltered, lemon flavor, and grapefruit flavor. The dry-hopped version is brewed using Cascade hops that give it a dark golden tone.
The beer also contains caramel malt for extra flavor and body. It’s available all year round and is exported globally so you should have no trouble finding it in the US. This dry-hopped drink isn’t filtered so its amber hue is hazy and filling. It has a frothy ivory head with lots of lace and a silky mouth-feel. The drink is sticky-sweet with a bitter, well-balanced aftertaste.
We hear a lot about IPAs … but what about APAs? Well, on pale-ale-planet, ‘session’ is code for ‘low in booze’. The differences between IPA and APA are … infinite … pun intended. And they go way beyond provenance. While the Infinite brand has both, let’s stick to the low-alcohol APA. It’s delightfully … light with an ABV under 0.5% and only 36 calories per can.
This American beer contains six grains that include the four basics of craft beer with ‘no weird additives’. Ingredients include wheat, yeast, malt barley, and oats. It’s hopped with Simcoe, Mosaic, and Citra, mingling refreshing floral flavors. So you can safely sip whether the baby-on-board is in the back seat or the belly. It’s equally safe for designated drivers.
Indian Pale Ales have a higher alcohol level and higher hops content than other ales. This is because the added fermentables helped the beer sail safely to the colonies. This was back in the days of manual ships, so those trips were long and tedious. Today, IPAs retain their fruity hops and spicy formulas but they can be low in alcohol. Slightly Mighty is only 4% in ABV.
It’s a light beer with an IBU of 30, released every spring and gone from the shelves by fall. This hazy low-alcohol beer is a commercial for the tropics. Its fruity notes range from pineapple and coconut with some citrus and mango tossed in. This Dogfish drink has a sweet, lingering aftertaste and at 95 calories and 3g of carbs, you can guzzle two or three.
You may have noticed something as you go through our list. In Europe, 0.5% is counted as no-alcohol while low-alcohol is around the 5% mark. With American brands, low-alcohol beers bottom out around 3 or 4% and trace elements aren’t labeled on the can. So light beers in the US are low in booze and calories too. Like this Blue Moon bottle with its 110 calories.
Its carb count is 3.6g and its ABV is 4%. You can buy this year-round beer anywhere in the US. It’s a citrus wheat beer brewed with distinguishable tangerine peel. The beer is dry-hopped with Azacca hops and unfiltered to keep it cloudy. But because its carbs and sugars are low, the beer feels light despite the haze. It’s made by MillerCoors, now renamed Molson.
Serious athletes lay off the booze and train for decathlons. Amateurs register for beer miles. But the fun crowd mingles both and indulges in Sufferfest. Why? They keep you fit but let you drink! And while they’ve paused for 2021, you can still find their gluten-free athlete-facing brews at Sierra Nevada. Their Shred Kolsch is a massive muscle-gaining aide.
The beer has an ABV of 3.5%, an IBU of 25, 95 calories, and 5g of carbs. It’s infused with cayenne for enhanced fat burning and honey to promote healing and lower inflammation, which in turn reduces muscle soreness. That plus 0.85g of protein makes it a good workout buddy. And yes, it’s still beer. But maybe wait until after the workout wind-down to imbibe.
Stateside, lo-cal IPAs are the most common residents of the low-alcohol aisle. And with an ABV of 3.7% and just 110 calories, this ale is hale and homey. The aromas in this beer are distinctly citrusy with pine up-front. The Galaxy and Centennial hops and blended and balanced to craft a full-bodied beer that stays good for up to 6 months. It has 8.7g of carbs.
This hazy drink isn’t intended to be aged, so always check the ‘drink-by date’. The aroma is hoppy but the mouth-feel is oddly thin for a beer this cloudy. It has a tick head though, with sufficient staying power and distinct lacing. Get it on draft if you can. That way, you’ll get close to how its brewers intended it to be served, especially in terms of ‘aging’ and time.
You’ve all seen the memes about stressed mothers and wine. But if you’re a mommy or daddy looking for a nightcap, consider the joy of Big Drop. All their beers are low-alcohol (packaged as no-alcohol) at 0.5%. Today, we’re focusing on their stouts. They have three, and you can pick your favorite by flavor or fullness – their calories range from 75 to 140.
Their cake stout is sweet, heavy and gluten-free with an IBU of 5. Their Irish stout is at the other extreme, with creamy caramel and an IBU of 17. Let’s talk about the median – Galactic Milk Stout. Its IBU is 35 and its calorie count is 91. The stout has won multiple awards and tastes like a chocolate-covered honeycomb. The grain mix has barley, rye, oats, and cocoa.
Yolo? Try So-lo! At 98 calories, it’s the perfect example of how low you can go while still enjoying beer. The IPA has an ABV of 3% and an IBU of 40. It’s a ‘big beer’ that’s strong in aroma and flavor. This hops-forward brew has a mix that includes Kohatu, Idaho 7, and Chinook. Its grain mash has malted oat flakes, carapils copper, Pilsen, and carafoam.
The beer has a good sweet-to-bitter ratio and its herbal, floral, and citrusy notes and beautifully balanced. It has a bready scent and no head or lace. It’s fizzier than the average beer and you can detect hints of salt in the background. But the rich golden hue is gorgeous. And while it’s as hoppy as an IPA should be, the hops are subtler than other brands.
We’re not going to tell you hair of the dog doesn’t work. But if you must start the day with booze, we suggest opting for a coffee-infused remedy from the kind of dog that knows its beer. Wake Up Call is a coffee stout with an ABV under 0.5% and a workable number of US stockists. Apart from dark roasted espresso, the beer contains chocolate wheat and oats.
This beer is nicknamed Stout AF in homage to its low-alcohol siblings Hazy AF and Punk AF (and no, it doesn’t mean America’s Finest). It does have allergens though – gluten and lactose. The flavors in Stout AF include blackcurrant, caramel, and licorice. The beer is built off Bramling Cross hops and the fruity front works well with its dark malts and coffee base.
What’s your top low-alcohol beer? Did it make our list? Tell us about it in the comments!