Is 0.0 beer really alcohol-free?
Yes, it is. 0.0 beer is a type of beer that does not contain even a drop of alcohol. Beer manufacturers use specialized techniques to remove the alcohol from the beer and then bottle it for customers to enjoy. The majority of the non-alcoholic beer that we love from Better Rhodes does contain less than 0.5% ABV but be sure to look at the descriptions.
How is alcoholic beer made?
In order to understand how to make non alcoholic beer, we need to first get the gist of how ordinary, alcoholic beer is made. The process goes like this –
- Yeast is added into barley and melted, and this addition of yeast releases sugars, alcohol, and carbon dioxide.
- This liquid is typically kept for fermentation at a temperature of 0°F to 70°F (4.44°C to 21.11°C)
- The alcohol thus produced is flavored with botanicals, hops, and artificial/organic flavoring.
- Viola! Alcohol beer is ready.
Now, the process is different for the non alcoholic variants.
How to make non alcoholic beer – Experts answer
Experts say that before the brewing process, they first decide to divide the alcohol free beer they want to brew into two variants – 0.0% alcohol and 0.5% alcohol. This percentage of alcohol depends on the number and length of steps used to make non alcoholic beer.
Let’s explore a few of the ways that companies make alcohol free beer –
Boiling the beer (aka pasteurization)
In this process, the beer undergoes the first few stages where yeast is added, sugars & alcohol are released, and the fermentation begins. But when it does, the beer is boiled to a temperature of 173°F or 78.3°C, to evaporate the alcohol present in the beer. When the beer is heated to a very high temperature, it changes the flavor and texture of the beer, making it sweeter. Additionally, it stops the growth of yeast, preventing further fermentation.
Some brewers use an additional process where they direct the alcohol gas into a separate container, where they expose it to lowered temperatures to condense alcohol back into liquid form, to reuse it elsewhere.
In order to prevent the beer from losing its intended flavor, distillers have developed another technique called the vacuum distilling process. Here, a specialized vacuum is used to maintain a steady temperature for the beer – which is higher than the traditional cold temperature maintained during the fermentation process – but lower than the very high heat used in the previous method. Typically, the temperature is around 120°F or 48.9°C. This consistent warm temperature slowly evaporates the beer while retaining the taste and texture that the beverage was brewed for.
Reverse osmosis followed by standard distillation
Another modern technique that new-age brewers are using today is the reverse osmosis process. Here, the beer is sent through a specialized, high-tech filter set-up, which contains very small holes that allow only water, alcohol, and thin acids to pass. In fact, this filtration system works at a molecular level, getting rid of certain dissolved ingredients (as small as 0.1 nm) that a typical filter will not be able to filter out. Sugar, flavoring, and other ingredients will be separated from the beer and placed in a separate vat once the beer passes through the filter.
Next, the combination of water and alcohol is distilled using the traditional/standard distillation process. The alcohol is discarded, and the water is mixed back into the vat that contains the sugars, flavors, and other ingredients. This results in the creation of a non alcoholic beer that retains the taste of the original beer very well.
Replacing barley with other grains
The alcohol content in beer typically depends on the quantity of fermentable sugars that the yeast is able to produce through the grain used to make beer. Barley releases the highest amount of fermentable sugars. One way to restrict the amount of fermentable sugars forming in beer is to replace barley with other grains such as rice or maize. With the sugar content already lowered, it becomes easier to use any of the above processes to completely remove the alcohol from the beer.
Using yeast strains that naturally produce less alcohol
Another technique that brewers use to reduce the alcohol content in their beer is to use different yeast strains. Typically, most types of alcoholic beer are made using the yeast strain Saccharomyces. But research suggests that other strains such as Saccharomycodes ludwigii, Metschnikowia pulcherrima, and certain species of Kluyveromyces, amongst others, can be used to reduce alcohol production during fermentation. These low-alcohol-yield yeast strains will make it easier to make low-alcohol beer into non alcoholic beer.
Building the beer’s body
One of the problems of every process mentioned above is that when brewers make alcohol free beer, the removal of alcohol makes the beverage flat. There are probably few things worse than drinking flat beer. That’s why, after the alcohol has been removed from the beer, brewers need to carbonate the liquid again.
Brewers do this in one of two ways:
Natural carbonation - Using yeast strains and priming sugar that help increase carbon dioxide content through re-fermentation after bottling. While this carbonation method creates a more authentic taste, if done incorrectly, it can once again cause the formation of alcohol at a very fast pace. This is why brewers often use another method of carbonation.
Artificial/Forced carbonation – In this technique, brewers will bottle the beer or put it in the keg and force carbon dioxide gas into the beer. This makes the non alcoholic beer fizzy and full-bodied, ready for immediate consumption.
Now, you may be wondering how long does non alcoholic beer lasts after carbonation. Well, alcohol free beer is designed to last you one year from the brew date, depending on the brand you buy. Your non alcoholic 6-pack at home will last you a while without becoming flat or reducing in flavor.
Replace your alcoholic beverage with non alcoholic beer for better taste and better health
Now that you know how to make non alcoholic beer, why not log onto our Better Rhodes website and get yourself a couple of delicious alcohol free bottles? These craft non alcoholic beers are delicious and great for your health in the long run. Whether you’re grabbing a bottle for yourself or a pack for a party, you’ll find both dark and light alcohol free beers with us.
Visit Better Rhodes to know more.