When non-alcoholic beer was first created, the ethanol present in the drink was boiled away. However, this technique often led to the destruction of the aroma and flavors of the drink. In the past few years, several new techniques have emerged for making alcohol-free beers with different aromas and flavors. While some brewers use vacuum distillation or arrested fermentation, others use low heat or lesser grains to craft the beer. In this article, we will explore how non-alcoholic beer is made and also cover the different processes of making it.
The History of Non-Alcoholic Beer
The emergence of non-alcoholic beer can be traced back to 1919 in the United States. The Prohibition laws imposed in the country resulted in alcohol being outlawed in the country. The United States government set the limit for alcohol in any beverage to 0.5 percent ABV (alcohol by volume). This led to the development of new kinds of beers, referred to as non-alcoholic beers or "near beers." Even after the Prohibition era came to an end, many people still preferred the option of non-alcoholic beers. As a result, many brands in the US started creating light non-alcoholic beers according to the preferences of the consumers.
How to make non-alcoholic beer?
Now that you are familiar with the origins of non-alcoholic beer, you would naturally be curious to know how non-alcoholic beer is made. At present, most brewers use one of the two main methods of making non-alcoholic beer. In one method, the formation of alcohol during fermentation is prevented by interfering with the brewing process. In the other method, the alcohol is removed from an alcoholic beer that has been fully brewed. These two methods change the body, flavor, and aroma of the beer in different ways.
One of the ways to make non-alcoholic beer is by preventing the alcohol from being produced. It is one of the most common methods used for crafting non-alcoholic beers.
No Fermentation Brewing
When the yeast is not added to the wort, no production of alcohol takes place. Wort here refers to the beer liquid before it is fermented. The no fermentation brewing process is a simple way to ensure that the brew contains zero alcohol. This approach is also quite common in many Islamic countries, where alcohol, even in trace amounts, is prohibited. This process adds a sweeter taste to the beer, which makes it great for those who love sweet desserts and fruity beers. A great example of these beers is the Hairless Dog Citra beer.
Arrested and Limited Fermentation
In this method, the brewing process is adjusted to limit the fermentation of the beer. The wort is prepared by containing lesser fermentable sugars than would be present in a standard recipe. When the fermentable sugar level is kept low, the yeast would not be able to form alcohol in high amounts. Some non-alcoholic beers are made by tweaking the sugars and temperatures, which is known as limited fermentation.
Arrested fermentation is another method in which the yeast is removed or inactivated before it can produce high amounts of alcohol. This is done by the rapid cooling of the beer undergoing fermentation.
Since non-alcoholic beers have gained popularity in recent decades, many suppliers are working to create special strains of yeast specifically for producing non-alcoholic beers. There are certain yeast strains that cannot ferment maltose and other types of sugars. They can greatly enhance the flavor of the beer, which would not be possible with other methods.
The other approach to making non-alcoholic beer is by removing the alcohol from alcoholic beers that have been brewed fully. The process of dealcoholization includes the following types of processes.
The most common dealcoholization process is when the brew is exposed to high heat to boil off the alcohol. Since alcohol has a lower boiling point than water, the fermented beer can be heated to remove the desired amounts of ethanol.
Vacuum Distillation Process
While the boiling-off method is quite simple, it can greatly affect the body and flavor of the beer. Vacuum distillation can help in combating this issue. The vacuum can help in reducing the boiling point of alcohol from 173.1°F to 93.2°F. This allows the brewers to boil off the brew to just the right temperature while removing the alcohol so that it can retain its flavor.
Membrane Filtration Process
Another common dealcoholization process is membrane filtration. In this, the fully prepared beer is passed through a special type of membrane so that only the compounds containing the color, flavor, and alcohol get filtered through it. After the water is removed, the alcohol in the beer is distilled, and the water is again added to the beer.
In the process of reverse osmosis, the beer is passed through a membrane that is semipermeable. This helps in filtering out the alcohol, water, and other small molecules. Meanwhile, the larger compounds which contribute to the taste of the beer remain intact. After the filtration, the deaerated water is continuously added to the beer until the desired level of alcohol is reached. In the final step, water is added to the dealcoholized concentrate until the required volume is reached.
The non-alcoholic beer industry is expanding day by day, as the demand for non-alcoholic (NA) beers continues to grow. For many years, the drinks made in the name of non-alcoholic beers tasted tinny and bland, very much like the ones from the Prohibition era. However, the new innovations and techniques have brought in a revival of non-alcoholic beers. These beers are crafted to smell and taste just like regular beers. With the introduction of better techniques and newer methods, the beer quality is expected to improve even more in the time to come. If you were wondering how non-alcoholic beer is made, the aforementioned points would hopefully quench your curiosity on the topic.
It can be safely said that it is possible to make excellent beers in terms of flavor, body, and aroma without adding high amounts of alcohol to them. Our Monthly Beer Box is the easiest way to try the newest and best in the world of NA beers.