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26 August 2020

Best alcohol-free beer

Whether you’re cutting calories or want to reduce your alcohol consumption, there’s plenty of choice when it comes to 0% ABV lager beer. We’ve run the biggest brands past our panel of everyday beer drinkers to find out which is best.
Three people toasting glasses of beer at a table
Michael Passingham

In March 2020 our panel of consumer tasters rated 11 alcohol-free beers from the likes of Beck’s, Heineken, Bavaria and Damm to find out which was best.

The best alcohol-free beer

Only logged-in Which? members can view the alcohol-free beer test results below. If you're not yet a member, you'll see an alphabetically ordered list of the alcohol-free beers we tested.

Join Which? now to get instant access to our test scores and Best Buy recommendation below.

All prices correct as of April 2020.

Bavaria 0.0% Premium Original Non-Alcoholic Beer

19p per 100ml

Bavaria claims its patented techniques mean that no alcohol is formed whatsoever during the brewing process, but does this come at the expense of flavour? Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

Becks Blue Alcohol-Free Lager

20p per 100ml

Becks Blue is perhaps the brand that comes to mind first when it comes to 0% beer. This taste test will be its true reckoning with the tasting public issuing its judgement. Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

Birra Moretti Zero

30p per 100ml

This brew contains more than just your standard brewing ingredients, with additional ‘natural flavourings’ to add to the taste. Purists might not like the sound of adulterated lager, but our taste testers have the final say. Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

Budweiser Prohibition Brew Alcohol Free

34p per 100ml

Budweiser’s 0% beer is no longer being made, but as of April 2020 it’s still available in plenty of online supermarkets. It’s going to be replaced by Bud Zero in the coming months. In the meantime, should you grab Prohibition while stocks last? Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

Carlsberg Nordic 0%

23p per 100ml

Self-proclaimed as ‘probably the best’, Carlsberg has nowhere to hide with its 0.0% ABV beer. Can it live up to its reputation? Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

Cobra Zero Alcohol

8p per 100ml

Cobra’s 0% option prides itself on its ‘refined carbonation’ and the company reckons it’s a perfect accompaniment to food. Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

Free Damm 0.0 Lager Beer

20p per 100ml

With less than half the calories of its alcoholic equivalent, if you’re a fan of this Spanish brewer you might find Free Damm is a good substitute. Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

Heineken 0.0 Alcohol-Free

23p per 100ml

Heineken’s alcohol-free beer is, among other things, a major sponsor of Formula One. Can this lightweight lager cross the line first? Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

Lidl Perlenbacher 0.0% Non-Alcoholic Lager

12p per 100ml

Lidl’s German-style lager is the sole supermarket representative in our taste test. We see whether it can take it to the big brewing brands. Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

Peroni Libera 0.0%

30p per 100ml

To many, Peroni is the ‘posh’ option for parties and events. Should its Libera 0% option make it into your next ice bucket selection? Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

San Miguel 0,0% Alcohol Free Beer

30p per 100ml

Does this saintly 0% beer from the Spanish brewer taste divine, or should you seek beer enlightenment elsewhere? Log in now or join Which? to unlock our test results.

Are alcohol-free beers lower-calorie?

The short answer to this is a resounding ‘yes’. A lot of the calories that come from beer are from the alcohol itself, so by removing the alcohol you also end up removing a high proportion of the calories. Below are the beers we tested calorie content per 100ml compared to the brand’s nearest equivalent alcoholic beer.

Calories in beer per 100ml

For comparison, 100ml of Coca-Cola contains 42kcal and 100ml of Tropicana orange juice has 41kcal. Of course, the Diet (sugar-free) equivalent contains less than one calorie, so if all-out calorie elimination is what you’re after, alcohol-free beer isn’t the best bet. But if you still want the taste of beer but want to cut your calorie intake, they are a great option.

Is alcohol-free beer bad for you or are there health benefits?

In order to be branded alcohol-free, beers must contain less than 0.05% alcohol by volume (ABV). For comparison, a typical beer might contain 5% alcohol, meaning you’d have to drink 100 bottles of alcohol-free to equal the content of a single bottle of the alcoholic equivalent. 

Alcohol impairs your judgement and reaction times, and is known to cause liver damage and some cancers, so any way you can reduce your intake can be considered as a health benefit. But there isn’t anything special about alcohol-free beer beyond the fact it has had its alcohol all but entirely removed.

If your lifestyle, health or diet restrictions mean you must avoid alcohol, do carefully check the labelling of beer before you buy it. According to the industry-funded charity DrinkAware, in addition to <0.05% ABV ‘alcohol-free’ beers, there are also ‘dealcoholised’ beers (under 0.5%, in other words ten times stronger) and ‘low-alcohol’ beers (under 1.2%, or more than twenty times stronger).

Like any product, be it lager or lemons, you shouldn’t consume alcohol-free beer excessively, not least because the level of carbonation is likely to make you feel fairly uncomfortable. Chugging a 0% beer like it’s water is inadvisable.

How is Alcohol-free beer made?

Different brewers have different methods for eliminating alcohol from their beers. There are two very broad ways of reducing alcohol content; either after the brewing process or during.

The first is to brew the beer as usual, and then use processing techniques on the finished product to remove alcohol. Some methods involve using alcohol’s low boiling point to evaporate it away, while others use high-tech permeable membranes that let alcohol molecules through but not the rest of the beer. Some brewers might even simply make an incredibly strong beer and then use water to dilute the mix and bring the alcohol content down while retaining some flavour.

You can also modify the brewing process by using special yeast, reducing sugar or interrupting the brewing process part way through. All these methods do have an effect on flavour, either by making a beer sweeter, more watery or perhaps even too bitter.

How we tested

The products were assessed by a panel of consumers who regularly buy and consume alcoholic lager beer. The make-up of the panel broadly represents the demographic profile of adults in the UK.

Each alcohol-free lager beer was tasted 64 times.

The panellists rated the taste, mouthfeel, aroma and appearance of each product and told us which one they preferred overall.

The taste test was blind, so the panellists didn’t know which brand they were trying. The order they sampled the beer was fully rotated to avoid any bias.

Each panellist had a private booth so they couldn’t discuss what they were tasting or be influenced by others. The overall score is based on:

  • 50% taste
  • 25% aroma
  • 15% appearance
  • 10% mouthfeel