Quite a few people like the taste of beer, but they don’t like the way the alcohol content affects them. It’s understandable when you’d rather go without the alcohol even when you’re on vacation. You certainly don’t want to drink and drive when you’re bringing your car to the Washington National Airport parking lot, or when you’re zipping around town in London or Berlin.
But the main problem is that as a general rule, non-alcoholic beers (NABs) are just plain bad. This isn’t even just a matter of opinion, because science has proven it. Most NABs begin as regular beer, and then the brewery heats the beer to get rid of the alcohol. The problem with this approach is that the alcohol is a large part of the taste. When the alcohol disappears, you’re left with a cloying syrupy concoction that seems overly sweet or overly bland.
Fortunately, there are exceptions to this generalization, and you may find some excellent NABs on your travels. Here are some beers you should look for especially if you’re in Europe.
Coors Non Alcoholic
If you’re traveling within the US borders, then you’re pretty much stuck with this as your best option. European NABs will be harder to find unless you stumble upon a beer specialty store. At least the Coors NAB is better than Coors Light.
A. Le Coq Imperial Kvass
You can get this if you’re ever in Estonia, which you can visit for a budget-friendly vacation with the family. This kvass isn’t like regular beer as it’s made in a totally old-school style using dark rye bread with herbs, fruits, saps, and sugars. It’s basically bread that’s been toasted until it caramelized, and then it is turned into liquid. It’s black in color, and the alcohol content is minimal at 0.5%
Kormoran 1 NA 100
Unlike most other NABs, this Polish ale is unfiltered so it has a nice haze to it. It’s also unusually flavorful, as it gets most of its taste from Citra hops and rye malts. It’s a bit stronger at 1% ABV (alcohol by volume), but then finishing even a 6-pack of this won’t get you much of a buzz. The craft brewery in Olsztyn, Poland that makes this uses locally farmed ingredients, and they’re serious even with their NABs.
Kehrwieder ü.NN IPA alkoholfrei
It can be a bit of a mouthful to pronounce. But if you’re an American, people in Germany won’t mind if you say “Keer-vee-der I.P.A. alcohol-free”. IPAs aren’t exactly common in the country, but this brand makes plenty of it and they’ve figured out how to provide full flavor without the alcohol. They’re a very new brand that started in Hamburg in 2015, but beers like this give them a good start.
Vandestreek Bier Playground Alcohol Vrij IPA
It’s funny how we have another IPA here, given that very few India Pale ales are non-alcoholic. This one is Dutch in origin, and you get the carbon fizz and aroma of citrus when you crack open a bottle. The beer is golden and a bit hazy, while the body of the beer is malty and a bit like butter. For a NAB, it’s terrific.
Paulaner Hefe-Weissbier Alkoholfrei
This well-known Munich brand claims that this has nutrients, minerals, and electrolytes. So it’s like Gatorade since it’s also alcohol-free, but there’s still the taste of German beer. If you want a different type of drink to quench your thirst after a hard day’s hike in your travels, you may want to try this one.
Mikkeller Drink’in the Sun/Snow
The MIkkeller bran d based in Denmark offers 2 different NABs. The Drink’in the Sun version is great for summer with its refreshing taste of citrus. The Snow version is for winter, as it has seasonal spices and it works like hot cocoa.
So drink these safely and have fun, knowing you won’t make a drunken fool of yourself in a foreign land. Cheers!