17 Nonalcoholic Beers That Taste Like the Real Thing

Lineup of nonalcoholic beers. From left: Ceria Brewing Company Grainwave, Samuel Adams Just the Haze IPA, Lagunitas Brewing Company IPNA, Suntory All-Free, and Athletic Brewing Company Upside Dawn Golden Ale
Lineup of nonalcoholic beers. From left: Ceria Brewing Company Grainwave, Samuel Adams Just the Haze IPA, Lagunitas Brewing Company IPNA, Suntory All-Free, and Athletic Brewing Company Upside Dawn Golden AleChris Wellhausen for Men's Journal

Overdoing it on beer was too easy as the pandemic and pugnacious politics upended 2020. Cold IPAs were accessible salves for frayed nerves. One could quickly lead to two, four, or more—today’s stress relief bringing tomorrow’s hangover. But in a world off its axis, people are increasingly looking to assert control when it comes to drinking. There’s a real trend toward abstaining from alcohol and moderating intake. Luckily, that no longer means giving up great-tasting beer.

“Shifts in drinker perceptions and advancements in brewing technology suggest we’re on the brink of a nonalcoholic beer renaissance,” says Jim Koch, chairman of Boston Beer Company. These nonalcoholic beers prove that when it comes to flavor, nothing really is something.

Clear footed glass of beer on table

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Top craft breweries are now including premium zero (or near-zero, see below) ABV offerings in their lineups—as are many major beer festivals, which proudly slate “nonalcoholic” as one of their most lauded categories of late. In other words, NA no longer stands for “not applicable” for serious beer fans. Keep ‘em in your fridge, so you can enjoy them crisp and cold. Also keep in mind that some NA beers actually do have a very (very) low alcohol content, which will be specified on the label. In the U.S., beers with less than 0.5 percent ABV are considered “nonalcoholic.” Okay, ready for your NA happy hour? Here are some of our favorite picks.

 

Athletic Brewing Upside Dawn
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17 Nonalcoholic Beers That Taste Like the Real Thing

1. Athletic Brewing Company Upside Dawn Golden Ale

Meet one of America’s fastest-growing nonalcoholic breweries, thanks to a proprietary brewing process that leads to boldly flavored bevs. Upside Dawn unites organic German and American malts in a floral, 50-calorie package that drinks light and easy. As such, it’s become popular among the adventure set.

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Suntory All-Free
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2. Suntory All-Free

Japanese brewers ran through more than 400 formulas before cracking the code on All-Free, a beer-inspired refresher made with malt barley and hops. It’s reminiscent of a seltzer, full of strong carbonation and flavor, but with zero calories, sugar, and alcohol since they nixed the fermentation process altogether. What’s more, there are no artificial flavors or sweeteners.

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Lagunitas IPNA
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3. Lagunitas Brewing Company IPNA

Clever name, eh? Lagunitas spent a year refining its first nonalcoholic brew, which was just released this December. Like its flagship IPA, this dank little number packs a pungent profile of citrus and pine trees, since it’s dry-hopped with several Pacific Northwest hops like Citra and Columbus from the Yakima Valley. It clocks in under 100 calories to boot.

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Sam Adams Just the Haze
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4. Samuel Adams Just the Haze IPA

Hundreds of yeast strains were tested to create this nonalcoholic hazy IPA (nationwide release early 2021). Wheat and oats amplify the body, while Citra, Mosaic, Sabro, and Cascade hops impart a fragrant profile of pineapple, peaches, and grapefruit. The head retention and gold color are similar to Samuel Adams‘ New England IPA. How wicked is that?

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Ceria Grainwave
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5. Ceria Brewing Company Grainwave

Blue Moon creator Keith Villa’s second act is Ceria, a Colorado brewery focused on nonalcoholic beers made with (and without) THC. Grainwave is a medium-bodied, Belgian-inspired witbier flavored with blood orange peel and coriander and just 77 calories per serving. THC-infused brews (5mg) are available at licensed dispensaries.

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Surreal Brewing Kolsch
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6. Surreal Brewing Company Natural Bridges Kölsch Style Ale

Surreal Brewing Company‘s 17-calorie bev is named after a California marine preserve and based on a German kölsch—an ale fermented at colder temperatures for a balance of subtle fruitiness and refreshment. The beer’s soft malt profile goes great with salads and roasted chicken.

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Heineken 0.0
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7. Heineken 0.0

Heineken has pulled off a delicious magic trick: This gently fruity 69-calorie lager tastes nearly identical to the full-strength original thanks to a unique process of brewing several batches of beer, then blending them.

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Bauhaus Nah Helles
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8. Bauhaus Brew Labs “Nah” Helles Lager

After Bauhaus co-owner Matt Schwandt was hospitalized with acute pancreatitis and had to give up alcohol, he began developing the “Nah” line of nonalcoholic beers. This bright take on a German-style helles lager (meaning pale in color) is made with German hops and malts for a traditional character of fresh-baked bread.

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BrewDog Wake Up Call
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9. BrewDog Wake Up Call

BrewDog‘s brunch-ready stout offers a different kind of buzz. It’s brewed with coffee for a pleasant pick-me-up, while oats and a sprinkling of milk sugar lactose lend smoothness to the roasty sip. FYI: The beer contains 39 mg of caffeine per 12-ounce serving (a bit more than a can of Coke).

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Clausthaler Santa
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10. Clausthaler Santa Clausthauler

For a jolly, alcohol-free holiday tipple, sip Santa Clausthaler. The latest nonalcoholic beer from Germany’s Clausthaler—a leader in the category since 1979—is flavored with cinnamon and cranberry for a festive kick.

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Can of Bravus Blood Orange IPA
Bravus Blood Orange IPA Courtesy Image

11. Bravus Blood Orange IPA

There’s a lot to love about this NA craft beer, which is brewed and dry-hopped with Columbus, Centennial, and Simcoe hops for nuanced depth of flavor. A refreshing choice with citrus-forward notes, this tempered IPA is mellowed by a mild bitterness from hops and blood orange peels.

[$13 per six-pack; bravus.com]

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Can and case of Rightside Brewing Citrus Wheat nonalcoholic beer
Rightside Brewing Citrus Wheat Courtesy Image

12. Rightside Brewing Citrus Wheat

This classic wheat beer has a nice tropical aroma, with notes of fresh tangerine juice, banana, and a bit of spice. The medium-body beer has a crisp and invigorating finish, making it a go-to pick to slip into our hiking pack. Along the same route, check out our favorite 17 best summit beers, which include several NA choices in the mix.

[$13 per six-pack; rightsidebrewing.com]

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12 oz can of Partake Brewing Lime nonalcoholic beer
Partake Brewing Lime Courtesy Image

13. Partake Brewing Lime

Enjoy a hint of lime in your brewski? This light and refreshing near-beer boasts notes of zesty citrus with a clean finish. Founded by biological engineer turned award-winning craft beer guru, Ted Fleming, Partake Brewing has been on a focused mission to create top-notch NA beer from its inception.

[$30 per 12-pack; drinkpartake.com]

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Bottle of Clausthaler Grapefruit nonalcoholic beer
Clausthaler Grapefruit Courtesy of Radeberger Gruppe USA

14. Clausthaler Grapefruit

Germans know beer—and alcohol-free German brewery Clausthaler certainly knows how to make some very tasty suds sans booze. A great combo of brewski and juicy, this citrus-infused drink is as light as a feather and perfect for happy hour.

[$8 per six-pack; totalwine.com]

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Can and full pint of Bravus Breakfast Dark on a wooden surface
Bravus Breakfast Dark Courtesy Image

15. Bravus Breakfast Dark (Stout)

You don’t need to take the “breakfast” moniker too literally for this stellar stout beverage brewed with cinnamon, chocolate. and coffee. But if you do, your usual non-fat latte won’t be the least bit offended. Rounded out by caramel and mocha notes, we especially love this medium-bodied beer during cooler months.

[$13 per six-pack; bravus.com]

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Closeup of hand holding a 12 oz can of Rightside Brewing IPA with a scenic lake background
Rightside Brewing American IPA Courtesy Image

16. Rightside Brewing American IPA

This superb NA IPA knows the most direct route to our hoppy hearts. A moderate hop aroma, slight malty flavor, and fruit-forward waves of pineapple, mandarin orange, and citrus define this heady beverage. Also featuring hints of stone fruit and earthy spices, it’s a fave of ours particularly with Mexican and Indian food to mellow out the heat.

[$13 per six-pack; rightsidebrewing.com]

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Photographic setup of four bottles of Aurora Superior Sparkling Hops
Aurora Superior Sparkling Hops Courtesy of Aurora Elixirs

17. Aurora Superior Sparkling Hops Aurora Sparkling Hops

Yeah, we know, it’s technically not a beer, but this hops-infused nonalcoholic beverage is so good we’d be doing you a disservice excluding it. Available in Pomelo Sage and Yuzu Orange Blossom, these nonalcoholic beverages are great for awakening your taste buds before a meal. Pomelo Sage showcases Citra hops, with bold grapefruit-esque flavor complemented by piney sage. The Yuzu Orange Blossom is a mix of Mosaic and Citra hops, bursting with citrus, a touch of floral notes and earthy peppercorn. Buy the gift set for two of each flavor or spring for the hops multipack 12-pack.

[$16 per 4-pack; auroraelixirs.com]

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