The 18 Best Non-Alcoholic Beers Actually Worth Sipping In Dry July
— Updated on 27 June 2024

The 18 Best Non-Alcoholic Beers Actually Worth Sipping In Dry July

— Updated on 27 June 2024
Co-Author: Garry Lu  | 
Nick Kenyon
WORDS BY
Nick Kenyon

You may have noticed there’s been an explosion of non-alcoholic beers over the past few years.

As Australians begin to slow their roll vis-à-vis drinking habits, moderation over excess has clearly prevailed as the way to go. And health reasons aside, it also doesn’t hurt to save a few bucks given the ongoing cost of living crisis.

Suffice it to say, there’s little doubt that enthusiasm for low or no-alcohol beverage options is growing. But what are some options that don’t taste like actual dishwater? Let’s get into the best non-alcoholic beers available right now.



Boss Hunting’s Favourite Non-Alcoholic Beer (Overall)

Heaps Normal

non-alcoholic beers

DETAILS

  • <0.5% ABV
  • Australian founded
  • Independently owned
  • Beers include Quiet XPA, Another Larger, Half Day Hazy
  • Available as a subscription

Canberra-based brewery Heaps Normal has produced one of Australia’s most beloved non-alcoholic beers with Heaps Normal — a branding that has since gone on to define the local market with its Heaps Normal Quiet XPA. The flavourful citrus and tropical ale are often compared to Balter XPA, which speaks highly for the bill of Cascade, Simcoe, and Kohatu hops.


And The Rest Of The “Best”…

Athletic Brewing Co.

DETAILS

  • <0.5% ABV
  • American founded (brewed in Connecticut & California)
  • Beers include Run Wild IPA, Upside Dawn Golden Ale, Free Wave Hazy IPA
  • Strong supporters of local running & cycling communities

If you love a beer as much as you do getting after it on the bike, your local running trails, or even the gym, then Athletic Brewing Co. is made for you. Not only has the brand won a heap of awards for its beer, but they’ve also contributed more than US$2.5 million in funding for protecting and restoring hiking and cycling trails. As far as a place to start, a few cans of the Run Wild IPA will tell you everything you need to know about the brand.


Capital Brewing Alc-Less Pacific Ale

DETAILS

  • <0.5% ABV
  • Australian founded
  • Independently owned
  • Alcoholic beers also include low-carb larger & ginger beer

Another Australian-owned and operated set-up, the folks at Capital Brewing have complemented their line-up of boozier brews with a <0.5% ABV Pacific Ale for anyone who needs to be in peak condition the next day. Arriving with a tasty hop blend that includes Citra, Motueka, Mosaic, and Simcoe CRYO, you can expect a full-bodied tropical Pacific Ale — without the alcoholic content — when you crack one of these tinnies.


Bridge Road Brewers Free Time

DETAILS

  • <0.5% ABV
  • One of Australia’s first craft brewers (located in Beechworth, Victoria)
  • A brewery worth visiting (even if you’re not drinking)

Brewed in the popular town of Beechworth, Victoria, Bridge Road Brewers are a well-known quantity in the world of alcoholic beers. They’re also on the up with their no-alcoholic beverages thanks to the Free Time Pale Ale. Described as delivering “vibrant, juicy hop aroma, low bitterness and a clean finish,” they go down as easily as the rest of the Pale Ales lineup.


Hawkesbury Brewing Co.

DETAILS

  • 0.0% ABV
  • Founded in NSWs Central Coast
  • Produced using natural brewing process

Hawkesbury Brewing Co. has one of our current favourites when it comes to non-alcoholic beer: the Hawkesbury Prohibition Pale Ale — a brew that’s virtually indistinguishable from full-strength alternatives thanks to a vibrant palate that builds up the mash with Citra and Galaxy hops. Keeping it simple, the profile has given the beer a defining position in Australia’s non-alcoholic beer market; hard to resist with its light citrus notes and smooth mouthfeel. The bitterness is the real kicker here — it lasts longer than the majority of other non-alcoholic beers that we’ve tried.


Guinness 0.0

DETAILS

  • 0% ABV
  • Brewed exactly like the original
  • Delicate cold filtration method removes the alcohol & preserves product integrity

As sacrilegious as it may be to some, for the Guinness enthusiasts out there aspiring towards sober living, you’ll be glad to hear a zero-alcohol version does exist. The St James’s Gate brewers start by brewing it exactly as they always have, using the same natural ingredients (water, barley, hops, yeast) before gently removing the alcohol through a special cold filtration method; for context, cold filtration protects the integrity of the beer’s taste and character. The brewers then carefully blend and balance the flavours to ensure the distinctive Guinness flavour profile has been preserved.


NORT

DETAILS

  • <0.5% ABV
  • Australian owned
  • Low-carb
  • Only 60 calories per serving

NORT is now one of the more popular brands in Australia when it comes to non-alcoholic craft beer, spurred by owner Jaz Wearin — co-founder of Northern Beaches favourite Modus Operandi — as an increasingly successful side project. The NORT Refreshing Ale is the signature product here, presenting an ale with a golden colour and a notably restrained bitter finish that’s a bit crispier than expected. It’s one of the better non-alcoholic beers for summer, sitting nicely alongside their now expanded range that now includes an XPA, IPA, and the excellent Nort Pacific Ale.


Sobah

DETAILS

  • <0.5% ABV
  • Australian owned
  • Indigenous-founded
  • A great range of different exciting flavours

Sobah is an indigenous-founded brand that not only wants to eliminate the stigma of socialising sober, but also makes a range of beers that taste good enough that you won’t regret a single sip. Created for anyone who loves the taste of beer, the range includes everything from pilsners and IPAs to stouts and larger.


Mornington Peninsula Brewery

DETAILS

  • <0.5% ABV
  • Australian owned
  • Special alcohol-free brewing process

If your mate still isn’t won over by a zero-alcohol beer market, just give him a can of Mornington Free Pale Ale. From the dependable Mornington Peninsula Brewery, this beer has been designed as a no-alcohol brew from scratch, moving away from the typical process of de-alcoholising a beer after it has been brewed. This experimental method has obviously paid off. Using a specialised yeast that produces the sorts of esters that you’d find in a regular beer without producing the alcohol, the pale ale is a bit Kolsch-like with its palate — floral, bready, slightly honeyed notes with a subtle hit of banana on the finish. De-fucking-lightful.


James Squire Zero

DETAILS

  • <0.05% ABV
  • Australian founded, Lion owned
  • Crisp &  full of flavour

James Squire took their sweet time entering this increasingly lucrative alcohol-free market, but the arrival of James Squire Zero has proven that patience sometimes pays off. While it’s a bit harder for brewers to produce a non-alcoholic lager, James Squire has landed on a winner with a well-rounded palate made up of sweet grainy malts and low bitterness. The full-textured mouthfeel is reminiscent of a traditional lager, which is quite extraordinary given there have been many attempts at zero-alcohol lagers that don’t even warrant a mention. James Squire Zero may just knock James Squire Ginger Beer off the perch when it comes to alternatives from the iconic brewer.


Erdinger Weißbrau

ERDINGER Alkoholfrei

DETAILS

  • <0.5% ABV
  • Brewed in Germany
  • Contains vitamins B12, B9, folic acid

Another impressive offering from the Germans, Erdinger Weißbrau (pronounced Veissbrau) is a lighter-bodied beer than Clausthaler and is much more heavily carbonated. Translation: better for sipping rather than chugging. Take a quick visit to their site and you’ll see Erdinger markets it as a health drink, and is regarded by many as a great post-workout drink — a welcome new reality for beer drinkers. But make no mistake this alcohol-free beer is a good option for sober social occasions when you want something in your hand that feels like the real thing (and could make a great substitute if you’re after a fill-in for the best dark beers).


Clausthaler

DETAILS

  • <0.5% ABV
  • Brewed in Germany
  • One of the most popular alcohol-free beers in Europe
  • Award-winning

Ah, the Germans — usually a sure bet with all things beer, and they certainly don’t disappoint when it comes to this non-alcoholic craft beer offering. It looks like beer, smells like beer, and does an excellent job of tasting like beer.

Clausthaler has been making alcohol-free beer since 1979 so it’s no surprise they’ve got their act together. They take a different approach to many zero alcohol brewers — instead of removing the alcohol once brewed as is the most common approach — their brewing process produces very little alcohol in the first place, giving it a unique taste that sets it apart from its alcoholic counterparts. There’s a reason why Clausthaler is the most popular alcohol-free beer brand in Europe

Unlike Sobah there’s no flavour infusion. The brewers just make a genuine attempt to have it taste like beer off the bat. They’ve ended up with something slightly sweet, not too bubbly, and its fullish texture definitely removes it safely from soft drink territory. We recommend it with red meat dishes.


Brewdog Nanny State

DETAILS

  • <0.5% ABV
  • Brewed in Brisbane
  • Full flavoured

It’s no surprise BrewDog have quite a few non-alcoholic beers up their prolific sleeve, but BrewDog Nanny State is one of the only ones we’ve actually liked. With less than 0.5% ABV, the brew has a nice complexity to it, crafted with a loaded bill of Munich, Crystal, Cara, Amber, Dark Crystal, Rye, Chocolate, and Wheat malts; and Centennial, Amarillo, Ahtanum, Cascade, plus Simcoe hops. The speciality blend works up the bitterness of a good malt beer, landing on what is perhaps BrewDog’s best attempt at mirroring a full-strength beer with a low-alcohol alternative.


UpFlow Brewing Co

DETAILS

  • 0.0% ABV
  • Australian owned and operated
  • Judged Australia’s best new brewery in 2021
  • Classic Pale Ale Non-Alcoholic awarded Silver at the Indies Awards 2022 (Independent Brewers Association) and Bronze medal at the 2022 Australian International Beer Awards

The Upflow Non-Alcoholic New World IPA has been contending nicely against the likes of James Squire Zero and Mornington Free Pale Ale as one of our favourite non-alcoholic beers right now. Here, you’ve got a bold tropical body thanks to Mosiac, Citra, and Amarillo hops from the US, as well as local Vic Secret hops just to round it out. Those citrus and pine notes lend well to the long, hoppy bitterness on the finish, which should easily satisfy even the bigger naysayer of this whole market.


Peroni Libera 0.0%

DETAILS

  • 0.0% ABV
  • The Peroni taste you love without the alcoholic content

Peroni is about as famous as a beer brand gets, and while you’ve probably enjoyed more than your fair share at weddings and backyard BBQs, the Italian outfit also brews a tasty booze-free beer. As crisp and refreshing as you’d hope for, the Peroni Libera 0.0% is perfect for when you’ve got a big day on the cards.


Heineken 0.0%

DETAILS

  • 0.0% ABV
  • Another classic European flavour without the alcohol content

Formula 1 fans are sure to be familiar with this offering already given how well-marketed it is during almost every race of the season. But for those of you who aren’t aware, the good folks over at Heineken now produce a 0.0% beer that delivers a remarkably similar flavour profile to the OG version. You’re getting Heineken’s famed A-Yeast for a malty body with a finish that’s plenty refreshing on the palate, making it a serious contender if you need to drive home.


XXXX Zero

DETAILS

  • 0.0% ABV
  • Another local classic without the hangover

What’s better than a session on the time-honoured Mangos? A session on the Mangos that doesn’t leave you feeling dusty afterwards. XXXX ZERO is essentially the culmination of over 144 years of brewing knowledge. What they’ve created with the next generation in mind also happens to be Australia’s first Carbon Neutral certified alcohol-free beer. It’s the same quality ingredients (premium Aussie barley, malted in Queensland), Nelson Sauvin hops for that slight aroma, and that unmistakable XXXX taste.


Carlton Zero

DETAILS

  • 0.0% ABV
  • Also another local classic without the hangover

The alcoholic offering from Carlton United Breweries is one of Victoria’s most famed exports, and there’s a solid chance Carlton Zero could join them. One of the first booze-free brews that has been created in the entire 180-year history of CUB, it’s proof that an old dog can still learn new tricks. And that no-alc beers can taste great.


How are alcohol-free beers made?

heaps noral

It’s not rocket science.

Low-alcohol brews that have fewer than 0.5% ABV are classified as non-alcoholic beer. To achieve this, breweries employ a number of different processes.

The typical method involves exposing the brew to high heat and burning/reducing the alcohol content. Since alcohol has a lower boiling point than water, brewers simply need to boil the fermented beer until the desired percentage remains.

It’s the most common (and easiest) way to turn a full-strength beer into a non-alcoholic brew. Though there are a few other methods that don’t affect the flavour as much.

Because heating beer before re-pitching doesn’t just scrap the alcoholic component, but also gets rid of the flavour by altering the hops, brewers sometimes opt to offset this with vacuum distilling; which lowers alcohol’s boiling point so the alcohol can be burned away without messing with the hops.

Brewers can also take advantage of reverse osmosis to remove alcohol from beer. This is when alcohol is simply distilled out of a mix of alcohol and water via a very tight filter, leaving the water and remaining acids to be re-mixed with sugars and flavour compounds.

After the alcohol is removed, the beer is re-carbonated by injecting carbon dioxide, essentially forcing carbonation since there’s no yeast in the bottle (hence no natural way to produce carbon dioxide). It’s obviously a tad more labour-intensive.


Should you be drinking alcohol-free beer?

A few years ago, the answer to that question would’ve quite plainly be: “no.”

Previously, heating the alcohol out of beer would’ve altered the hops far too much and the result was egregiously far from the original taste. In the worst instances, alcohol-free beer was plain disgusting and a rousing disappointment.

Now, with new techniques and the latest technical know-how, almost every brewery has a no or low-alcohol option and plenty of them taste just as good as the “real” thing. This is great for people who love the taste of beer, but want to edge closer to an alcohol-free lifestyle for the health benefits (permanently or temporarily). Come Dry July, the sales of low-alcohol beer understandably skyrocket.

In 2019, the market for alcohol-free beer was estimated at US$9.6 billion (AU$13.2 billion). According to the Global Non-Alcoholic Beer Market Share, Trends, Analysis, and Forecasts 2020-2030, that figure is expected to reach US$35.6 billion (AU$49.2 billion) by 2030.

That’s some serious growth right there, and completely telling of the shift in focus towards healthier alternatives to alcohol, citing the significant health risks associated with the consumption of alcohol.

While some of our favourites so far are the Mornington Free Pale Ale, NORT Refreshing Ale, Hawkesbury Prohibition Pale Ale, James Squire Zero, and more, there are plenty of brands you should be on the lookout for if you want to cut out the inferior alcohol-free options, and zero in on only the best non-alcoholic beers sitting on that shelf.


Whether you’re taking on Dry January or Sober October, or simply taking a month off being a piss-cutting legend, there are plenty of options out there. Remember to ring ahead to check it’s in stock when tracking a booze-free brew down, as even outside of Dry July, you’ll find they sell out fast. So all power to you if you’re taking the month off the booze, and if you’re looking for something to help take the edge off a long day — we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what’s on offer in the world of non-alcoholic beers.

While you’re here, check out our list of the 112 funniest ways to call a beer a beer.


Keen on something stronger than a non-alcoholic beer (or a booze-free bev that isn’t a beer)? Here are a handful of Buyer’s Guides and similarly spirited stories to whet your appetite…

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Nick Kenyon
WORDS by
Nick Kenyon is the Editor of Boss Hunting, joining the team after working as the Deputy Editor of luxury watch magazine Time+Tide. He has a passion for watches, with other interests across style, sports and more. Get in touch at nick (at) luxity.com.au

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