The 16 Tastiest Non-Alcoholic Beers Worth Trying In 2024
— Updated on 23 February 2024

The 16 Tastiest Non-Alcoholic Beers Worth Trying In 2024

— Updated on 23 February 2024
Nick Kenyon
WORDS BY
Nick Kenyon

You may have noticed there’s been an explosion of non-alcoholic beers on shelves in years, as Australians are slowly their drinking habits towards moderation over excess. It might be because of cost (honestly, the price of a pint is outrageous these days), or for health reasons, but there’s little doubt that enthusiasm for low or no-alcohol beverage options is growing.

But what are the best non-alcoholic beers that don’t taste like dishwater? Fortunately, just as our local beer industry boomed at the beginning of the craft beer revolution, so too are they adapting to this new market and producing some genuinely delicious drops as a result. Naturally, the big players like Carlton and Heineken are getting in on the action too, with solid results so far.

Let’s get into it.


Boss Hunting’s Favourite Non-Alcoholic Beer

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’s XPA, which speaks highly for the bill of Cascade, Simcoe, and Kohatu hops.


The Best Great-Tasting Booze-Free Beers For 2024

Athletic Brewing Co.

DETAILS

  • <0.5% ABV,
  • American founded,
  • Brewed in Connecticut and California,
  • Beers include Run Wild IPA, Upside Dawn Golden Ale, and Free Wave Hazy IPA,
  • Strong supporters of local running and 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 have 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 and ginger beer, as well as more traditional beers,
  • Full-flavoured pacific ale.

Another Australian-owned and operated set-up, the folks at Capital Brewing have complimented their line-up of boozy brews with a <0.5% ABV Pacific Ale for anyone who needs to be at their best 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 grog — when you crack one of these tinnies.


Bridge Road Brewers Free Time

DETAILS

  • <0.5% ABV,
  • One of Australia’s first craft brewers,
  • Brewed 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, but are on the up with their no-alcohol brews as well 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 that leave the brewery.


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. That’d be the Hawkesbury Prohibition Pale Ale, a brew that’s hard to pick apart from full-strength alternatives thanks to a very bright, 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 most other non-alcoholic beers that we’ve tried.


NORT

DETAILS

  • <0.5% ABV,
  • Australian owned
  • Low-carb,
  • Only 60 calories per serving making it one of the lowest calorie beers in Australia.

NORT is now one of the more popular brands in Australia when it comes to non-alcoholic craft beer, spurred by owner Jaz Wearin – who is also the 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 but knows they need to drink less of it, 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, give him a can of Mornington Free Pale Ale. Coming 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 beer, without producing the alcohol as well. The pale ale is a bit Kolsch-like with its palate, bringing in those 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 and Lion owned,
  • Crisp and 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. It’s a bit harder for brewers to produce a non-alcoholic lager, but James Squire has landed on a winner with a well-rounded palate made up of sweet grainy malts and low and light bitterness.

The full, textured mouthfeel recalls a traditional lager, which is quite extraordinary seeing as 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, and folic acid.

Another impressive offering from the Germans – Erdinger Weißbrau (pronounced Veissbrau) is the only beer on our list brewed by a label that also brews a full-strength offering. Erdinger hails from Bavaria – a region that specialises in wheat beer (Weißbrau), and they stick with what they know with their AF brew. Having said that – the brand’s wheat beer characteristics are subtle, you’ll find it quite malty and somewhat fruity in taste.

Erdinger AF is a lighter-bodied beer than Clausthaler and is much more heavily carbonated, 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 AF 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 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

After a few Clausthalers, you’ll find the illusion of having a full-strength cold one does tend to wane as the aftertaste is strong, but the first couple definitely goes down well. 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, and it’s a good bet for barbies.


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. Sporting less than 0.5% ABV, the brew has a nice complexity to it, built with a loaded bill of Munich, Crystal, Cara, Amber, Dark Crystal, Rye, Chocolate, and Wheat malts, and Centennial, Amarillo, Ahtanum, Cascade, and 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 with James Squire Zero and Mornington Free Pale Ale as one of our favourite non-alcoholic beers right now. Here you’ve got a very bold, tropical body thanks to Mosiac, Citra, and Amarillo hops from the US, and 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, but without the booze.

Peroni is about as famous as a beer brand gets, but 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 tomorrow.


Heineken 0.0%

DETAILS

  • 0.0% ABV,
  • Another classic European flavour, without the booze.

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 — however if you aren’t aware, the good folks at Heineken 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, but with a finish that’s plenty refreshing on the palate, making it a serious contender if you need to drive home.


Carlton Zero

DETAILS

  • 0.0% ABV,
  • A local classic without the hangover.

The alcoholic offering from Carlton United Breweries is one of Victoria’s most famous 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 180-year history of CUB, it’s proof that an old dog can 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 to virtually suck the alcohol out of a regular beer.

This means these alcohol-free beers go through the usual brewing process before the alcohol is removed or lessened, and how this is done ultimately affects the flavour profile.

The typical way to do this is to expose the brew to high heat and simply burn the alcohol away. Since alcohol has a lower boiling point than water, brewers simply need to boil the fermented beer until the desired amount of alcohol is left. This is the most common, and easiest way, to turn a full-strength beer into a non-alcoholic brew, but there are a few other methods that don’t affect the flavour as drastically.

Because heating beer before re-pitching doesn’t just suck the alcohol out, it gets rid of the flavour too by altering the hops. Brewers can offset this with vacuum distilling, which lowers alcohol’s boiling point so the alcohol can be burned away without affecting the hops.

Brewers can also take advantage of reverse osmosis to remove alcohol from beer. Alcohol is simply distilled out of a mix of alcohol and water via a very tight filter, and then the water and remaining acids are 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.

The latter seems to be the most popular, but most labour-intensive, way of splicing the alcohol out of beer.


Should You Be Drinking Alcohol-Free Beer?

A few years ago the answer to that question would be a plain no. Heating the alcohol out of beer would alter the hops too much and the result was too far from the original taste. In the worst instances, alcohol-free beer was plain disgusting and a rousing disappointment.

Now, with new techniques and 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, whether 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) and, 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 more than just a few brands you should be on the look for if you want to cut out the inferior alcohol-free options and zone 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.


Are you 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…

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

TAGS

Share the article