In recent years, non-alcoholic beers have grown enormously in popularity. And especially during Dry January, an alcohol-free beer is a great alternative.

The annual beer monitor of branch organization Nederlandse Brouwers shows that sales of 0.0 beer in 2018 increased by more than 30 percent. That increase was much greater than in previous years.

Since 2010, the consumption of non-alcoholic beer has even increased fivefold. "One in twenty beers is now alcohol-free," says beer sommelier Ivo Thijssen. "The demand from consumers is enormous. Especially now that we are starting to live more consciously and healthier, and moreover thanks to better techniques the quality of many beers has improved considerably."

Cees-Jan Adema, formal director of Nederlandse Brouwers, previously informed NU.nl that this trend is going to continue. "We are also seeing more and more alcohol-free and low-alcohol specialty beers, from 0.0-bock beers to IPA," said Adema.

See also: The rise of non-alcoholic beer: "The regular beer is going to get difficult"

All major brands now have an alcohol-free variant

"It is becoming more and more fun and easier for consumers to taste tasty beers in that category. This is in line with both the trend towards more responsible use of alcohol and falling alcohol consumption and the popularity of specialty beers."

In 2018, Jupiler 0.0 and Heineken entered the Dutch market. Soon after Budweiser Budvar with an alcohol-free variant, the alcohol-free and low-alcohol radlers also appeared. In the spring of 2019 Leffe Blond came 0.0, in the summer Van de Streek followed with Playground IPA Alcohol-free and at the end of this year Hertog 0.0 appeared.

The major beer brands now all have an alcohol-free or low-alcohol variant. Most non-alcoholic beers are pilseners. "More and more good non-alcoholic whey beers - German wheat beer - are becoming available that come close to the original taste," says beer sommelier Arvid Bergström. "Franziskaner and Weihenstephaner are good examples of this."

In short: every major brewery now has an alcohol-free variant. Thijssen: "The smaller breweries are also increasingly frequent, they prefer to opt for a low-alcohol variant. That has to do with the way of brewing beer."

Non-alcoholic beer can be made in various ways: by not allowing malt water with hops to ferment, by using special yeast that does not produce any taste and carbon dioxide, or by deal alcoholizing the beer after the brewing process.

"The latter technique in particular is expensive", Thijssen knows. "That is why it is difficult for many small breweries. With the other techniques mentioned there is some alcohol and you get low-alcohol beer."

Alcohol-free versus low in alcohol

  • Non-alcoholic beer may contain a maximum of 0.1 percent alcohol
  • Low-alcohol beer can contain between 0.1 percent and 1.2 percent alcohol
  • Brands that offer 0.0 percent beer are below the legal standard of 0.1 percent and are therefore 'alcohol-free', but do not necessarily contain any alcohol at all
  • The percentages are higher in some countries. The border is 0.5 percent in Denmark and Sweden, 1 percent in Spain and 1.2 percent in Italy and France

Non-alcoholic beer more often at other times

Bergström and Thijssen think that we will drink alcohol-free beer more at other times. "For example during lunch or meeting", says Thijssen. "Beer with bitterballen at work: a drink moment without the adverse effects of alcohol."

"Alcohol is moisture-repellent", Bergström says. "If you drink three regular beers in the pub, you have to go to the toilet and then continue drinking. That is different with non-alcoholic beer. You drink a few glasses of that one evening at most."

Non-alcoholic beer also contains much less sugar than, for example, cola and only half the number of calories. And quite a few vitamins too, says Bergström. "In that sense too, it is therefore a good alternative to soft drinks, for example."