If you’re worried beer is stopping you winning the battle against your belly, switch to the zero-alcohol stuff rather than fizzy drinks or juice. Not only is it lower in calories than many soft drinks, but new research has also found you can still get a “beer buzz” from it. Brain scans at Indiana University showed the taste of beer triggered the release of dopamine – a neurotransmitter linked to reward-motivated behaviour – before any intoxication effects could occur. With around 20 calories per 100ml, compared with 40 in regular beer, you’ll also significantly cut down on your calorie intake, as well as waking up feeling fresh and ready to hit the gym.
Big and craft breweries alike have cottoned on to a recent surge in demand for alcohol-free beers, bringing a huge range of them within reach of your abstaining fingers. With one Ab In-Bev study revealing that 31% of UK adults have now tried the stuff, and that almost one in five can’t tell the difference between it and its boozy relative, the stigma once attached to ordering a boozeless beer is fast dissipating.
But as with all too-good-to-be-true situations, there is a catch. Alcohol-free doesn’t always mean zero fun stuff. In many cases, there is a microscopic amount of booze floating around in your bottle – such a small amount, though, that often it’s less than can be found in some fruit juices. What’s more, with the volume of water in each bottle massively outweighing the volume of alcohol, there’s zero risk of you getting drunk off them.
Erdinger Alkoholfrei (0.5%)
This Bavarian brewery claims its low-alcohol wheat beer – brewed in accordance with the Bavarian Purity Law – is an isotonic recovery drink, making us wonder if they’ve been on the harder stuff… but in fairness there’s 26.5g of carbs in a 500ml bottle, and the decent amounts of folic acid and vitamin B12 don’t hurt either. We were surprised by how easy the light beer with a touch of sweetness went down after a game of five-a-side and it’s easy to find at most major supermarkets – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Morrisons – for £1.20-£1.30 a bottle. At around half the calories of an alcoholic beer, we’d happily sub this in during a day drinking session. erdinger.de, £1.20-£1.30 for 500ml
Innis & Gunn Innis & None (0.0%)
Billed as the world’s first detox beer (and without doubt the only one that, according to the brewers, is best served on the gym floor), this flavour-packed pale ale is not only completely alcohol free, but it’s crammed with vitamin C, guarana and ginsing. Uh huh, it’s actually beneficial to your immune system, energy levels and athletic performance. £5 for 4 cans, buy on innisandgunn.com; £1.30 for 330ml can, buy on tesco.com
West Nix Wheat Beer (0.0%)
Straight outta Glasgow, Nix – Bavarian for “nothing” – is an attempt to prove that alcohol-free beer doesn’t have to “taste like wet cardboard”, according to the German-born brewery owner Petra Wetzel. And she’s only gone and done it. This bottle’s less soggy paper, more fruity and spicy. And with zero rule-breaking guilt, too. Huzzah! £15 for 12 bottles, buy on westbeer.com
St Peter’s Without (0.05%)
Suffolk’s best-loved small-time brewery spent almost £1m on developing this bottle, and although it states 0.05% alcohol on the label, it came in closer to 0.009% in recent tests meaning there’s more booze in your morning orange juice than in here. But is it any good? Put it this way, there’s a reason St Peter’s is keeping its brewing process for this one a very closely-guarded secret. £13 for 8 bottles, buy on stpetersbrewery.co.uk, buy on amazon.co.uk; £1.30 for 500ml bottle, buy on tesco.com
Sagres Zero (0.3%)
Take yourself back to your sunny break in Portugal with a beer that’s near impossible to tell apart from its famous boozy brother. Chill these down and enjoy them with a spot of light lunch – we often whack a bit of lime cordial in there for proper refreshment. £24.99 for 24, buy on alcoholfree.co.uk
Rothaus Pilsner Beer (0.4%)
If it’s a ‘real beer’ you want this Dry January, look no further thanks to the amount of flavour this non-filtered German beast retains even after the alcohol’s been stripped out. £19.99 for 12, buy on drydrinker.com
BrewDog Nanny State (0.5%)
Eight different malts and five big-dog hops – the Scottish brew punks weren’t messing about when they thought up this punchy little number. You can’t move for all the flavour inside here. £14.50 for 12, buy on brewdog.com, buy on tesco.com, buy on sainsbury.co.uk, buy on waitrose.com
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