With a valuation of $22 billion as of 2022, the nonalcoholic (NA) beer market is roughly 100 times larger than that of NA spirits. While this size disparity primarily exists because NA beer has been around much longer (at least since Prohibition), I would argue—and so would others—that some of NA beer’s dominance can be attributed to the fact that it actually tastes like the real stuff. And, unlike spirits, the quality of NA beer isn’t limited to only a few styles: There are delicious NA pilsners, lagers, IPAs, pale ales, Kölschs, and Stouts. How do we know this? We tasted a ton of them—31 to be exact.
In hopes of priming you for a category that is forecasted to be worth $40 billion by 2032, we tasted, ranked, and organized some of the best, most celebrated NA beers on the market. Here are our findings.
The Beers We Chose
We tasted 31 beers from 17 different brands. We split these beers into the following categories: Pilsner/Lager, Golden/Kölsch, Pale Ale/IPA, and Stouts. Here’s a list of everything we tasted:
- Untitled Art (American Gold & Italian Style Pils)
- Rescue Club Pils
- Visitor Beer
- Bravus (West Coast, Blood Orange, Raspberry Gose, Oatmeal Stout, Peanut Butter Dark)
- Al’s Classic
- Heineken Zero
- Suntory All-Free
- Sober Carpenter (Blonde Ale, Organic Session, & IPA)
- Brewdog (Hoppy Golden & Hazy AF)
- Wellbeing (Victory Wheat, Dark Amber, & Match Day Light)
- Ceria (Grainwave & Indiewave)
- Partake Blonde
- Best Day Kölsch
- Gruvi (Juicy IPA & Mocha Nitro)
- Athletic Run Wild IPA
- Brooklyn Brewery Special Effects IPA
- Guinness Zero
How We Tested Them
Five of our editors tasted one to two ounces of each beer, served cold and poured into glasses. We then rated each beer on a scale of zero to five (five being the best), declared whether or not we would drink it, and then listed the flavors we tasted. We then took the average rating for each beer, organized them by group (Pilsner/Lager, Golden/Kölsch, IPA/Pale Ale, Stout), and ranked them from best to worst.
Notes & Trends
- The average score for all beers was 2.25.
- Nonalcoholic (NA) beer is not the same as alcohol-free beer. The difference: NA beer contains a tiny amount of alcohol (less than .5%) while alcohol-free has 0%. Our test included the following alcohol free beers: Ceria Grainwave & Indiewave, Heinken Zero, Guinness Zero.
- The blonde/kölsch category struggled. Within the group, only one beer—Best Day Brewing’s Kölsch—received unanimous approval among our editors. For blonde/Kölsch, the average rating was 1.4. For the other three categories, the average rating was at least 2.3.
- With an average rating of 4.6, Bravus’ Raspberry Gose was our best-performing beer—but it doesn’t belong in any of our categories (In hindsight, we should have tasted other sours and given them a category of their own). While it will not be included in the rankings below, we encourage you to try it.
- All of these beers can be purchased online and shipped directly to your house. If you’re interested in any of the beers below, you can easily visit the brewer’s website and order yourself a case.
Our 3 Favorite Pilsners & Lagers
Beers tasted: Untitled Art American Gold, Untitled Italian Pils, Rescue Club Pils, Visitor Beer, Al’s Classic, Heineken Zero, and Suntory All-Free.
3. Visitor Beer
A lager from Otosi, Wis., Visitor labels itself as “crisp, clean, [and] lightly hopped.” After tasting, we can confirm: Visitor is what it says it is. There’s a hint of citrus in there, too. We’d easily reach for this on a hot day. Average Rating: 3.1/5
2. Al’s Classic
Founded by Alban de Pury, Al’s replicates the easy-drinking, light beers you’d find in any dive bar. Our tasting notes were: “mellow and crisp,” “easy-drinking,” and “I could drink 100 of these.” If you’re looking for a more complex flavor, you don’t need another beer: Just pour an ounce of Wilfred’s directly into a can of Al’s and you’ve got yourself a tasty NA Spritz. Average Rating: 3.6/5
1. Suntory All-Free
Brewed in Tokyo, Suntory All-Free can go toe-to-toe with any classic Japanese lager. Receiving unanimous approval from our editors, we especially loved how All-Free’s clean flavor stayed crisp through the entire sip. Average Rating: 3.8/5
Our Favorite Blonde/Kölsch
Beers tasted: Sober Carpenter Blonde Ale, Wellbeing Victory Wheat, Ceria Grainwave, Partake Blonde, Best Day Brewing Kölsch
1. Best Day Brewing Kölsch
The clear winner of the group, we found Best Day Brewing’s Kölsch to be “sunny,” “bright,” “citrusy,” “clean,” and “the right amount of fruity.” This was only one of four beers to receive a perfect score from one of our editors. Average Rating: 3.7/5
Our 3 Favorite Pale Ales & IPAs
Beers tasted: Brewdog Hoppy Golden, Wellbeing Match Day, Wellbeing Dark Amber, Ceria Indiewave, Bravus West Coast, Brewdog Hazy AF, Sober Carpenter Organic Session, Gruvi Juicy, Bravus Blood Orange, Untitled Art Juicy, Untitled Art Citra Haze, Athletic Wild Run, Sober Carpenter IPA, Brooklyn Brewery Special Effects.
3. Untitled Art Citra Haze
From Waunakee, Wis., Untitled Art brews a variety of beers, including pilsners, Berliner Weisse, and gose. Our favorites were the IPAs, especially the Citra Haze, which we described as “smooth,” “crushable,” “mellow,” and “GOOD IPA.” Average Score: 3.0/5
2. Athletic Wild Run IPA
Since Athletic now has real estate in seemingly every refrigerator in the country, it’s nice knowing this stuff is actually good. We found it to be complex, smooth, and just the right amount of hoppy. It’s perfectly solid and—based on flavor—a deserving leader of the NA beer movement. Average Score: 3.6/5
1. Brooklyn Brewery Special Effects
Bolder and crisper than everything we tasted, Brooklyn Brewery’s Special Effects floored us. Our tasting notes included: “good bite,” “HELL YEAH,” and “deep fake—I wouldn’t know it was NA.” Average Score: 3.8/5
Our 2 Favorite Stouts
Beers tasted: Bravus Oatmeal, Guinness Zero, Gruvi Mocha Nitro, Bravus Peanut Butter Dark
2. Gruvi Mocha Nitro
If you enjoy coffee in your dark beers, the Gruvi Mocha Nitro should work for you. Although the flavor dwindles slightly towards the back end of the sip, the initial notes of coffee and smoke are compelling enough to make this a worthwhile choice. Average Score: 2.6/5
1. Guinness Zero
When it comes to replicating well-known beers into NA products, Guinness Zero is the gold standard. With a smooth finish and a complex, roasted, malty flavor, it’s a beer that you’ll never get tired of. Average Score: 4.4/5
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