The Pros and Cons of Non-Alcoholic Beer - Treatment Solutions
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The Pros and Cons of Non-Alcoholic Beer

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Most people would probably agree that alcoholism is a big problem in our country.  Countless studies have been done and techniques have been used to try to prevent or treat alcoholism.  Some people may be wondering what role non-alcoholic beer can play in the treatment or prevention of alcoholism.  Seems logical, right?  Keep the beer; get rid of the alcohol in order to prevent dependence on alcohol.  As many beer drinkers already know, non-alcoholic beer may not be all that it’s cracked up to be.

History of Non-Alcoholic Beer

Non-alcoholic beer had its beginning in America during the Prohibition in 1919.  At this time brewing companies, such as Anheuser-Busch, Miller, and Schlitz, began producing “near beer” to get around the law of that time.  These drinks were malted beverages that had very low alcohol content (less than .5% alcohol by volume).  In order to remove the alcohol, it was either boiled or filtered from the beer.  It was argued by many that the process of removing the alcohol left the beer tasteless.  Over time, however, people found a way to sneak alcohol back into the bottle or keg of beer, an illegal process that resulted in “spiked beer”.

Today near beer is still made and sold, and in many states it is legal for even minors to purchase and drink it, though some states do require a person to be 21 to drink “non-alcoholic beer”.  This is because even non-alcoholic beer has some alcohol in it.


Perhaps a logical question would be: “What if individuals with alcohol abuse problems or alcoholics would switch to non-alcoholic beer?”  Wouldn’t that solve our problems?  Well, there are a few major problems with this solution.  First of all, alcohol-free beer in many peoples’ view still does not have the rich flavor of regular beer.  Secondly, even most non-alcoholic beer has a small amount of alcohol, which could cause relapse for recovering alcoholics.  Thirdly, research has shown that the smell of any kind of beer may be enough to cause reactions in an alcoholic’s mind, triggering cravings.  The smell may actually raise the brain’s level of dopamine, which gives the individual a high, making them want more.  It may be the anticipation of drinking alcohol that aids in the addiction for more.

Perhaps it is best for recovering alcoholics to refrain from even non-alcoholic beer for the best chances of recovery.


While it may not be the best way to satisfy a recovering alcoholic, non-alcoholic beer may have benefits to other individuals.  A study on this subject was done on Spanish nuns and was published online by Nutrition.  According to the study, nuns that drank non-alcoholic beer for 45 days had an increase in antioxidant levels in their bloodstream, something that could have positive effects on the cardiovascular system.

Whether non-alcoholic beer is everything beer drinkers had hoped for or not, it may be on future lists of health-friendly beverages.


Low-alcohol beer
The Dangers of Drinking NA Beverages February 6, 2004
Non-Alcoholic Beer Origins
Puchala, Jessica Study weighs health benefits of non-alcoholic beer 1/2/2009
Alvarez, Jesus Roman Martinez Effects of alcohol-free beer on lipid profile and parameters of oxidative stress and inflammation in elderly women 22 April 2008

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Leah Miranda

This article was written by Leah Miranda

Leah joined American Addiction Centers in 2012 and currently holds the position of Events and Social Media Manager. After earning her Bachelor's degree in history, with a minor in teaching, she began her career in the higher education system. Her passion for connecting with people soon led her the field of marketing and social media where she is able to communicate with and inspire others daily. Connect with Leah on Google+


JamesJanuary 28, 2009 at 2:13 pmReply

I would have to completely disagree with the CONS on this topic. I am a recovered Alcoholic who has not had an alcoholic drink since 1985. First off lets get straight on what recovery really entails. Recovery is a vast, vague term used all to loosely. Some people see recovery as a way to build back one life from gaining the physical/Mental/and Spiritual self back.Some people ‘LOSE ALL’ while OUT THERE, others lose some, some lose none(but still want to stop drinking)
If a Guy like me who knew that his drinking was problematic, and could see the possible loss of ALL straight ahead down the road, however decided to do something about it,then indeed he is a fortunate one. Others wait too long before they see the freight train coming. They medicate the despair, the pain, the anger, the loss,etc., and go past the point, or threshold where it becomes very hard to Recover. Its not a losing battle, but one thing I did learn when I was in AA during my (1985-1993) early years was that we are Unique,and that each individuals alcoholism is quite different from one person to the next.
Getting back to drinking Non alcohol Beer. I experimented with the idea of trying one back in 1999 with my Nephew(an O’Douls) I loved the taste , I missed that taste, and at that moment I felt fine! I did not have a Relapse..,or brain conditioned messages telling me that I gotta have the real thing.. gasp, gasp..quick, quick…get me to nearest Beer Distributor! Nothing of the sort. I have no desire to get Drunk! I always had a palette for great tasting beer. That was it for me. I repeat,again..for me, and maybe only me, because at the end of the day(if we have most, or all of our faculties) we are the ones in charge of our decisions. I cannot speak for other recovering alcoholics. Every ones different, and so is their brain chemistry.
Back to BREW…Sure most Non Alcohol beers taste like piss, but I found one brand in particular that I am very fond of.It is brewed by the Guinness Company, and is called ‘Kaliber’ Try one. Its one of the best out there.

TravisMay 10, 2009 at 11:29 pmReply

I must agree with most of the posting that James added above. I am recently sober. Although I was never a big beer drinker (I usually drank wine or the occassional mixed drink). I enjoy drinking NA beer now. I have no desire to slam them down quickly or switch over to the real thing. I just enjoy the taste of a beer after a long-day’s work. I have some friends who say I cannot truly be sober unless I give up the NA beer too. Well… one of my favorite drinks when I was drinking was vodka and cranberry juice. I can tell you I can easily drink a glass of cranberry juice without having the urge to run and get vodka to out into it. I’m sure there are those out there who do have problems tasting NA beer and wanting the real thing – just do not classify/stereotype all of us in that category.

tyroneJune 14, 2010 at 1:49 pmReply

in non alcholic beer does it still give the pop bell and the effect of waight gain as in regular beer?

HelloDollyLlamaJuly 8, 2010 at 1:36 pmReply

I’d have to agree.

There was a “debate” on this in The article in which claimed to have scientific evidence warning against NA beer…didn’t really have the evidence. They said that they conducted experiments on rats who drank either alcohol or quinine, a very bitter substance, which is an absurd choice to offer people, let alone rats…and then they didn’t even have any solid conclusions. They also claimed that NA triggered the same odor-related reactions, euphoric feelings, and dopamine as alcohol, which could just as easily steer you away from alcohol as toward it (and dopamine is also a potential cause and/or effect in a hundred other human interactions, which makes it risky as a yardstick). And they cited one forum member who said a family member acted the same when drinking NA as when he drank alcohol, also meaningless. That was the best they could do. And based on those three logical fallacies, they confidently asserted that alcoholics should stay away from NA.

Elsewhere, one guy said it felt good to drink a cold NA beer after working in the hot sun – well, duh! And others repeated the tired mantra that only AA’s religion-driven total-abstinence formula is acceptable, even though its success rate, according to studies, is “inconsistent”, and other systems such as rational recovery offer other alternatives.

Even if there was clear evidence suggesting that NA will either help you or hurt you, that would be a generalized prediction that doesn’t necessarily mean anything when applied to a single individual. And in this case, the evidence is NOT clear — there is no consistent evidence regarding NA, and there is no consistent evidence as to the efficacy of AA either. Everyone must find out what works for them.

I drank like a fish for 30 years. I switched to NA and I’ve been dry for almost a year, no sweat.

JaredApril 15, 2011 at 5:27 pmReply

I drank about 20 beers a day everyday for 10 years. Id go through a keg every 7 days like clock work. I started having alcohol induced seizures and was forced to quit. I’ve been sober now for 30 days.. withdrawals were horrendous, but after 48 hours of throwing up and a few seizures I was fine.. NA beer has been the only thing that’s helped me through. If it wasn’t for NA beer id be freaking out daily. I’ve even been to a bar twice and drank q couple NA beers. I will admit I drink 12 beers a day, but my doctor told me if I want to be addicted to fake beer there was no problem with that. So don’t knock it because it allows some people to pick up a beer without harming our health, realationships, or legal standing.

radoxmeAugust 14, 2011 at 4:55 amReply

Beer has b-vitamins for the nervous system and hops which are used for anxiety alone. You can still be very chilled without the alcohol. If I am stressed I have a coiple of na beer and feel much better.

Terri WessSeptember 6, 2011 at 10:32 amReply

Jared, you posted in APril that you are using NA beers as you get through the detox phase…how is that going? I am doing it also after spending a day in the ER…going great thus far.

coldfingerDecember 21, 2011 at 9:14 pmReply

I have recently decided after ten years of pounding the beer to quit. Forever. I will enjoy the na beer at home just as I enjoy it in Iraq. I drink beer because I love a good brew, I rarely got drunk. Possibly due to increased tolerance. I feel that I will be very successful in my attempt to quit using na. If there is any knowledge out there of good na brew other than odouls please post that data. It would be great to find an na from some of the micro breweries.

zmanDecember 7, 2012 at 1:26 amReply

I quit drinking just over 2 years ago. I did AA for about 8 months. Doubt I would have quit with out it. I went totally dry for a year and then had a Odouls. I remembered it tasting like you know what before but after a year it was the best beer I had ever had. I know drink several NA’s. As mentioned earlier by someone I love Kaliber. Also St Pauli girl NA and Bucklers. I have no interest in drinking regular beer again but I am glad I obstained for a year before trying NA. the fact of the matter is if your worried NA is a stepping stone to go back… Dont. If you try it and are not downing 6 packs in a hour great. Everyone knows there limits wheather they like to admit it or not. As long as your honest with yourself you’ll be fine.