The following excerpts are from our new e-book, Guide to Making Non-Alcoholic Beer Through Fermentation, which is now available for download!
Whether you're a professional brewer or homebrewer, this comprehensive guide provides all the information to safely and successfully brew a non-alcoholic or low-alc beer. While we highlighting the introductions of non-alcoholic beers in this blog, through our guide you can learn more about the food safety risks, pasteurization methods, guidelines of use for our non-alc strain NAY for professional brewers, as well as non-alc/low-alc recipes for pro and homebrewers alike.
Why Make Non-Alcoholic Beers?
Non-alcoholic beers are now one of the biggest trends in craft brewing. There are many reasons for this trend. Many beer consumers are cutting back on alcohol consumption, but do not want to settle for grocery store brands of NA beer.
As a result, craft brewers are starting to explore production of non-alcoholic beers at an accelerating rate. If this sounds like you, congratulations! You’ve found the right place. Before you proceed with adding a bunch of NA beers to your brew schedule, I recommend clearly answering the following questions:
- Why are you making a non-alcoholic beer?
- Who will you be selling your non-alcoholic beer to? What channels will you sell through? Taproom? Local distro? Looking to go country-wide? What audience are you appealing to? Are you looking to grow sales from existing customers or add a new customer base?
- Are you prepared to dump a few batches of beer? These beers are not easy to make. We are here to help guide you, but you can still expect a lot of trial and error when developing your non-alc brew.
- Are you sure this is the best use of your brewery’s R&D time? Consider if the time would be better spent working on other projects that will contribute more to the bottom line of your business.
If these questions didn’t scare you off, or if you’re just curious about how to make NA beers, read on! Our goal is to provide the best guidance for producing non-alcoholic beers through fermentation.
NAY is our maltose-negative yeast that makes brewing non-alcoholic beers easier.
Introduction to Non Alcoholic Beers
By most definitions, non-alcoholic beers (or “NA Beers”, or “Non Alc Beer”) are generally considered to contain less than 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV). Alcohol-free beers by comparison contain zero alcohol (0.0%).
There are several different methods a brewer can use to make non-alcoholic beers:
- Dealcoholization through evaporation (e.g. vacuum distillation)
- Dealcoholization through membranes (e.g. reverse osmosis)
- Arrested fermentation with standard yeast
- Limited fermentation with maltose-negative or maltotriose-negative yeast
- Cold contact fermentation
Broadly speaking, we can divide NA beer production into two categories: dealcoholized beers, and fermented NA beers.
There are two subcategories of dealcoholization methods. The first is dealcoholization through evaporation, otherwise known as vacuum distillation. In this method, the beer is heated under vacuum and distilled to remove the ethanol. This reduces the alcohol content of the beer, but can also strip some of the volatiles (such as yeast esters). This method has been used for many decades to produce non-alcoholic beers.
The second dealcoholization method uses fine membranes to separate the alcohol molecules from other soluble molecules, similar to how a reverse osmosis device operates. Since pressure is used rather than heat and the separation can be more precise than some older vacuum distillation methods, membrane dealcoholization can be an effective way to produce full-flavour dealcoholized beer. The tradeoff for this method is typically that there are high capital costs associated with units capable of high throughput.
Overall, most dealcoholization technologies are not accessible to smaller craft brewers. However, new solutions such as contract beer producers investing in dealcoholization and pasteurizing equipment, as well as the possibility of mobile or rental dealcoholization and pasteurization outfits (a similar business model to mobile canning).
By contrast, producing non-alcoholic beers through fermentation can be accessible to smaller craft breweries, especially if they have access to shared or contract pasteurization equipment.
This guide pulls from several different resources created by Escarpment Labs and others, including:
Want to learn more?
Continue your exploration of non-alcoholic beer by downloading our e-book.
Additional topics include:
- How do Brewers Make Fermented NA Beers?
- Food Safety Risks of Non-Alcoholic Beer
- Pasteurization Requirements for Non-Alcoholic Beer
- Can I Homebrew a Non-Alcoholic Beer?
- NAY (Non-Alcoholic Yeast): Characteristics, Instructions of Use, and More
- Low and Non-Alcoholic Beer Recipes