The Science of Brewing Alcohol Free Beer

The Science of Brewing Alcohol Free Beer

Alcohol free & non alcoholic beer is growing more and more popular. But have you ever wondered how it’s made? We can date some of the first alcohol-free/ non-alcoholic beers back to the prohibition period. But over time their manufacturing process has changed and become much easier.

Nowadays leading brands like Heineken and Budweiser have even created their own alcohol-free beers. Non-alcoholic beers need to contain 0.5% ABV or less, alcohol-free beer can contain a little more. But how do manufacturers make them?

It might surprise you to learn that manufacturers usually make alcohol-free beers in much the same way as regular alcoholic beers. The beer is brewed the same way until a certain point. Before the beer is completed, the alcohol is removed from the mixture.

This is where the science comes in. The scientific process is in how the alcohol is removed from the beer. This can actually be done in a number of different ways. However, thanks to modern innovations beer can now be proved with little to no alcohol content at all!

Let’s take a look at all the production techniques in more detail, so you can really understand the science behind them.

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Vacuum Distillation

With vacuum distillation, the beer mixture is heated. This causes the alcoholic content to evaporate from the beer. This method is carried out in a vacuum chamber and it works by lowering the boiling point of the alcohol. This process is popular as it helps preserve the flavour and fragrance of the beer. 

Reverse Osmosis

This process works quite differently from vacuum distillation. In this process, fermented beer is pushed through a thin membrane. This filtration process uses microscopic pores to remove alcoholic on a molecular level. This separates the alcohol from the beer mixture to create an alcohol-free/ non-alcoholic beer.

Arrested Fermentation

Arrested fermentation works by either removing the yeast from the beer. Or by instead directly stopping the yeast from becoming active. This process works by directly cooling down the beer mixture to essentially stop the yeast from growing.

All of these processes can work quite well however there are potential issues. Vacuum distillation and reverse osmosis for example are very expensive procedures. They also are very delicate processes as they can strip away the flavour of the beverage if you’re not careful.

Even arrested fermentation while often being cheaper, does come with some significant risks. Because the yeast is prevented from growing it can easily weaken the flavour or make it undesirable to people. This has led to new more innovative processes that allow brewers to make beer without any alcohol at all.

These methods are ideal for smaller brewers as they won’t require a huge investment. It can also help alcohol-free/ non-alcoholic beers taste much more full and flavourful. As alcohol-free beers grow more and more popular we are likely to see more innovative processes being developed in the future.

Alcohol-free beer is growing more popular year on year. So, we look forward to seeing the new development in the alcohol-free/ non-alcoholic beer industry. As we discover more about how these beverages can be made, we will almost certainly see new exciting alcohol-free beers being developed as well.

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