Eat & Drink

What’s the Best Non-Alcoholic Beer You Can Buy in Grocery Stores?

Surprisingly, there are over 20 non-alcoholic beer options between Costco, Sobeys, Shoppers, Walmart, Pete’s Frootique, and Superstore locally.  For this NA beer blind taste-testing event I chose 20 varieties that fall within the domestics, pilsners, wheats, and blondes range.  No stouts, no reds, no IPAs, and no radlers.  The goal was to have the majority of the beers stay within the same taste range for each round. 

This blind taste test was a pretty good/consistent picture of what 6 regular people think of 20 NA beers. But remember, none of us are experts, and we mostly did this for fun. Most tasters commented that they were surprised by their choices when they were blinded to what they were consuming and opinions change when they’re up against other beers. I also believe bottled vs. canned has an effect on the taste/freshness/perception.

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The Beers

The Scoring

The Results – Final Scores

The Results – Each Beer Judged

Table with all NA beer data

Final Thoughts

The Beers

Prices will vary, of course, depending on where you make the purchase.  Here are the 20 beers we tested in order of price/unit, based on the full prices I paid. 

Hill Street Lager
$2.99 per 473mL can
Less than 0.5% alc./vol.

Ingredients: water, malted barley, yeast, phosphoric acid, hops. Contains: barley gluten

Neal Bro’s Lager
$2.50 per 355mL can
0.45% alc./vol.

Ingredients: water, malted barley, hops, invert Sugar, citric acid

Weihenstephaner Heffeweisen
$2.33 per 330mL bottle
Less than 0.5% alc./vol.

Ingredients: water, wheat malt, barley malt, hops, yeast

Clausthaler Original Non-Alcoholic
$1.99 per 500mL can
0.0% alc./vol.

Ingredients: water, barley malt, hop extract, fermentation carbon dioxide

Budweiser Zero
$1.92 per 355mL can
0.0% alc./vol.

Ingredients: de-alcoholized beer and natural flavour

Heineken Premium Malt Lager Alcohol Free
$1.83 per 330mL bottle
0.0% alc./vol.

Ingredients: water, malted barley, hop extract, natural flavours. Contains: barley

Budweiser Prohibition Brew
$1.75 per 355mL can
0.0% alc./vol.
This has been discontinued as of 2020 and replaced by Budweiser Zero

Ingredients: de-alcoholized beer, malt extract, hop extract and natural flavour

Erdinger Alkoholfrei
$1.75 per 330mL bottle
0.4% alc./vol.

Ingredients: water, wheat malt, barley malt, hops, yeast, carbon dioxide

Grolsch 0.0%
$1.75 per 500mL can
0.0% alc./vol.

Ingredients: water, malted barley, hops, natural aromas. Contains: barley

Beck’s Non-Alcoholic
$1.67 per 330mL bottle
0.0% alc./vol.

Ingredients: water, malt, hops

Hoegaarden Non-Alcoholic Wheat Beer
$1.67 per 330mL can
0.0% alc./vol.

Ingredients: water, barley, malt, wheat, sugar syrup, citric acid, coriander seeds, orange peel, hops

Krombacher Pils Alkoholfrei
$1.67 per 330mL bottle
0.0% alc./vol.

Ingredients: water, barley malt, carbon dioxide produced by fermentation, hops, hop extract

Labatt Blue 0.5% De-Alcoholized Pilsener
$1.50 per 341mL bottle
0.5% alc./vol.

Ingredients: de-alcoholized beer (conatains barley), fructose, hop extract, caramel colour, phosphoric acid

Partake Pale
$1.50 per 355mL can
0.3% alc./vol.

Ingredients: water, barley, hops, yeast. Contains: barley

Partake Blonde
$1.50 per 355mL can
0.3% alc./vol.

Ingredients: water, barley, hops, yeast. Contains: barley

Coors Edge Non Alcoholic
$1.33 per 355mL can
Less than 0.5% alc./vol.

Ingredients: beer, natural flavours. Contains: barley

O’Doul’s Premium (Original)
$1.17 per 355mL can
Less than 0.5% alc./vol.

Ingredients: beer (contains barley), fructose, phosphoric acid

Compliments Blonde Lager
$0.83 per 355mL can
Less than 0.5% alc./vol.

Ingredients: water, malted barley, sugars (glucose-fructose, malted barley extract), yeast, phosphoric acid, caramel colour, hops, hop extract

Molson Exel Lager
$0.83 per 355mL can
Less than 0.5% alc./vol.

Ingredients: beer, water, phosphoric acid, caramel, hop extract. Contains: barley

President’s Choice Blonde Brew De-Alcoholized Lager
$0.62 per 355mL can
Less than 0.5% alc./vol.

Ingredients: water, malted barley, corn syrup, yeast, hops, caramel colour, hop extract, sulphites

The Scoring

A call for tasters was posted in the “Sober City Chat” private Facebook group and on Sober City’s Twitter page with the following requirements to participate:

  • You must be ok with being on camera and having the footage be on YouTube, Instagram, and the Sober City website. There’s no pressure to talk to the camera or do anything other than pretending the cameras aren’t there. It will be on a volunteer basis if you’re ok with speaking into the camera to talk about your opinions of certain products.
  • I strongly urge you to give your participation a lot of thought if you believe you have a problem with alcohol. Yes, these are non-alcoholic beers but many of them have 0.5% alcohol content. Over the course of the event each participant will have the equivalent of 7 cans of non-alcoholic beer which, if not physically, the effects mentally/psychologically might make you feel buzzed and that could be a huge trigger. Also, consuming something that looks, feels, tastes, and smells like beer can also be very triggering for those with an alcohol problem. If you’re on the fence about participating based on the possibility of being tempted to drink the “real thing”, I’d suggest to sit this one out and attend a future event. But if you’re ok with this warning then I’m happy if you’re happy!
  • Must be able to decipher different flavours and be able to articulate/score each sample. You don’t have to be a tasting connoisseur but just know if one “tastes more hoppy/bitter/fresh/___” than another, for example.

6 tasters were selected and we all met on Sunday, October 4, 2020 for the event.  Each taster received a score cards for each round and a “Descriptive Words” cheat sheet to help with formulating opinions.  There were 3 rounds (each round had a grouping of beers with similar characteristics) where the top 2 beers were chosen per round, then a final round with the 6 winners to determine the top 3 NA beers.

In the first round, each tester was provided 8 cups, each labelled A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H respectively. Pourers then filled the 8 cups with 8 different NA beers from the first group. Tasters scored each NA beer 1 through 8, 8 being their least favourite and 1 being their top pick. Round 2 then commenced with 6 new NA beers where tasters tasted and scored. Round 3 was to taste the last 6 NA beers. The group’s top 2 NA beer from each of the 3 rounds was determined and those 6 were pushed to the finals. The tasters got to taste the 6 final beers for a second time alongside the other favourites and the final 3 NA beers were determined and a winner was crowned. The tasters were completely unaware of which NA beers they were tasting until the winners were announced and the results were reviewed.

The Results – Final Scores

There’s 2 ways one can determine the top 3 winners of this NA beer contest. The tournament style- the way we did it- to determine the top 3 from the top 2 of each round. Here are the final results based on this way of scoring:

Winner – Beck’s
Runner Up – Budweiser Zero
3rd Place (tie) – Labatt Blue 0.5% and Weihenstephaner Heffeweisen

If you want an even better determination of the overall winners you calculate each taster’s scoring based on a 1-10 scale (1 being the worst and 10 being the top) then find the top 3 NA beer overall. The scoring would look like this if I scored it that way:

Winner (tie) – Partake Pale and Weihenstephaner Heffeweisen
Runner Up – Budweiser Zero
3rd Place – Beck’s

The Results – The Beers

The tasters kept excellent score cards and provided very valuable feedback on each beer. Here are the comments of each beer sampled.

Round 1

Budweiser Zero
Scores in first round (1 is favourite, 8 is least favourite): 8, 1, 1, 5, 1, 1
Scores in final round (1 is favourite, 6 is least favourite): 2, 1, 1, 5, 4, 5

This NA brew (and Weihenstephaner Heffeweisen) had the most amount of tasters scoring it as their favourite of all 20 beers.

What the fans said:

  • Smells like beer- fruity, watery, fresh/refreshing, light aftertaste. I like it! I would drink it all night hanging out with friends. [this taster ranked this as their favourite in the first round but scored it lower during the finals when it was up against others]
  • Light, watery, sweet taste [this taster scored it as their favourite]
  • Fruity aroma, light, bit of a bitter backdrop which gives it structure. Fresh, yeasty/bready, sunshine bright, citrus [this taster scored it as their favourite in both the first round and the finals]
  • Light and full, medium-bodied. Seems balanced to me! [this taster ranked this as their favourite in the first round but scored it lower during the finals when it was up against others and commented “this is more like a sweet fizzy drink than a proper beer. Syrupy?”]

What the haters said:

  • Fruity, sweet, too basic. Totally tastes like grocery store non-alcoholic beer. Light colour, thin, watery. [this taster scored this as their least favourite in the first round but they moved it up the ranks during the finals]
  • Almost scentless, light and fizzy, clean mild flavour, crispy, slightly woody, minimal hops. Complexity- D, drinkability- B, believability- B. Closest alcoholic beer comparison- Budweiser [this taster scored this beer a 5 out of 6 both rounds they tasted it and in the finals, added the comment “weird chalky taste reminiscent of Rockets candy minus the sugar”]

Budweiser Prohibition
Scores (1 is favourite, 8 is least favourite): 6, 6, 2, 2, 6, 3

I included this beer eventhough it’s been discontinued (as of 2020) because I wanted to see how it stood up to it’s replacement (Bud Zero). The tasters in this blind test taste scored Bud Zero much higher than the Prohibition Brew so the folks over at Budweiser made some wise decisions.

What the fans said:

  • Faint hoppy aroma, medium-bodied, woody, slightly sour taste, sweet floral finish, it grew on me. Complexity- B, drinkability- B, believability- B. Closest alcoholic beer comparison- European pilsners, e.g., Golden Pheasant
  • Citrus hoppy smell, light and full, tart taste

What the haters said:

  • More like hop-pop than beer. Woody flavour. Would not buy.
  • No real smell, watery, bland, malty, reminds me of American beer. Would drink if I had to but not multiple.
  • A little more dank on the nose, malty, fruity, a little heavier, a little flat on the finish

O’Doul’s Premium (Original)
Scores (1 is favourite, 8 is least favourite): 7, 8, 3, 7, 5, 2

For being one of the popular NA beer brands I was surprised to see our tasters score this the way they did but the numbers don’t lie! At least the price per beer is lower than most.

What the fans said:

  • Fruity smell, rich and creamy, malty, woody taste
  • Light-bodied, a little watery for me… Actually, the more I drink it the more I like it

What the haters said:

  • No nose at all, tastes like lemon?! More citrus than beer. Would not buy.
  • Faintly sweet smell, medium-bodied, bland, woody, dry, bitter aftertaste. Forgettable. Complexity- C, drinkability- C, beleivability- D. Closest alcoholic beer comparison- Rainier, 50
  • Would drink 1 or 2 but not all night. Smells hoppy, medium-bodied, dull, slightly bitter but also watery.
  • No discernable odor, weird taste, bitter but funky and flat/unstructured. [this taster scored it as their least favourite]

Coors Edge
Scores (1 is favourite, 8 is least favourite): 5, 7, 4, 6, 7, 6

This one is prevalent in the NA beer section of pretty much any grocery store in HRM but is it really that great? Nope. At least it’s one of the inexpensive ones.

What the fans said:

  • Woody sour smell. Bitter, tart, strong taste [this taster scored it mid-range]

What the haters said:

  • Hoppy smell, starts bold then turns to a cleaner-like taste, perhaps with bubble gum. Weird.
  • Fruity nose, sweet, low carbonation, malty, kinda woody, lack of alcohol is apparent. Complexity- C, Drinkability- B, believability- D. Closest alcoholic beer comparison- Harp
  • Aftertaste kind of like mushrooms and even though I like mushrooms, I don’t think I like them in beer form.
  • Light but has a creamy taste/feel. I would never drink that under any circumstances.

Labatt Blue 0.5%
Scores in first round (1 is favourite, 8 is least favourite): 4, 2, 7, 4, 2, 4
Scores in final round (1 is favourite, 6 is least favourite): 3, 4, 3, 2, 5, 4

Tasters didn’t love this beer, nor did they hate it. It’s an alright option overall but there’s definitely better ones out there.

What the fans said:

  • No nose, gold colour, effervescent, more full-bodied, could buy this. Tastes like a light beer.
  • Almost scentless, medium-bodied, fine bubbles, subtly hoppy, slightly fruity finish, decent if a bit lacking in unique character. Complexity- C, drinkability- A, believability- B. Closest alcoholic beer comparison- Keith’s. [this taster scored this beer slightly higher when they tried it in the finals for the second time]
  • No smell, watery, light but full, hoppy/malty. No bad, I’d drink multiple with friends. [in the finals this taster somewhat changed their tune when this beer was up against other winners. The second time around they commented “No smell, very watery. If it had alcohol in it, it would be a beer I’d drink a ton of, but it’s so flavourless- there’s no point, better options”]
  • Fruity nose, crisp and refreshing. Fairly one-dimensional but inoffensive. [this taster ranked this beer slightly lower in the finals when it was up against the others]

What the haters said:

  • Sour, malty smell. Light and full. Tart, bread taste leather gross lol
  • Watery, tastes like nothing, easy and light to drink. It’s okay.

Molson Exel
Scores (1 is favourite, 8 is least favourite): 3, 3, 6, 1, 4, 7

At $0.83 per can this one is a decent option with mid-range scores and one taster loving it.

What the fans said:

  • Full-bodied, effervescent, might buy. Starts as beer but metallic taste after. Definite hoppy.
  • Subtle malt aroma, medium-bodied, fine bubbles, slightly sweet, toasty, malty. Complexity- B, drinkability- A, believability- B. Closest alcoholic beer comparison- Marigold (Sober Island) [this taster ranked this as their favourite]
  • Watery, refreshing/light, malty. I’d drink it if offered but maybe just one or two.
  • Faint malty odor, very malty sweet, don’t seem to tire of it.

What the haters said:

  • Yeast wood smell, rich and full. Woody, bready.
  • Tastes like sap, a little too sweet but not awful. This may have been the only one I could sort of smell.

Hill Street Lager
Scores (1 is favourite, 8 is least favourite): 2, 5, 8, 3, 8, 8

This was the most expensive NA beer of the bunch at $2.99 per can. And with scores like these, can they really get away with that price tag?

What the fans said:

  • Darker colour, hoppy, malty, would buy. Great aroma- mushroomy. I get that it’s non-alcoholic but it satisfies that itch! Almost tea-like taste.
  • Fruity, spicy, piney aroma, full-bodied, quite sweet, hoppy, bready, rich. Pretty good at first. Complexity- A, drinkability- C, believability- A. Closest alcoholic beer comparison- British ale

What the haters said:

  • Bready taste, tastes like pennies- I hate it. Gross. [This taster scored this as their least favourite]
  • Sour, smokey smell, woody citrus, throw-up-esque! Nasty!
  • Sweet malty odor, tastes almost like a beer! Like fresh out of the brewery tank. It’s different and made an impression but maybe a little unfinished tasting? The more I drink, the more I don’t like it.
  • Bitter, earthy, lingering aftertaste. Gets worse the more I drink, this would be terrible the more I drink [this taster rated this their least favourite]

Neal Bros Lager
Scores (1 is favourite, 8 is least favourite): 1, 4, 5, 8, 3, 5

This one is the second most expensive beer of the 20 coming in at $2.50 per can (can be purchased at Pete’s Frootique). It’s scores are all over the place with someone hating it, someone loving it, and most thinking it’s just okay.

What the fans said:

  • Sweet smell, feels like it has a head. Actually tastes like beer even if it’s weak, tastes like Becks. Would buy. [this taster ranked this as their favourite]
  • Fruity, hoppy, full-bodied and bitter. I like the taste and would drink one if I craved a beer.
  • Mild odor of faint grain, bitterness but flat finish

What the haters said:

  • Fermented odor, low carbonation, somewhat creamy body, malty, blah, tastes like it’s been sitting out. Complexity- C, drinkability C, believability- D. Closest alcoholic beer comparison- keg party crap [this taster scored this as their least favourite]

Round 2

Partake Pale
Scores in first round (1 is favourite, 6 is least favourite): 3, 1, 1, 5, 1, 2
Scores in final round (1 is favourite, 6 is least favourite): 4, 5, 6, 6, 1, 3

This NA brew had the second most amount of tasters scoring it as their favourite of all 20 beers. But when it was tasted for a second time in the finals against 5 others, it came in 4th place.

What the fans said:

  • Very citrusy aroma. Oh yum! I can taste the beer garden! Hoppy and structured, bright citrus hops. [this taster ranked this as their favourite in the first round and the second least favourite once it was up against the other finalists.]
  • Fresh and light/creamy, medium-bodied. Decent, easy to drink and severe aftertaste
  • Smells fruity and really good, taste fruity, slightly bitter, light but tasty. Very pleasant, good for any occasion. I love the citrusy taste [this taster scored this as their favourite in both the first round and the finals]
  • Woody, cat pee smell. Rich and creamy, sour and hoppy
  • Big nose, hoppy, YUMM! Dark, inviting colour. Tastes like non-alcoholic but it’s like there’s pride in that. Very balanced, little to no aftertaste. Would buy.

What the haters said:

  • Nothing special or noteworthy
  • Intense spruce/hops aroma, almost minty. Light body, very dry, woody, slightly earthy, good on the nose but watery finish. Complexity- C, drinkability B, believability- D. Closest alcoholic beer comparison- Session IPA but I think this is Partake Pale

Beck’s
Scores in first round (1 is favourite, 6 is least favourite): 2, 3, 4, 4, 2, 1
Scores in final round (1 is favourite, 6 is least favourite): 1, 3, 5, 1, 2, 1

All tasters scored this beer mid-high and it won first place when it was tasted for a second time in the finals. The price tag is really reasonable at $1.67 per bottle and can be bought at Sobeys and Superstore.

What the fans said:

  • Rich and creamy, malty, woody, easy to drink. Tastes similar to [Partake Pale] [this taster ranked this as their favourite both times they sampled it]
  • Smells skunky, tastes good and medium-bodied, malty. Reminds me of Heineken, I’d drink it with friends. It’s pleasant, kinda bitter but nice. [this taster had the same opinions the first time they tasted this beer and during the finals and scored it in 2nd place both times]
  • Bitter, bready, earthy/floral, malty, sour smell
  • BECKS! Fantastic Euro taste, refreshing, full body, effervescent crisp! Feels like you’re not denying yourself. I would drink this in between real beers. [this taster ranked this as their second fave the first time tasting it in round 2 and ranked it as their #1 in the finals]
  • Smells European. I can taste the green bottle. It’s got that bitterness and dankness that I want from a Becks/Heineken [this taster scored this as a 3 both times they tasted it and in the finals added “hoppy enough that it masks the lack of alcohol”]

What the haters said:

  • Bright, slightly citrus smell, medium body, fizzy, dry, bitter finish, bad aftertaste but tastes like a “real” beer. Complexity- C, drinkability- C, believability- A. Closest alcoholic beer comparison- Canadian [in the finals this taster scored this beer as their favourite and added “similar nose to [Erdinger] but drier. Develops a bitter aftertaste after a few sips]
  • Dank, hoppy, sour smell. Bitter, toasty tang in a bad way.

Clausthaler
Scores (1 is favourite, 6 is least favourite): 1, 4, 6, 1, 3, 6

People overall liked this one and a few tasters said this was very similar to Beck’s in taste and scoring for top place.

What the fans said:

  • No smell really. Tastes good, a little bitter but I like it. Hoppy/malty.
  • Sweet, lilght, full taste. Refreshing, more malty. Just a good all-around beer. Pleasing on all levels. Patio beer. [this taster scored this as their favourite]
  • Bready, somewhat sour smell, medium body, complex, balanced, grassy bitter finish. Really good and pretty convincing- a winner! (maybe). Complexity- A, drinkability- A, believability- A. Closest alcoholic beer comparison- E. European pilsener.

What the haters said:

  • This one reminds me of wax! Crayon smell/aftertaste [this taster scored this as their least favourite]
  • I’d drink one or two but not multiple, but it’s not great.
  • Maltier odor and flavour, fairly well-balanced, a bit of a flat malt at the end. Kinda basic.

Krombacher
Scores (1 is favourite, 6 is least favourite): 4, 5, 3, 3, 4, 4

Pretty middle-of-the-road beer for scores and price.

What the fans said:

  • Sour, fruity smell, rich, creamy, bitter, spicy.
  • Distinctly sweet, malty smell. Creamy body, toasty, malty taste, smooth finish. Too sweet for me but some would like it. Complexity- C, drinkability- B+, believability- B. Closest alcoholic beer comparison- ?

What the haters said:

  • Toasty! Not bad but I don’t think I’d like more than one can/bottle of this.
  • Smells hoppy. Super malty, not horrible but kind of heavy. I’d only drink one. Tastes like pennies. Similar to [Clausthaler].
  • Throw-up-ish
  • Slight tomato taste. Clean, effervescent crisp but somehow basic? Nothing really distinctive enough to note except the tomato taste.
  • No discernable odor- floral? I can’t decide if I like it. Sweet and malty. Tastes farmyard brewery-like. Similar to [Hill Street Lager] but more hops/structure.

Heineken
Scores (1 is favourite, 6 is least favourite): 6, 2, 2, 6, 5, 3

I’m not sure what Heineken uses for “natural flavours” but our tasters weren’t that happy with it. With this being a more popular beer brand I was surprised it didn’t rank higher. You can purchase this at Costco, Sobeys, and Superstore.

What the fans said:

  • Tastes like someone dropped a jolly rancher in it. A little sweet but easy to drink. More like a pop than a beer.
  • Hoppy, fruity smell. Thin, citrus, tart.
  • Smells slightly malty, tastes familiar, yeasty and crisp. Wheaty like a witbier.

What the haters said:

  • Malty smell, tastes light, slightly watery, but a little bitter. Not a huge fan but would drink one if offered. Similar to [Krombacher].
  • Lemon cleaner taste. Off putting. Nose is off putting. I know it’s non-alcoholic. Couldn’t drink more than one. Would not buy. [this taster ranked this as their least favourite]
  • Fruity aroma, expecting sweetness, pasty. Medium body, fizzy. Slightly sour, a bit metallic, tastes a little off, but reasonably complex outside the crappiness. Not a fan. Complexity- B, drinkability- D, believability- C. Closest alcoholic beer comparison- Bad home brew. [this taster ranked this as their least favourite]

Grolsch
Scores (1 is favourite, 6 is least favourite): 5, 6, 5, 2, 6, 5

Most people ranked this NA beer the lowest with just one person giving it A’s across the board. We’re also curious as to what the “natural flavours” ingredient is because we weren’t impressed.

What the fans said:

  • Slight sweet and woody aroma, medium body, balanced, spicy and woody. Another solid beer. Complexity- A, drinkability- A, believability- A. Closest alcoholic beer comparison- Dirty Blonde.

What the haters said:

  • Tastes soapy. Good if you like ‘Thrills’ gum.
  • Doesn’t have much of a taste. Pretty watery but slightly bitter. It’s not pleasant. Hate it. Would not drink. [this taster ranked this as their least favourite]
  • Hoppy and fruity with a bit of spice? Quiet the medley. Makes for an interesting mix but lingers and not really beery. Would not buy.
  • Sweet malt aroma, sweet grain, a tad flat tasting. Maybe too sweet for me. [this taster ranked this as their least favourite]

Round 3

This was the most lack-luster round with one taster commenting “I didn’t really like any [of these beers]. All very watery and tasteless with slight hints of a taste. I hope I never have to taste any of these again.”

Erdinger
Scores in first round (1 is favourite, 6 is least favourite): 2, 5, 3, 2, 5, 2
Scores in final round (1 is favourite, 6 is least favourite): 5, 6, 2, 3, 6, 6

A lot of bars and restaurants have this beer as their non-alcoholic option so I thought, naturally, it’d rank higher and while it did make it to the finals, the scores weren’t that great.

What the fans said:

  • Fresh, slightly fruity aroma, medium body, malty, grainy, slightly sweet. Tastes like my fave from round 1 [Molson Exel]. Complexity- B, drinkability- A, believability- B. Closest alcoholic beer comparison- Marigold (Sober Island)
  • Decent, hoppy/malty. [in the finals, this taster dropped the score a few points and added they don’t like the aftertaste]

What the haters said:

  • I like it but it has a weird aftertaste, and gets worse the more you drink it. Watery, light-bodied. [in the finals this taster still didn’t like this beer and added “tastes like a paper cup. Gross, I hate it”]
  • Tomato taste again? Malty, very weak taste. So non-alcoholic. Smell not enticing. Trying too hard. Would not buy. [this taster moved this one down the ranks during the finals]
  • Liked this one at first but not so much when I came back to it. Aftertaste a bit sweet?
  • Malty head, malty taste. Hollow and flat tasting. I want to score this last but [Hoegaarden] is just too silly. [this taster was able to score this as their last in the finals]

Hoegaarden
Scores (1 is favourite, 6 is least favourite): 4, 6, 1, 6, 6, 6

This beer is definitely one that you’ll either love or hate. For our tasting event, most judges hated it and just one loved it. Which makes sense- this is the only brew of the bunch with coriander seeds and orange peel.

What the fans said:

  • Woody, smokey smell. Creamy and full. Spicy, soapy, floral. [this taster ranked this as their favourite]

What the haters said:

  • Did not expect that taste. Wow, I do not like it. Tastes sweet. Gross, I hate it. [this taster scored this as their least favourite]
  • Way too floral- I’m drinking rose water and fruit. First one to make me cringe. This is not beer! This the worst of all 20!
  • Sour, hoppy, citrusy, strong smell. Flatish, syrupy body. Very sweet and fruity, fermented, floral. Way too heavily flavoured, doesn’t taste like beer. Complexity- B, drinkability- D, believability- D. Closest comparison- cough syrup [this taster scored this as their least favourite]
  • This is a silly beer. Juicy burst- huge Hefeweizen thing going on with banana. I wasn’t ready for that! Almost bubblegum. Too sweet. [this taster scored this as their least favourite]
  • Fruity, sweet though, like Froot Loops. Too sweet tasting, reminds me of a flouride treatment at the dentist. [this taster scored this as their least favourite]

President’s Choice Blonde
Scores (1 is favourite, 6 is least favourite): 1, 3, 6, 2, 4, 3

This was the least expensive NA beer of the bunch at $0.62 per can and with scores like this I think it’s an alright choice if you don’t wanna spend a lot of money. Just beware, it’s pretty boring. It’s also the only brew containing corn syrup.

What the fans said:

  • It’s trying to be bold but just not getting there. It’s like they added water to what was a bold beer to tone it down. It’s not bad though, just pedestrian.
  • Makes me want to go camping. Smooth ‘n easy but full flavoured. A bit of hops.

What the haters said:

  • It’s okay but super bland. Slightly malty/bitter. Just has no taste but out of all of them I guess I’d drink it if I had to.
  • Spicy, malty aroma. Light body. Almost flavourless, slightly sweet and toasty. Way too heavily flavoured, doesn’t taste like beer. Complexity- D, drinkability- A, believability- C. Closest alcoholic beer comparison- Tall Ship
  • Not very flavourful, more like fizzy water. Might as well drink a Perrier.

Compliments Blonde
Scores (1 is favourite, 6 is least favourite): 3, 4, 2, 5, 3, 4

Coming in at the second least expensive beer ($0.83 per can) this grocery store brand brew has the longest ingredient list and some pretty “okay” scores.

What the fans said:

  • Earthy spicy smell. Thin, bubbly. Malty but not much taste.
  • Bubbly but flat taste. Doesn’t taste too fake but basic.
  • Citrus, quenching, crushable, easy and approachable.

What the haters said:

  • Watery, slight taste. It’s not amazing. Light-bodied.
  • Smells like feet. Nothing distinctive at all. Meh. Limbo beer.
  • Almost odorless. Light body. Very slightly sour and bready. Amazingly, even closest to water than [President’s Choice Blonde]. Complexity- F, drinkability- A, believability- C. Closest comparison- Perrier
  • Basic, not memorable. Watery.
  • Watery and lacking any distinct flavour. Boring!

Partake Blonde
Scores (1 is favourite, 6 is least favourite): 6, 2, 5, 3, 4, 5

The group loved Partake’s Pale WAY more than the Blonde. This one got mostly mid-low scores.

What the fans said:

  • Slight earthy taste, light-bodied
  • Faint woody and sweet smell, medium body. Intense honey taste on attack with toasty and woody notes. Interesting but not beery enough. Complexity- B, drinkability- A, believability- C. Closest comparison- some kind of honey lager. [this taster scored this mid-range]
  • Smell malty. It’s dank, barnyard sweet malt. Took me by surprise, eyes squinted, palate clenched.

What the haters said:

  • Bitter but without the full body so just tastes like black tea. Nothing flavourful or beer-like at all. Trying too hard to be “craft”. Not hitting at all.
  • Hoppy, soapy.
  • So watered down. Tastes flat.
  • Woody aftertaste, bad woody, not good. Tastes like I want to like it, but it won’t let me.
  • So watered down. Slight earthy taste. Light-bodied.

Weihenstephaner Heffeweisen
Scores in first round (1 is favourite, 6 is least favourite): 5, 1, 4, 1, 1, 1
Scores in final round (1 is favourite, 6 is least favourite): 6, 2, 4, 4, 3, 2

This NA brew (and Budweiser Zero) had the most amount of tasters scoring it as their favourite of all 20 beers. It’s also one of the highest priced beers at $2.33 per bottle.

What the fans said:

  • Hoppy, smokey smell. Rich and full, bready, malty.
  • Strong spicy smell, somewhat hopsy/smokey. Medium body. Malty, spicy, “on lees”. Pretty solid, just slightly weak on finish. Complexity- A, drinkability- B+, believability- A. Closest comparison- Don de Dieu or Achouffe [this taster ranked this as their favourite the first time they tried it but they dropped their ranking by 3 points in the finals and commented “I like it less than on first taste… may have just liked it due to it following several disappointing ones”]
  • Smells a little fruity- Oh there it is. Banana, we’ve got a witbier! More balanced and realistic than [Hoegaarden] [this taster scored this as their favourite in the first round and their second favourite in the finals]
  • Fruity and malty, full-bodied, I like it! A little heavy, could drink a bunch in a row. Tastes like a decent weibe beer though. [this taster scored this as their favourite in round one and their second favourite in the finals]
  • A little spicy tasting but it’s still watery. Medium-bodied.

What the haters said:

  • Mushroomy taste. Same crap as [Partake Blonde] trying to be “crafty” and not hitting at all. So far removed from its original form. Flat and one-dimensional. [this taster scored this their second least favourite the first time they tried it and their least fave the second time they tried it in the finals. They added “I can’t tell what this is but has a slight bacon taste? Meh”]

Table – All the NA Beer Data

Final Thoughts

Whether you want to down one of these between alcoholized beers or you want the beer taste without the alcohol effects, I think non-alcoholic beer is a fantastic option for a lot of people. But is it a good option for everyone? Definitely not! Read my post on questioning if Non-Alcoholic Beer is right for you here.

I hope you’re now better equipped to make good choices when it comes to your next non-alcoholic beer purchase. I know we are!

One Comment

  • GRAHAM

    While I applaud the effort and fun that went into your mini study, I think to post such findings to people trying to recover from substance abuse, potentially creates the desire for “real” alcoholic substitutes. Having been in recovery for 16 years I know for me, to even try one of these brands, would likely initiate the slippery slope down the wrong path. For those that don’t suffer from our disease this study may be good for gatherings when acceptance and sobriety is required. However, I suspect people checking out your website aren’t searching for an alcoholic reduced substitute. They are searching for guidance, wisdom, and help. Which I believe your site does well. These are my brief thoughts. Have a great 24. Cheers

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