The 10 Best Nonalcoholic Beers & Hop Seltzers
Nonalcoholic beers are everywhere these days. As more people participate in trends like Dry January (or Damp January) and Sober October, or just look to reduce their alcohol consumption, the selection of alcohol-free brews has steadily increased over the past decade to meet demand in the market. While the number of options may seem overwhelming, that's where this list for the best nonalcoholic beers and hop seltzers (a beverage made with hops, a part of the Humulus lupulus plant that lends beer its distinctive bitterness, aroma and flavor) comes in handy.
"These drinks can be a great option for someone who does not want to have alcohol, but wants something that feels more celebratory than water or seltzer," says Jessica Ball, M.S., RD, EatingWell's nutrition editor. "That said, these drinks still contain calories with minimal vitamins and nutrients, so they are better for an occasional refreshment versus daily drinking. And if you're trying to cut down your alcohol consumption, these drinks could be a helpful tool, especially in social settings."
When choosing a nonalcoholic beer or hop seltzer, we looked for products that met our standard parameters for a healthy drink: 250 calories or less per serving, with a maximum of 140 milligrams sodium. We also looked for products that had no more than 15 grams carbohydrates. As Ball explains, "These drinks don't offer much, if any, protein or fiber to slow the absorption of the carbohydrates they contain, so limiting the drinks to 15 grams of carbohydrates or fewer can help people avoid sharp spikes in blood glucose levels that the body cannot use before the energy is stored." In addition, we looked for products that had less than 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV), as according to U.S. law, any beverage with 0.5% alcohol or more is considered an alcoholic beverage.
To help you find the best nonalcoholic beers and hop seltzers, we conducted a blind taste test with more than 50 products that met our nutrition parameters. We tried each beer or seltzer as is and made notes about the taste, appearance and aroma. One of our favorite brands? Athletic Brewing Co. was a winner in multiple categories. Read on for our full list of the best nonalcoholic beers and hop seltzers.
Our Product Recommendations
- Best Amber Ale: Wellbeing Hellraiser Dark Amber
- Best Coffee Cream Ale: BrewDog Tornado Joe
- Best Gose: BrewDog Mostow Lū'au
- Best Hop Seltzer: Hoplark 0.0 Citra
- Best IPA: Athletic Brewing Co. Run Wild
- Best Lager (it's a tie!): Athletic Brewing Co. Athletic Lite
- Best Lager (it's a tie!): Stella Artois Liberté
- Best Pale Ale: Athletic Brewing Co. Upside Dawn
- Best Stout: Guinness 0
- Best Wheat Beer: Weihenstephaner Nonalcoholic Wheat Beer
Best Amber Ale: Wellbeing Hellraiser Dark Amber
The color of an amber ale is one of its most defining characteristics, typically ranging in shade from golden to amber. The appealing copper hue of Wellbeing's Hellraiser Dark Amber caught the eye of our testers. In addition to the color, the flavor of the ale stood out. The beer had a smooth tartness, just like what you would expect in a red ale, according to one tester. In addition to the tart flavor, the nonalcoholic beer also has spicy hops. One tester said they "would actually drink" it on their own, while another said they "love it."
Nutrition for Wellbeing Hellraiser Dark Amber, per 12-oz. can
80 calories, 12 g carbohydrates, 2.4 g protein, < 0.5% ABV
Best Coffee Cream Ale: BrewDog Tornado Joe
If you love coffee, you'll be a fan of BrewDog's Tornado Joe, a coffee cream ale. While it was the only one our testers tried in the category, the brew received resounding praise across the board when it came to its aroma and flavor. Made with coarse-ground and whole-bean coffee, the ale has a clear aroma of coffee, which was a highlight in the tasting. The coffee comes from Thunderkiss, a brand out of Columbus, Ohio. BrewDog's Tornado Joe also delivered on flavor, which was a mix of coffee and vanilla. While one tester thought the nonalcoholic beer was a little on the sweet side, overall, it had a nice flavor that's sure to satisfy beer and coffee drinkers alike.
Nutrition for BrewDog Tornado Joe, per 12-oz. can
36 calories, 7 g carbohydrates, < 0.5% ABV
Best Gose: BrewDog Mostow Lū'au
When you pour a glass of BrewDog's Mostow Lū'au, you may be taken aback by its bright yellow color—like our testers were. But don't let that deter you! The nonalcoholic beer's delicious flavor made up for its appearance. With notes of mango and guava, our testers enjoyed the fruitiness of the nonalcoholic beer. While both flavors were noticeable, our testers found that the mango was more present on the palate. The beer also had a nice sourness, something that appealed to our testers and reminded them of a traditional gose. This flavorful nonalcoholic beer was brewed in collaboration with Browar Stu Mostów, a Poland-based brewery.
Nutrition for BrewDog Mostow Lū'au, per 12-oz. can
35 calories, 6.5 g carbohydrates, < 0.5% ABV
Best Hop Seltzer: Hoplark 0.0 Citra
When you want a refreshing beverage, but don't want a nonalcoholic beer, hop seltzers are a great alternative—particularly if you are a fan of India pale ales. Hop seltzers are made with hops, a part of the Humulus lupulus plant that lends beer its distinctive bitterness, aroma and flavor, and the hops shine in Hoplark's 0.0 Citra. Made with Citra hops, which are known for their citrus flavors, this seltzer is double dry hopped, meaning hops are added twice. The result is a bitter-forward seltzer that our testers drank up. In addition to the bitterness, the aroma of pine was also present. Our testers called this seltzer refreshing, and one tester said "I like this one a lot." Plus, the seltzer reminded our testers of a strong IPA, so both seltzer and IPA drinkers will be happy with this beverage.
Nutrition for Hoplark 0.0 Citra, per 16-oz. can
0 calories, 0 carbohydrates, 0 g sugar, 0.0% ABV
Best IPA: Athletic Brewing Co. Run Wild
Our testers tried 10 India pale ales during the tasting, and Athletic Brewing's Run Wild was a consistent favorite. Compared to others in the category, this nonalcoholic beer had a nice color, whereas others seemed too light or pale to be deemed an IPA. Run Wild features a blend of five Northwest hops, and our testers picked up the bitterness, both on the nose and on the palate. The flavor was strong, and it reminded our testers of a regular beer—perfect if you're looking to enjoy a classic IPA minus the alcohol.
Nutrition for Athletic Brewing Run Wild, per 12-oz. can
65 calories, 14 g carbohydrates, < 1 g protein, 0 g fat, < 0.5% ABV
Best Lager (tied): Athletic Brewing Co. Athletic Lite
The nonalcoholic lagers were so good, our testers couldn't pick just one! One of our top picks was Athletic Brewing's Lite—an apt moniker for the nonalcoholic beer. While it was clear to testers that they were drinking a nonalcoholic beverage, they found it to be light and refreshing on the palate. Plus, the lager-style brew had a nice pale golden color, which was appealing to the eye.
Nutrition for Athletic Brewing Co. Athletic Lite, per 12-oz. can
25 calories, 5 g carbohydrates, 0 g protein, 0 g fat, < 0.5% ABV
Best Lager (tied): Stella Artois Liberté
Stella Artois' Liberté was another favorite in the nonalcoholic lager category. While the lager had an appealing golden color, the flavor was the main highlight for our testers. The lager's bitterness was apparent, and it had "a lot of complexity," according to one tester. But the key selling point came from one tester who said, "I can't tell it's nonalcoholic," a sentiment echoed by others who said it tasted just like a lager. This praise is great news for beer lovers who want all the same flavors of a classic Stella Artois, but without the buzz.
Nutrition for Stella Artois Liberté, per 11.2-oz. bottle
59 calories, 13.2 g carbohydrates, 1.5 g protein, 0 g fat, 0.0% ABV
Best Pale Ale: Athletic Brewing Co. Upside Dawn
If you're looking for a more lightly hopped ale, Athletic Brewing's Upside Dawn is a great choice. While it's pale in color, our testers were impressed with the aroma and flavor of the nonalcoholic brew. The aroma was mellow, a key descriptor not awarded to others in the category that smelled overly strong. Meanwhile, the citrus flavor in the beer was clear, and one tester said the flavors were "really well balanced." Upside Dawn is a delicious choice if you're a fan of pale ales—but even one of our testers who isn't a fan of this category enjoyed this one.
Nutrition for Athletic Brewing Co. Upside Dawn, per 12-oz. can
45 calories, 12 g carbohydrates, <1 g protein, 0 g fat, <0.5% ABV
Best Stout: Guinness 0
When it came to nonalcoholic stouts, Guinness 0 was the unanimous winner for our testers. The nonalcoholic beer shares many similarities with its alcoholic counterpart, including the signature creamy head (and the widget inside the can to make it taste like it's been poured fresh from the tap). The malt aroma and strong chocolate and coffee flavor profile were also standouts. In fact, despite it being a blind tasting, our testers could recognize the classic brew and said it reminded them of a Guinness. So if you're looking for a nonalcoholic stout, it doesn't get any closer to the real thing than a Guinness 0.
Nutrition for Guinness 0, per 12-oz. serving
60 calories, 13.5 g carbohydrates, 1.1 g protein, 0 g fat, <0.5% ABV
Best Wheat Beer: Weihenstephaner Nonalcoholic Wheat Beer
Weihenstephan's nonalcoholic wheat beer was a clear favorite for our testers. The nonalcoholic beer has a nice golden color and a malty aroma. But the standout characteristic of the beer was its flavor, which had a bit of warm spice that our testers enjoyed. When compared to others in the category, Weihenstephan's nonalcoholic beer "actually tasted like a wheat beer," a sentiment expressed by the majority of our testers.
Nutrition for Weihenstephaner Nonalcoholic Wheat Beer, per 11.2-oz. bottle
50 calories, 8.9 g carbohydrates, 2.6 g protein, 0 g fat, <0.5% ABV
If you're looking for a nonalcoholic beer, Athletic Brewing's Upside Dawn is flavorful and reminiscent of a traditional pale ale. Or, if you're looking for a hop seltzer, Hoplark's 0.0 Citra is cool and refreshing.
To narrow the field, we researched and read the labels of more than 90 products, and selected the ones that fit the following nutrition requirements: ≤250 calories, ≤140 mg sodium, ≤15 g carbohydrates. For the nonalcoholic beers, we looked for a range of varieties, including pale ale and stout. For the hop seltzers, we looked for a range of flavors, including blood orange and lime. For the taste test, a blind tasting was set up with five testers. Each beverage was refrigerated and tested as is directly from the can or bottle. We took notes regarding the taste, appearance and aroma of each product.
When selecting a nonalcoholic beer, there are a few things to consider on a nutrition label: calories, sodium and carbohydrates. For calories and sodium, products had to contain ≤250 calories and ≤140 mg sodium to align with our general nutrition parameters for a drink. For carbohydrates, we set a limit of ≤15 g carbohydrates based on the carbohydrate average found in our research (some nonalcoholic beers contained as much as 28 g carbohydrates). Limiting carbohydrates can help stabilize blood glucose levels. For reference, a typical 1-can serving of alcoholic beer (about 356 g) contains 13 g carbohydrates.
Another thing to consider is the alcohol content. Nonalcoholic beers have minimal amounts of alcohol and must have less than 0.5% ABV to be marketed as nonalcoholic. As such, the products tested had to be less than 0.5% ABV.
Alex Loh is the associate food editor at EatingWell. She is passionate about food and cooking, and has over two years of experience with the brand. She has written more than a dozen product guides and has tested hundreds of products, including salad spinners, protein powders and nonalcoholic spirits. For this article, she consulted with a registered dietitian and nutrition editor at EatingWell, Jessica Ball, M.S., RD, for her insights about nutrition. The testers included registered dietitians and food editors.