Food Safety and Brewing NA Beer

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Mash tun lautering into a boil kettle

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2024 issue of Zymurgy Magazine

By Meagen Anderson and Katie Nasiatka

Non-alcohol (NA) beer is a fast-growing segment in the beer scene. NA beer has become popular for having the novelty of enjoying an “alcoholic” beverage without the booze. People who live life sober are now able to enjoy an NA beverage at social outings to a pub or taproom with friends and family. While many mainstream breweries are starting to create their own non-alcohol and alcohol-free offerings, homebrewers and small independent craft beverage makers are also trying their hand crafting NA beer.

As homebrewers, we can of course refer to our homebrewed NA beverages as “beer,” but whether they are made by an amateur or professional brewer, these brews are really closer to food products than the hopped, ~5% ABV, low-pH, and therefore generally recognized as safe beverages we’ve come to know as beer. For label compliance, the U.S. Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) does not allow commercial brewers producing and packaging “non-alcohol” (<0.5% ABV) or “alcohol-free” (0.0% ABV) beverages to refer to them as “beer.” According to the Brewers Association, the “terms ‘malt beverage,’ ‘cereal beverage,’ and ‘near beer’ are acceptable class designations under 27 CFR 7.24(d). ‘Brew’ is an acceptable descriptor, however it is not a valid class designation.” See the sidebar [in the magazine] on Beer Safety from the Brewers Association Quality Subcommittee for more on the inherent safety nets that keep beer safe to drink.

From choosing the right production method to sourcing quality ingredients, creating a satisfying NA beer can be difficult.

Access the full article in the March/April 2024 Zymurgy magazine.

This article includes the following:

  • Risks of non-alcohol beer production
  • Food safety processes to apply when making NA beer
  • Alcohol-free vs. non-alcohol beer
  • Salt and acid applications during the brew
  • Sanitizing and packaging best practices
  • Food safety basics (thermal processing, hops iso-alpha acids, acidification, ethanol, low oxygen concentration)
  • Pasteurization basics
  • Storage and serving

Looking for low- and no-alcohol beer recipes? Check out the article “Living the Non-Alcohol Dream,” which was also featured in the March/April 2024 Zymurgy magazine.

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