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Non-Alcoholic Beer: The Best Brews From Germany

Ah, Guten Tag! Today we’re chatting about our favourite German non-alcoholic beers. Germans really do beers the best, their history is rich with different types of beer recipes, hello Oktoberfest!
Young lady drinking beer at a festival

So, why is Germany renowned as being one of the best beer brewing nations in the world? Well, that, my friends, is due to Germany’s 16th century Purity Law (we’ll cover this a little further down).

Moving away from Germany’s alcohol-based beer history, suffice to say, non-alcoholic beer consumption has only increased over the past few decades since it was first introduced to the German public.

Clausthaler were pioneers in the German non-alcoholic beer industry. Since the creation of their Clausthaler Original in 1979, they’ve paved the way for other alcohol-free beer crafters to make a splash in the lives of “off the wagon” beer drinkers worldwide. 

Friends drinking alcohol-free beer together

What is the Purity Law for German beer?

Before we give you a taste of our favourite non-alcoholic German beers, it’s important to enlighten ourselves as to why German beers are so damn well delicious in the first place. This can be attributed to the German Beer Purity Law, or the “Reinheitsgebot”, instigated waaaaaayyy back in 1516. That’s over 500 years ago. Well, you know how the old and quite possibly incorrect Google translated German proverb goes:

“Wenn es nicht kaputt ist, reparieren Sie es nicht.”

(“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”).

The Purity Law was introduced by Bavaria’s Duke Wilhelm IV. Basically, it stated that beer must only contain 3 key ingredients: hops, water and barley. This meant that beer brewers all across the nation had to remove 2 commonly used ingredients from their recipes: wheat and rye (and any other nasties they may have been mixing in there). 

The law was introduced to serve 2 main purposes:

1. To protect beer enthusiasts from potential brew-induced demise.

It’s a good reason to enforce a law, to be honest. You see, back in the 1500s, beer was one of the most common beverages as water supplies were often polluted due to overcrowding. As is customary in “ye olde tales” there were a select few cunning brewers who decided to take advantage of everyone’s love for and reliance on the amber liquid.

They would add dubious ingredients to their beer, such as hallucinogenic plants, wood shavings, soot and other potentially deadly bits and pieces. In doing so, they were able to change the flavour of the beer and claim a superior recipe had been used, in order to add a hefty price increase to their drops.

The fact that a lot of their patrons weren’t coming back for a second round should’ve been an indicator to lay off the weird and wacky additions. But, like any good scoundrel, they refused. And so, the complaints came in, the government listened and the first steps towards enacting the Purity Law was taken.

It’s also important to note that in keeping to the law, German beer must not contain any preservatives, resulting in a somewhat healthier brew than its counterparts across the globe.

2. To avoid a wheat shortage in a nation that relied heavily on the production of bread. 

In medieval Germany, bread production was a major facet of society. Germans relied heavily upon the production of bread to make a living and to ensure their economy didn’t fall into ruin. As wheat was a main ingredient of beer, and beer was produced in abundance, something had to give. Thus, wheat was not included in the ingredients available to brewers in accordance with the Purity Law. Bread makers cheered. Beer crafters jeered. Such was the way in 1516.

As time moved on, the Purity Law stayed in place and beer enthusiasts came up with ways to brew new, tasty beers. Prohibition led to innovation and innovation led to Germany becoming known as the “beer capital” of the world.

Over the years, the law has been relaxed slightly to include a few simple additions like coriander, yeast, bay leaf and wheat. Many think the law should be abolished entirely and allow room for modern craft beer brewers to set up shop in Germany. What are your thoughts? 

The Best German Non-Alcoholic Beer Brewers

And now, to the main attraction, our alcohol-free German beers that simply must be tasted by bierernst (“beer serious”) aficionados everywhere!

1. Clausthaler

When it comes to German non-alcoholic beer, Clausthaler brew some of the best. We suggest starting off with the Clausthaler Original. It is a Pilsner type lager with all the best bits of a traditional German brewed beer. To produce their non-alcoholic range, Clausthaler implements their own specialised brewing technique where the fermentation process is stopped before the yeast has time to ferment. This is how they differ from their competition.

For a slightly different taste, you can turn to the Clausthaler Unfiltered, which is their take on a dry-hopped lager. This brew is rich with crisp, bitter notes and a tad of sweet malt. Its golden colour is indistinguishable from its alcoholic counterpart. 

2. Erdinger

Erdinger’s Alcohol-Free Wheat Beer is super popular in Germany with athletes. Sports players drink it to boost recovery and energy, as we would a Gatorade. Ironically enough, its also popular among breastfeeding women as it is rich in antioxidants, Folic Acid and Vitamins b12. It’s the one-stop-drop for beer lovers of all types and a must-try alcohol-free beverage!

3. Kehrwieder

Kehrwieder brewery produces delicious beer made using a combination of Simcoe and Mosaic hops. With beer that provides hints of woody flavours, mandarin and lime, this is one of Germany’s finest breweries. Their latest alcohol-free brew; The Roadrunner Coffee Stout makes our list for good reason! It’s the perfect blend of coffee and beer to suit the taste buds of those who don’t mind a good old cup o’ Joe or a beautifully brewed non-alcoholic beer. The coffee beans infused with this beer are sourced from local farmers and roasted to perfection in Hamburg.

With over 10.54million Germans aged 14 years or older indulging in alcohol-free beer in 2019, drinking non-boozy brews is definitely on the rise!

In the iconic words of the von Trapps; So long, farewell, Auf Weidersehen, goodbye!

Visit our website to see all our best non-alcoholic German beers and more! 

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