liter of beer produced in Germany is alcohol-free. This tastes particularly good to health-conscious consumers during sports and leisure activities – and now new flavors are being added.
15 years ago, many of Josef Rayes' guests turned up their noses at the idea of alcohol-free beer. "Then it was still: I drink a real beer or nothing at all," says the restaurateur, who runs a 900-seat beer garden in Cologne, among other things. Non-alcoholic varieties now account for 15 percent of its beer sales. The 65-year-old cites two main reasons for his customers' thirst for the non-alcoholic version of the popular hop cold brew: the quality of the beverages has improved and people's health awareness has grown.
More on the topic
Non-alcoholic beer with vitamins: Breweries focus on innovations
Ten myths and truths about beer
German brewers are the world leaders in non-alcoholic beers
Alcohol-free beer is also becoming increasingly popular throughout Germany. In 2018, German breweries produced a good 6 million hectoliters, compared with around 2.8 million in 2008. According to the German Brewers Association, non-alcoholic beer now accounts for seven percent of total beer sales. In the future, it would be ten percent, according to the forecast of the Brewers Association.
Especially in the heatwave summer of 2018, the car-friendly hop beverage was a thirst-quencher in high demand: "Last year, the segment grew by almost 13 percent compared to the previous year," says Marc-Oliver Huhnholz, spokesman for the brewers' association. In the meantime, every 15. Liter of beer produced in Germany, alcohol-free. "This makes Germany's brewers world leaders in the production of non-alcoholic beers."
Athletes and women in particular have discovered the drink for themselves
Huhnholz also cites changed lifestyles as an important reason for the change in image. People have not only become more body-conscious and mobile, there are also more alcohol bans in the workplace. In addition, more and more women and athletes have discovered the drink – customers who used to avoid conventional beer. Stephan Luck, a food technologist and nutritionist, can understand this approval. Alcohol-free beer has many positive properties. One of them: "It is an isotonic drink and has the ability to rebalance the water balance after exercise."
Healthy thirst quencher: it has a positive effect on blood formation and the cardiovascular system
In addition, Luck emphasizes the high vitamin B-12 content provided by the yeast. Normally, this vitamin is only found in animal foods and is important for blood formation. Hops, in turn, have a digestive effect. And because of its low alcohol and sugar content, non-alcoholic beer has fewer calories than soft drinks, for example, he said. According to the brewers' association, it averages 26 calories per 100 milliliters. A lemonade, on the other hand, has an average of 42 calories – the same as an alcoholic Pilsner.
"It also adds a certain amount of minerals," says Luck. Some magnesium, for example, but above all potassium, which is helpful for regulating blood prere, among other things. Polyphenols, which are classified as secondary plant compounds, also have good properties. "They can have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system and support the immune system to some extent," says Luck. Gout patients, on the other hand, should avoid non-alcoholic beer because of the purine content.
However, Uwe Knop, nutritionist and author, advises against being guided by individual ingredients when choosing a drink. The personal gut feeling is more important. His tip: "After sports, drink what tastes best to you and what makes you feel best."After all, yeast or carbon dioxide in non-alcoholic beer would not get everyone equally well. But obviously many people can tolerate non-alcoholic beer – otherwise it wouldn't be so successful.
New flavors for summer
Whether Pilsner, wheat beer, Kolsch or Alt – there is now a non-alcoholic variant of all types of beer. They are joined by countless mixed drinks. According to association man Marc-Oliver Huhnholz, around 400 German breweries have at least one non-alcoholic brand in their range – and more are being added all the time. For example, a non-alcoholic version of India Pale Ale has recently hit the shelves. This is an aromatic variety from England, which in its conventional brewing method not only has a higher hop content, but also a higher alcohol content than normal beer.
"With Pale Ale, you add hops again after the brewing process," says Huhnholz. Depending on the type of hops, this "craft beer" tastes sometimes like orange, sometimes like lychee, or like grapefruit. This also applies to the non-alcoholic version – a very fruity, aromatic type of beer, he adds.
And beer expert Huhnholz reveals one more thing: There are two ways to drive the alcohol out of beer. The first possibility is to prematurely stop fermentation, in which malt sugar is converted into alcohol by the yeast. The second way: Alcohol is subsequently removed from the beer by filtration. However, there is one thing you should know about beer with the "alcohol-free" label: It may still contain up to 0.5 percent alcohol.