How to Brew Non-Alcoholic Beer - Sheep in Wolf's Clothing Brewery
low alcohol beer
Non-alcoholic Beer

How to Brew Non-Alcoholic Beer

In case you haven’t noticed, low- and no-alcohol beers are rising in popularity. Sure there’s Dry January, but non-alcoholic beers increasingly are a part of the craft beer conversation year-round.  

There’s a reason for the skyrocketing growth of non-alcoholic beer - it’s what lots of beer drinkers want! In fact, statistics show that the global non-alcoholic beer market was over 25 billion USD (roughly 18 billion GBP) in 2021. That number is expected to grow to over 46 billion USD by 2025, an increase of 84% in just four years.

Chances are, like us, you've noticed the improvement of non-alcoholic beer options. So now you’re thinking, how do I brew my own?

Why Drink Non-alcoholic Beer?

In another article, we covered the many benefits of drinking non-alcoholic beer. For starters, drinking less lets you cut down on alcohol and cut calories. Both of these help you to reduce risks for all-cause mortality and improve your cardiovascular health.

The healthy component of beer isn’t the alcohol, it’s the anti-oxidative polyphenols (malt and hops), metabolic co-factors (yeast), silicon (malt) and plenty of other compounds. Besides good health, drinking NA beer in place of the full-fat version carries several benefits to your overall well-being such as the following:

  • A reduction in embarrassing moments and nights out e.g. dance moves, drunk dialling (or messaging)
  • Get much better sleep and wake up feeling refreshed, clear-headed and ready to tackle the day. 
  • Be more productive and bank more ‘you’ time for hobbies, interests, and self-learning
  • Can be the default designated driver making sure your mates get home safely

Of course with money to be made the big brewers have entered global markets with their mostly ‘meh’ products. Luckily, independent breweries are also producing progressive, full-flavoured non-alcoholic beers to give us more choices than ever before.

What is a ‘Non-Alcoholic’ Beer?

In our previous ‘How to Brew’ article, we mentioned that the term ‘low-alcohol’ means different things in different parts of the world. Every drinking culture has its own customs and habits.

In the UK, the Department of Health & Social Care recommends the label ‘low-alcohol’ for beers that are no more than 1.2% ABV. For the purposes of this article, let’s just keep it simple and use non-alcoholic to refer to beers with around 1% ABV or lower. 

NA Brewing Methods

Whether you're a beginner, a seasoned vet, or a pro, your existing knowledge and skills will help you brew non-alcoholic beer. Additionally, your palate and understanding of recipe creation will be a good starting point.

However, when it comes to the process, you might need to forget everything you know about brewing! Okay, that’s a bit hyperbolic. You will need to deviate from your normal routine. The first step is to arm yourself with your NA brewing weapon of choice. 

Low Grain Bill/ High Mash Temp

The low grist-high mash temperature approach was made popular by a brewery that shall not be named. This Voldemort Brewing Co. produces a well-known beer that may or may not refer to the government.

With that out of the way, this approach is based on the idea of producing wort with an original gravity (OG) anywhere from between 1.007 and 1.032. Bear in mind that many OGs in this range will produce beer well above 1% ABV under normal brewing conditions. 

We can stop this from happening by starving our lovely yeasties with a very unfermentable wort. This is where the high mash temperature comes in. Normally, when we’re talking ‘high’ we are aiming for a range between 67-71℃. 

How does a higher mash temperature make wort less fermentable? It is a tale of two enzymes: alpha-amylase and beta-amylase. The former is most active between 71-72℃ while the latter is most active between 62-67℃. 

In fact, the further you get past 67℃, the more you begin to denature and inactivate beta-amylase. For the sake of time, let’s just say that beta-amylase contributes more to fermentability while alpha-amylase contributes more to mouthfeel in a beer. 

According to Lallemand, high mash temperatures between 82-86℃ produce the best wort for making low-alcohol beers. 

Image source: Lallemand Brewing

For non-alcoholic beer, some brewers will push the temp between 72-74℃–a mash temp that would induce instant panic in most homebrewers! But you can go much further.

Research from Lallemand has shown that perhaps counterintuitively, pushing your conversion rest to 82C is the sweet spot. At this temperature, you are getting plenty of medium to long-chain sugars (that yeast can’t metabolise) yet still producing starch-negative wort that is haze-free.

Cold Mashing

Now that we’ve entered the outer limits of mash temps,, why don’t we reverse things? Cold mashing, also known as non-enzymatic mashing (NEM), is where you let the mash stand at refrigerated temperatures for 8-24 hours. 

During a cold mash,, a passive extraction of colour, flavour, and other compounds takes place. Starch conversion is minimal at these temps. You will end up with some fermentable sugars, but you will also build a wort full of proteins.

These molecules will enhance head retention and mouthfeel. The downside to cold mashing is that you will likely end up with a beer on the higher end at 1-1.5% ABV.

De-alcoholised/ Boil Off

De-alcoholising is the only way to properly make alcohol-free (0.05% or lower) beer. It also works for any beer recipe or brewing process. That makes it the number one option for commercial brewers. This process is commonly accomplished by one of the following two methods:

GEA AromaPlus Membran Dealcoholization Unit for removing alcohol from beer at a rate of up to 50hl/hr

Image source: GEA

Membrane filtration- similar to reverse osmosis used by professional brewers for creating deionised brewing liquor. The beer is pushed through a filtration system that removes alcohol along with water (due to the formation of azeotropes). Water is re-added to make up for the loss in volume.

This can remove virtually all of the alcohol from a beer. Unfortunately, it also strips away flavour, aroma, and colour. 

Vacuum distillation- the beer is heated in highly specialised equipment under a vacuum. This lets the brewers remove the ethyl alcohol by way of evaporation at a temperature of only 48.9℃. Heating the beer will volatilise and destroy both flavour and aroma. 

As you can imagine, either method requires expensive and technical equipment. For home brewing, we can take inspiration from the second technique. 

You will simply boil off the alcohol. After your beer has finished fermenting, carefully transfer it to your brew pot. Follow best practices for sanitation and use inert gas like CO2 to lower the oxygenation of the beer.

Without the benefit of a vacuum, you will need the liquid to reach a temperature near 173.3℃ (the boiling point of ethyl alcohol). The hob is an option but your best bet is to place the vessel in your oven for more even temperature distribution. 

Aim to hold the beer at 173.3℃ for 30 minutes or longer. The length of holding time depends on the alcohol content of your beer. A general rule of thumb from Ultra Low Brewing is as follows:

Time Held at 173.3C

Residual Alcohol Present

30 min


1 hour


1.5 hours


2 hours 


2.5 hours


For example, if you have a beer that is 2.8% ABV, then 30 minutes will reduce it to 35% of that number or 0.98% ABV. 

This approach is similar to high-temperature short-time (HTST) pasteurisation, also known as flash pasteurisation. This means you can at least relax knowing that all possible spoilage microorganisms have been eliminated before packaging. 

Arrested Fermentation

With this method, you halt the yeast from metabolising the beer. The goal is to let them get started so they produce flavour compounds like esters but stop them from producing very much alcohol. This can be accomplished by using temperature or chemicals to arrest fermentation. You can chill your beer down almost immediately after pitching This will quickly cause the yeast to go dormant. 

Alternatively, you can use Campden tablets (potassium metabisulphite) to inactivate the yeast and stop fermentation. Either way, you will likely have plenty of fermentability and a sweet-tasting ‘worty’ brew. These types of NA beers can be a bit dangerous as they are ripe to become bottle bombs with microorganism spoilage. 

If you keg or bottle the beer, make sure you keep it cold at all times!

How to Brew

For recipe creation and brewhouse processes, producing flavourful NA beer has many similarities to low-alcohol brewing You can head to our previous article for more detailed information. 

With that being said, here are a few additional tips to consider when brewing NA beer. 


Specialty grains are crucial for non-alcoholic beers

Image source: Unsplash

How you approach your grain bill will be affected by which NA brewing method you choose. Arrested fermentation or de-alcoholisation allows you to try things out with your classic brewing recipes. 

We recommend the low grain bill/ high mash method. The key here is to scale down the base malt while raising the percentages of speciality grains. Also consider using more flavourful and well-modified base malts like Maris Otter, Vienna, and Munich.


Lower alcohol beers just don’t play well with hop bitterness. When scaling down a full-fat recipe, you will want to half the amount of hops and move all additions to the end of the boil or the whirlpool.

Keep in mind that any dry hopping will also impart bitterness to a beer with a relatively fragile backbone. Use your brewing calculator of choice to keep an eye on your bitterness-to-gravity ratio (BU:GU) and aim for a number of 1 or lower. 


It’s all about enhancing body when it comes to water treatment for non-alcoholic beers. This means ditching the gypsum and boosting your chlorides with something like calcium chloride, aim for at least 50 ppm (if you have a way to calculate or measure water chemistry).

A pro tip is to be meticulous about your mash pH. Sure, we’ve all used those lovely strips of paper that change colour on a whim (is my mash really 7.0?). These can be extremely unreliable. Instead, get a cheap aquarium pH meter for better precision and accuracy.

Aim for a pH of 5.1-5.4 and adjust your sparge water to maintain these levels during runoff. Any tannin extraction will cut through and ruin your non-alcoholic brew attempt. 


We always say that yeast is the heart of brewing. Well, that universal truth doesn’t change when entering the non-alcoholic universe. Always consider using flavour-forward yeasts that will contribute to the vision you have for your beer. Obviously, this works much easier with wheat beers and NEIPAs than say pale lagers and West Coast IPAs. 

Another pro tip, use yeasts that are unable to ferment maltotriose and/or maltose and are lower attenuators.  Some examples of yeast strains readily available to home brewers are shown below.





Fermentis S33




Fermentis LA-01




Lallemand London




Lallemand Windsor




Whitelabs WLP4650




Whitelabs WLP686




With these yeasts, you will be less likely to overshoot your ABV goal. 

Start Brewing Some Non-Alcoholic Beer

We’re proud to be a small part of the progressive movement towards drinking less alcohol. Whether it be sessionable 2.8% ABV beers or non-alcoholic beers, we’ve got you covered with a range of core and seasonal offerings. 

Now it’s time for you to join our ranks and brew your own NA beers. If you are lacking inspiration, don’t worry we’ve got you covered. Head to our online can shop where we have plenty of award-winning no & low beer for you to sample while mapping out your recipes and brewing processes. 

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