Are 0.5% Or 0.0% Beers Lower In Calories? The data explained.


Whether you are new to the world of non alcoholic beers or an old hand, you will have noticed that there are two distinct categories. 0.0% beers, usually called alcohol free and less than 0.5% beers, usually called non alcoholic.

But are 0.5% 0r 0.0% beers lower in calories? And if there is a difference, why?

Are 0.5% Or 0.0% Beers Lower In Calories?

Does Non Alcoholic Beer Taste The S...
Does Non Alcoholic Beer Taste The Same

On average, beers classified as non alcoholic, with an ABV of <0.5%, have a lower average calorie count than alcohol free beers, with an ABV of less than 0.0%. The difference is due to how they are brewed and which type of brewery makes these types of non alcoholic beers.

I have a data set of well over 100 non alcoholic beers which i have personally reviewed. You can see an index of the reviews with rankings on my “best non alcoholic beers” page. I have also crunched all the numbers relating to calories on my article “are non alcoholic beers lower in calories” i found there was indeed a difference in calories in 0.0% and <0.5% beers.

What are the numbers?

From my data set, i found…

Alcohol free, 0.0% beers, had on average 23.1kcal per 100ml and 82.2kcal per 12fl oz serving

Non alcoholic, <0.5% beers, had on average 21.5kcal per 100ml and 76.2kcal per 12fl oz serving.

Type of Beerkcal per 100mlkcal per 12fl oz
0.0%23.182.2
<0.5%21.576.2
Calories in 0.0% and <0.5% beers

This might not see like a big difference but it works out at about a 7% calorie saving per beer which is still significant.

If you remove the outlier of the <0.5% group, Henry And His Science, that would increase to about 11%.

If you would like to read more about the lowest calorie or the highest calorie non alcoholic beers in the world you can follow the links.

Why are alcohol free beers (0.0%) higher in calories than non alcoholic beers (0.5%)?

Ok, so there is a reasonable difference in calories between the average 0.0% and <0.5% beer. But shy should that be the case? And you would like that little tiny bit of extra alcohol should add to the calorie count not make it lower.

The difference comes down to how they are made in the first place.

How are 0.0% beers made?

These type of alcohol free, 0.0% beers, are made from full alcoholic beer which then have the alcohol removed. It can generally be done in 1 on 3 ways…

Spinning cone column

This is probably the most efficient but costly method and used mainly to create alcohol free wine. Using a vacuum and steam, the very delicate aromatic compounds are filtered out then regathered. Compared to other methods, it is more gentle and more flavour is retained.

Vacuum distillation

If you heat a beer to evaporate off the alcohol you need to get it to 173.1°F. At such a high temperature you will begin to damage the aromatic compounds that create flavour.

To avoid this damage, you can heat the brew in a vacuum. The boiling point of alcohol is then reduced to 93.2°F. This lower temperature enables you to keep more flavour.

Reverse osmosis, cold filtration

Another way is reverse osmosis with high pressures used instead of the high heat. The beer is forced up against a fine membrane that filters the alcohol, water and flavour compounds

Distillation can then be used to separate the alcohol. Lastly, they bring back the remaining water with the aromatic components. As there is less water than the water/alcohol mix, they usually have to add more water to get it back in balance.

How are <0.5% beers made?

These type of non alcoholic beers are brewed completely differently from start to finish. The aim to reduce to nearly zero the amount of alcohol produced at all instead of trying to remove it al the end. This process is called limited fermentation.

Limited fermentation

The first way to limit fermentation is by having less sugar available to be turned into alcohol in the first place. Using grains like rice or maize which naturally contain less sugar can achieve this.

You can also remove sugar from the beer precursor, wort, before it is fermented. Sugars that do not ferment such as lactose or fructose can be added to retain sweetness.

Some brewers can use a process called “arrested fermentation”. The yeasts are inactivated before they can start producing more than trace amounts of alcohol. It is achieved by rapidly cooling the fermenting beer to about zero, which basically puts the yeast to sleep

The other way to reduce alcohol is to use a specialised yeast which produces little to no alcohol. These yeasts can still have a positive effect on the flavour of the beer but produce little alcohol.

Why are some beers 0.5% and others 0.0% anyway?

Well, to be honest, it comes down to cost and PR.

The methods of removing alcohol are expensive and only begin to pay for themselves with a lot of volume, more than most craft breweries will produce. It is more cost effective for a craft brewer to start from scratch and produce a 0.5% beer than make a 5% one and remove the alcohol.

The other consideration is PR. Basically all the 0.0% alcohol free beers are from the big hitters and brewers. They are making a 0.0% version of one of their own beers. They want to sell it as tasting the same and also keeping up with all the other big brands who are making 0.0% beers.

Table of 0.0% vs <0.5% beer calories

Below is the full table of my data set split into 0.0% beers and less than 0.5% non alcoholic beers, looking at their calories.

There are much more <0.5% beers as only the big beer brands make 0.0% beers but all the craft breweries, which are legion, make the <0.5% ones.

BeerScore/10TypeABVkcal/100mlkcal/12fl ozBeerScore/10TypeABVkcal/100mlkcal/12fl oz
Furstenberg Pils 0.0%7Pilsner01139.05UNLTD.9IPA0.005414.2
Doom Bar Zero8Ale01346.15Nanny State9Ale0.005621.3
Carlsberg 0.08.5Pilsner01449.7Drop Bear Tropical IPA5.5IPA0.0056.523.075
Becks Blue8Pilsner01449.7Drop Bear Yuzu Pale Ale6.5Pale Ale0.005828.4
Budweiser Zero5.5Lager01449.7Nirvanan Hoppy Pale Ale6.5Pale Ale0.005931.95
Guinness 0.09Stout01656.8Infinite Session IPA9IPA0.0051035.5
Fruh5.5Kolsch01656.8Minus9IPA0.0051035.5
Corona Cero7Lager01760.35Infinite Session Lager8.5Helles Lager0.0051035.5
Stella Artois Alcohol Free7.5Lager01863.9NEIPA The Cosmic Turtle8NEIPA0.0051035.5
Free Star4.5Lager01967.45Lost AF8Lager0.0051035.5
Ambar5Pilsner01967.45Flensburger7.5Radler0.0051035.5
Birra Moretti Zero6.5Lager02071Infinite Session Best7Best Bitter0.0051035.5
A Ship Full Of IPA8IPA02071Are Wheat There Yet5.5Wheat0.0051035.5
Nirvana Stout7.5Stout02071Infinite Session Pale8.5America Pale Ale0.0051139.05
Free Damm7Lager02071Coba Maya8.5Lager0.0051139.05
Estrella Galicia7.5Pilsner02174.55Uptime6.5Lager0.00511.841.89
Heineken 0.06Lager02174.55Fieldhopper6Golden Ale0.00512.444.02
Bitburger 0.0%9Pilsner02278.1Southwold Pale Ale5.5Pale Ale0.0051346.15
Peroni Libera6.5Lager02278.1Upside Dawn7Golden Ale0.0051449.7
Perlenbacher 0.03Lager02381.65Drop Bear New World Lager4India Pale Lager0.0051449.7
Paulaner Weissbeir 0.09Wheat02485.2Punk AF 5.5IPA0.0051553.25
San Miguel 0.07.5Pilsner02485.2Budvar Nealko7.5Lager0.00515.555.025
Cobra Zero4.5Lager02485.2Drink’in in the sun 8Wheat0.0031656.8
Bavaria 0.02.5Lager02485.2Pica Nova7West Coast IPA0.0031656.8
St Peters Without8.5Ale02692.3Lucky Saint 0.5%8.5Lager0.0051656.8
Veltins Pils 0.0%7Pilsner02692.3Wildtrack5.5APA0.0051656.8
Lust For Life6DDH IPA033117.15Double Strike4Sour0.0051656.8
Brulo Dry Hopped Stout5.5Stout033117.15Drop Bear Bonfire Stout7.5Stout0.0051760.35
Coast Hazy IPA4IPA033117.15Rothaus Tannenzäpfle 0.4%9Pilsner0.0041863.9
Coast Idaho 74IPA033117.15Pine Trail8.5Pale Ale0.00518.565.675
Brulo Sabro Galaxy3.5DDH IPA033117.15Paradiso5.5Citra IPA0.00518.565.675
Brulo 5 Fruit Gose6.5Gose037131.35Run Wild9IPA0.0051967.45
Brulo Mango Guava4.5IPA037131.35Nirvana Porter4.5Porter0.0052071
Leffe Blond 0.07.5Belgian Abbey Ale040142Sam's Brown Ale6.5Brown Ale0.0042174.55
Average23.14705882352982.172058823529Kloster andechs Weissbeir 0.5%4.5Wheat0.0052174.55
Henry Gose Lightly2Gose0.0032278.1
No Worries Pineapple8Fruit IPA0.0052278.1
Woodcutter7Brown Ale0.0052278.1
Grainwave6.5Belgian White0.0052278.1
No Worries6.5IPA0.0052278.1
Old Speckled Hen Low alcohol6.5Ale0.0052278.1
No Worries Grapefruit5Fruit IPA0.0052278.1
Schneider Weisse Tap39.5Wheat0.0052381.65
Super Bock7Lager0.0052381.65
Ghost Ship 0.5%6.5Pale Ale0.0052381.65
Zunft Kolsch 0.5%6Kolsch0.0052381.65
Lidl IPA5Pale Ale0.0052381.65
Lazer Crush7.5IPA0.0032588.75
Maisel's Weisse9Wheat0.0052588.75
Erdinger Grapefruit8.5Fruit0.0052588.75
Erdinger Lemon8.5Fruit0.0052588.75
Venture point five 0.5%8Ale0.0052588.75
Erdinger Alkoholfrei8Wheat0.0052588.75
All Out6.5Porter0.0052588.75
Clausthaler Unfiltered Dry Hopped8Lager0.0042692.3
Off-Piste Hazelnut Porter8.5Porter0.0052692.3
Clausthaler Original6Lager0.0052692.3
Limbo Series Yuzu5Fruit0.0032795.85
Galactic milk stout 0.5%8.5Stout0.0052795.85
Indiewave9.5IPA0.0052899.4
Krombacher Weizen 0.5%9Wheat0.0052899.4
Special Effects8Lager0.00429102.95
Clausthaler Grapefruit6.5Shandy0.00529102.95
No Worries Mango6Fruit IPA0.00529102.95
No Worries Lemon4.5Fruit IPA0.00529102.95
Lola9Coffee Porter0.003432113.6
Le Chauffeur9IPA0.003432113.6
Incel "Skippers"9Pilsner0.00532113.6
Incel "Surfers"9Summer Ale0.00532113.6
Incel Swimmers7Saison Ale0.00532113.6
Incel Snorkelers5Salt IPA0.00532113.6
Esmeralda4Cerveza with Tequila0.00532113.6
Limbo Series Raspberry6Fruit0.00334120.7
Baltika lager 0.5%7.5Lager0.00535124.25
Shallow Passion Pool4Fruit Gose0.00238134.9
Henry And His Science3.5Ale0.00389315.95
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philmcclelland

Hi im Phil. Im the sole writer on this site. For more info look at my about page https://www.openingthebottle.com/about-us/

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