One of the most popular “non alcoholic” beers is O’Doul’s. But just how little alcohol does it have, or is it actually none?
The whole concept of a beer not having alcohol is difficult so this article will explore just how much alcohol there is and answer the question… Does O’Doul’s have any alcohol?
Does O’Doul’s have any alcohol?
An O’Doul’s has less than 0.5% alcohol by volume and they state it has 0.4% alcohol by volume. This means it does have some alcohol but only about the same amount as an orange juice. Another way to look at it is it would take 12.5 O’Doul’s to equal a regular 5% beer.
The concept of non alcoholic beers actually having some alcohol can be strange to some but when you look at how much it actually is, it is easier to understand its “non alcoholic” labelling.
Do non alcoholic drinks contain alcohol?
As my website is primarily about non alcoholic drinks it is worth considering if non alcoholic drinks contain alcohol and if so, how much?
You will see lots of labels under the “non alcoholic” umbrella. This is a summary of them…
|Term on label||Maximum ABV%||Notes|
|Alcohol free||0.05-0.5%||In some countries this means 0.0%, in others, up to 0.5%|
|Dealcoholised||0.5%||Usually applies to wine and has an ABV of up to 0.5%|
|Non alcoholic||0.5%||Umbrella term but can be up to 0.5%|
|No alcohol||0.5%||A pretty vague term but can have up to 0.5%|
|Low alcohol||1.2%||Up to 1.2% allowed by law|
So a “non alcoholic” drink can have anything from 0.0% to 0.5% ABV. This can be important if you not allowed to drink alcohol for religious or medical reasons although 0.5% is still basically nothing.
Is there a difference between alcohol free beer and non alcoholic beer?
There are many differences between non alcoholic and alcohol free beer, i explore a lot of the brewing and PR differences here. However, the chief difference is in how much alcohol they contain.
Unfortunately the labels on “non alcoholic beer” can be confusing.
“Non alcoholic beer” is used as a generic term for all 0.0-0.5% ABV beers but it should be specifically applied to beers with an ABV 0.05-0.5%. Alcohol free ciders therefore have an ABV of <0.05%. In many countries the labelling laws state this must be the case but not in all jurisdictions, like the EU for example.
For a full overview of the labelling of non alcoholic and alcohol free beers, you can read my dedicated article on it here.
What is a standard beer?
Beers come in lots of different shapes, sizes and strengths. There is no point in me saying “standard beer” and you imagining some 14% Imperial Stout when i mean a 5% Pilsner.
Luckily for everyone, the USDA have devised a list of “standard” alcoholic drinks. Each one contains the exact same amount of alcohol – 14g of alcohol (0.6 ounces).
Below is a list of the standard drinks, volumes and ABV that all give 14g of alcohol.
|Drink and volume||Alcohol content|
|12fl oz Beer||5%|
|5fl oz Wine||12%|
|1.5fl oz Spirit||40%|
So as you can see, a standard beer is a 12fl oz and 5% alcohol by volume beer.
How many O’Doul’s equals one beer?
The USDA describe a standard beer as having 5% alcohol by volume. If we compare this to a standard non alcoholic beer of 0.5% alcohol by volume, you would need 10 non alcoholic beers to equal one alcoholic beer.
To work out how many O’Doul’s equals one standard beer we have to divide the ABV of a beer by that of O’Doul’s.
That means 5/0.4 = 12.5
You would need to drink 12.5 O’Doul’s to equal one beer.
Full information is in this post
How many O’Doul’s to get drunk?
The CDC average 160lb adult male needs to drink x4 12fl oz cans of 5% ABV beer to get drunk. x12.5 0.4% O’Doul’s equals one standard 5% beer so you would need to drink x50 O’Doul’s to get drunk. These would have to be drank over a 1-2 hr period as your body is constantly metabolising the alcohol.
Full article with numbers can be read here
How much alcohol is in common foods?
A standard alcoholic beer (drawing parallel to the USDA standard beer) has 5% ABV whereas a non alcoholic beer has not more than 0.5%. You can easily see one has far less than to other but it would also be easy to assume that 0.5% is still more than in everything else you eat and drink so still relatively high in alcohol.
The surprising truth is, many foods and drinks contain alcohol as a by product of fermentation and in similar if not higher concentrations to even non alcoholic cider!
Below is a selected list of just some fermented foods with surprising amounts of alcohol.
|Food or Drink||Alcohol by volume content %|
|Non alcoholic beer||<0.5%|
When you do this comparison, you can see just how little alcohol 0.0% ABV represents. It is the same alcohol content as fruit juice and you would never have considered them alcoholic.
You can read more about the surprising hidden alcohol in your foods and drinks here
Does O’Doul’s have any alcohol?
So to round up…
Yes O’Doul’s does have alcohol in it, around 0.4% alcohol by volume. This equates to 1.12g of pure alcohol and you would need to drink 12.5 of them to equal on standard alcoholic beer.
The tiny amount of alcohol is about the same as in a fruit juice and to actually get drunk drinking O’Doul’s, you would need to drink 50 of them in about an hour!
So all in all, there is not a lot of alcohol in it and it is classed as non alcoholic by the government.