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Is non alcoholic beer halal?
As you might imagine, this can be a complex topic with many variations across the world.
The Prophet Muhammad says in the Quran “Every intoxicant is Khamr and every intoxicant is forbidden. He who drinks wine in this world and dies while he is addicted to it, not having repented, will not be given a drink in the Hereafter.”
One of the arguments in Islamic law is only grape juice and wine Haram or all alcohols. Khamr is the Arabic word for wine and intoxication.
A minority would argue that only wine is Haram due to this word. Indeed some majority Muslim countries produce spirits like aarack. Egypt produces wine.
The conservative thinking is amount of an intoxicating liquid is banned, even a mouthful. Where there may be differing practice is if an alcohol is <0.5% ABV and labelled as “non alcoholic”, can this be Halal?
You cant get drunk drinking this strength of alcohol (as ive shown here) but there is still alcohol in the liquid. I know Muslim friends of mine who are happy that this is non alcoholic and that they can drink it.
The stricter approach, and the approach taken for Halal Certification is to only drink a liquid if it is “alcohol free” with an ABV of <0.05%.
For comparison, orange juice would have 0.5% ABV and vinegar 0.2% ABV. All the Halal Certified alcohol free products have and ABV <0.05% and will be labelled as 0.0% ABV.
|ABV %||Likelihood of being considered Halal|
|<1.2% – Low alcohol||Very unlikely to be considered Halal|
|<0.5% – Non alcoholic||Possibly can be considered Halal|
|0.0% – Alcohol free||Can be considered Halal|
|0.0% – Halal Certified||Should be considered Halal|
There is a further consideration from the Quran, is that if you are drinking a non alcoholic equivalent of an alcoholic drink, with others who are drinking alcohol, mimicking them, then this could possibly be considered Haram.
Although that takes the context of the drink a step further. If you are just in your own home with your own family drinking a 0.0% alcoholic drink then this wouldn’t be haram for the purposes of mimicking.
If there is no halal certification should you be able to take comfort that law states alcohol free and 0.0% ABV means just that and this will be inspected and tested independently?
The law allows 0.5% ABV variance in the UK. So a 0.5% beer could be 1%. Could a 0.05% beer be 0.55%? I think it’s very unlikely with modern brewing and computer techniques and all the 0.0% advertising the big companies are doing.
Non alcoholic beer definitions
|Description on label||Maximum ABV content|
There are various beer descriptions that you may see and these correspond to differing alcohol by volume content. Low alcohol beer has an alcohol by content percentage of 1.2% ABV or below.
Dealcoholised beer is beer that has went through the fermentation process and then had the alcohol extracted either by vacuum distillation or filtration.
Dealcoholised beer must not contain more than 0.5% ABV. The term alcohol free beer can only be used for a beer where the alcohol has been extracted, as with the dealcoholised beer, but with a remaining ABV of not more than 0.05%.
This would mean it can display 0.0% ABV on the label or state it contains no alcohol. “Non alcoholic beer” however is used in common parlance to describe both dealcoholised and alcohol free beer.
The FDA state “To ensure that consumers are not misled as to the alcohol content of the product, the statement of identity should be followed by the declaration, “contains less than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume.”
FDA considers use of the terms “dealcoholized” and “alcohol-removed” in the statement of identity of a reduced alcohol wine product to be misleading if the alcohol content exceeds 0.5 percent by volume (…)
FDA does not consider the terms “non-alcoholic” and “alcohol-free” to be synonymous. The term “alcohol-free” may be used only when the product contains no detectable alcohol.”
So both USA and UK both state the only terms acceptable for a “beer” containing no alcohol and at 0.0% ABV is alcohol free. All other terms may have up to 0.5% ABV and therefore not be Halal. EU law however may allow alcohol free beers to have up to 0.5% ABV.
When is alcohol free not alcohol free
As stated above, in UK law, alcohol free should = ABV <0.05%
Alcohol and Islam
Heineken Zero Contraversy
They stated “All Heineken 0.0 products are only available at the non-halal zone of supermarkets and convenience stores, with clear signage indicating that the product is strictly for non-Muslims, aged 21 and above only”.
In response Heineken issued a press release “The purpose for introducing Heineken 0.0 in Malaysia is to provide a choice for non-Muslim consumers who enjoy the taste of beer, but not necessarily the effects of alcohol, particularly beer drinkers who seek to moderate their alcohol consumption as part of a balanced lifestyle”
How is alcohol free beer made
Alcohol free beer with various techniques. It can be diluted and re-carbonated however this will dilute the flavour. It can be vacuum distilled or filtered as with wine. This is currently the most popular method and keeps as much of the original flavour as possible.
Buyer beware as they say. From my research it seems 0.0% alcohol free beer can be considered Halal but if you are in any way in doubt then you should follow your normal processes and discuss it with your local religious leader. The Heineken Zero issues from 2019 in Malaysia show the whole Islamic community may not think the same about alcohol free beer.
For a full article of 12 non alcoholic beer benefits then click here to read