Is Heineken 0.0 Really Alcohol Free?

Heineken 0.0 i bought and drank for this article

Heineken is a huge global brand. It is sold all over the world and is one of the biggest beer companies out there. Their Heineken 0.0 is incredibly popular but the question that many people who are new to the non alcohol and alcohol free market are asking is “Is Heineken 0.0 really alcohol free?”

Heineken 0.0 is really alcohol free. It has less than 0.05% ABV which is the legal definition of alcohol free in the UK and USA. However not all beers you buy that are labelled as alcohol free will be <0.05%, some can have up to 0.5% ABV if made in the EU

Although there are some important points to be teased out and expanded upon.

Is Heineken 0.0 really alcohol free?

Yes Heineken 0.0 is really alcohol free. This is according to the legal definition of “alcohol free” which allows up to 0.05% alcohol by volume.

Now i know many of you will be saying that 0.05% is not completely zero. Whilst that is strictly true, that trace amount of alcohol has no effect on the body and is immediately metabolised.

For some comparison to see just how alcohol free Heineken 0.0% is, we can look at the alcohol in some food and see if you would consider them alcoholic or worry about the alcohol in them….

Type of foodHighest alcohol content (ABV) in percent %
Heineken 0.00.05%
Non alcoholic drink0.5%
Grape juice (red)0.86%
Apple juice0.66%
Orange juice0.73%
White wine vinegar2.64%
Wheat roll0.14%
Burger roll1.28%
Rye Bread0.2%
Sweet milk rolls1.21%
Ripe Banana0.4%
Ripe Pear0.04%
Alcohol content of food

You are unlikely to worry about getting drunk on ripe bananas at x8 the alcohol content of Heineken 0.0 or think you might not be able to drive after a bit of banana on rye bread!

For a full review of how much alcohol is in common food and exactly why it is there, then have a read at my article on it here

How to tell how much alcohol an alcohol free beer has?

You have to be careful if you just read “alcohol free” and assume that means <0.05% ABV every time. Heineken 0.0 is labelled as alcohol free but if it was just “Heineken Alcohol Free” with no mention of the ABV and made in the EU, there would have been a decent chance of it having up to 0.5% ABV.

In the table below is what the maximum ABV that an “alcohol free” drink can contain in jurisdictions across the world. You will see the EU is a bit of an outlier and as i live in the UK with lots of EU imports, it can be tricky.

JurisdictionWhat the maximum ABV % can be for “alcohol free”
Alcohol free meaning around the world
Brewdog nanny state i have previous bought and drank
Nanny State “alcohol free” 0.5%ABV

The above picture is BrewDog Nanny State. A UK beer that due to EU rules is called alcohol free when it contains up to 0.5% ABV.

The answer to work out if your alcohol free beer really has 0.0% ABV is to look for that ABV information as well as the alcohol free labelling.

In general you will find the ABV on the bottle as well as whatever they have called the beer. This is the most accurate piece of the puzzle so i would recommend this approach as best practice.

There will be other descriptors on beer bottles, the most popular being “non alcoholic”. This usually represents an ABV of up to 0.5%.

Description on labelMaximum ABV content
Low alcohol1.2%
Dealcoholised or Non Alcoholic 0.5%
Alcohol free0.05%

If you want to look further at the laws around labelling and what to look for then read my article on it here

If Heineken 0.0 has no alcohol, is it halal?

This can be a complex issue with different scholars having differing opinions but from my studies and research i feel that Heineken 0.0, as an alcohol free beer, can be considered halal.

lsamic law is clear that Muslims are not allowed to drink any intoxicants, or any drink that may make a person intoxicated.

As Heineken 0.0 can not make you drunk and has 1/14th of the alcohol of orange juice i think it should be considered halal.

To even come close to feeling the affects of alcohol and have a blood alcohol level of half of the legal amount for you to be intoxicated, you would need to drink…

  • 15 gallons
  • 70litres
  • 120pints 

of Heineken 0.0 in an hour and then keep up this rate. I think you would die trying. To follow my maths on that you can read all about it here

In 2019, Heineken launched themselves in Malaysia however in a Facebook statement the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia stated this beer should only been for non muslims and is considered Haram.

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”

For a full overview of the issues on alcohol free beer and if they are halal, read my article on it here

Heineken i bought for this article

What age do you have to be to buy Heineken 0.0?

Heineken 0.0 has no alcohol so that means there are no age restrictions, right?

Well you may or may not be surprised to find out that this isn’t the case. It comes down to a mixture of law, PR and ethics.

In general it is not illegal to sell non alcoholic drinks (<0.5% ABV) to minors. There is no alcohol or they are non alcoholic so the legal drinking age laws do not apply.

However most retailers and manufacturers don’t sell or market their drinks to minors as they are considered adult drinks and styled the same as the alcoholic ones.

Minimum drinking ages are set for good reason. Alcohol in young people can affect…

  • Brain development
  • Unintentional injuries such as car crashes and falls
  • Death from alcohol poisoning
  • School performance
  • Alcohol dependence in later life
  • Additional risky behaviours such as drugs

With this in mind, basically all the manufacturers do not want to market their look a like alcoholic branded products to minors. They only promote and aim their drinks to someone over the legal drinking age.

Similarly the retailers do not want to bring any undue bad PR by selling adult branded non alcoholic copies of alcoholic drinks. Would you be happy to see a 10 year old buy some Heineken 0.0? Probably not.

Heineken tell us

“We take our responsibility extremely seriously and although Heineken 0.0 does not contain alcohol, we do not target consumers below the legal drinking age as we take our responsibility seriously”

My full articles on the ins and outs of why minors probably can’t buy 0.0 drinks click here

Will Heineken 0.0 affect any medical issues?

There are quite a few specific medical issues when someone might want to avoid alcohol.

You could be…

  • Pregnant
  • Breastfeeding
  • Allergic to alcohol
  • Sensitive to alcohol
  • Get migraines from alcohol
  • On medications which interact with alcohol

Luckily for all these conditions and more, Heineken 0.0 really should be considered alcohol free despite the up to 0.05% ABV. 

The Heineken and beer branding will confuse many as to just how low 0.05% is but as we explored above it is a fraction of the alcohol in fruits, breads and even yogurt!

Suffice to say that the minuscule amount of alcohol remaining in a Heineken 0.0 will have absolutely no affect on anyone and will be metabolised away harmlessly without and issue. 

Heineken tell us

“Heineken 0.0 contains less than 0.05% alcohol so as such it is a alcohol free beer. This amount has no impact on the body and is fully fine in view of driving and pregnancy or alc-intolerant medical treatment.”

For a full overview of the calories in Heineken 0.0, read my article here

If you want to know what Heineken 0.0 tastes like vs Heineken, read this article

For every other question you can think of re Heineken 0.0, i have the answers here

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