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Dealcoholization And Its Impact - Beer, Wine Made Better?

Dealcoholized beverages or non-alcoholic drinks can be an alternative for individuals who want to enjoy the flavors of alcoholic drinks without the negative effects of alcohol consumption. Discussing dealcoholization and its impact will reveal how this process helps reduce alcohol-related diseases, accidents, and addiction. Still, what can be the challenges?

Dr. Bill Butcher
Dec 08, 20231888 Shares62943 Views
The process of dealcoholization and its impacthave garnered significant attention in recent times.
Its multifaceted impacts on various aspects of society and individual well-being have become evident over time.
From altering social dynamics to influencing healthoutcomes, the practice of dealcoholization carries implications that extend far beyond the realm of alcoholic beverages.
This transformative approach has sparked discussions and debates regarding its effects on public health, consumer preferences, economic landscapes, and even cultural traditions.
Exploring the wide-ranging consequences of dealcoholization and its impact will enlighten people about the significance of such a process.

The EU towards the green light to the dealcoholization of wine. The objective is new markets

What Does Dealcoholization Mean?

Dealcoholization refers to the process of removing or reducing the alcohol content in a beverage, typically in alcoholic drinks, such as:
  • wine
  • beer
  • spirits (e.g., brandy, vodka, whiskey)
This process is often carried out to create non-alcoholic or low-alcohol versions of these beverages.
Such a process can be challenging, to say the least.
As Amanda Thomson, founder and CEO of Thomson & Scott, the U.K. company behind the non-alcoholic wine Noughty, explained to Smithsonian Magazine in 2022:
Wine is a drinks category that is absolutely not known for innovation.- Amanda Thomson
Though dealcoholization aims to remove or reduce the alcohol content, it retains the flavor and other desirable attributes of the beverage concerned.
It caters to individuals who either do not consume alcohol or prefer to limit their alcohol intake for various reasons, such as:
  • health
  • religious beliefs
  • personal preferences
Dealcoholization and its impact such as on people’s health, for example, can be regarded as a validation of its importance.
There are several methods used for dealcoholization, each with its own advantages and limitations.
Athletic Brewing Company Run Wild; Heineken Non-Alcoholic 0.0; Brooklyn Special Effects Hoppy Amber
Athletic Brewing Company Run Wild; Heineken Non-Alcoholic 0.0; Brooklyn Special Effects Hoppy Amber

Best Non-Alcoholic Beer

According to a December 2022 CNBC report, over 2 percent of the beer sold in grocery stores across the U.S. are non-alcoholic beers.
In fact, it gets as high as 8 percent - even more - if you are going to consider those sold in national or major chain retailers (e.g., 7-11, Costco, and Walmart).
This is one proof of dealcoholization and its impact on consumers.
For that, we bring you two separate lists from a couple of reputable sources for the best non-alcoholic beer in 2023.
The first list is from
Rating/DescriptionNon-Alcoholic Beer
Best OverallBrooklyn Brewery Special Effects Hoppy Amber
Best Belgian WhiteCeria Grainwave Belgian-Style White
Best CraftAthletic Brewing Company Run Wild Non-Alcoholic IPA
Best GermanClausthaler Original Non-Alcoholic
Best Hazy IPA (India Pale Ale)BrewDog Hazy AF
Best IPALagunitas Brewing Company IPNA
Best LagerHeineken Non-Alcoholic 0.0
Best Low-CalorieSuntory ALL-FREE
Best StoutBravus Oatmeal Dark
Best WheatWeihenstephaner Hefeweissbier
The second list of the best non-alcoholic beers is from Men’s Journal. According to this popular men's lifestyle magazine, the 26 non-alcoholic beers it picked “taste like the real thing.”
Below are the top 20 ones on the list, published in April 2023:
1. Karbach Free and Easy NA IPA11. Athletic Brewing Company Upside Dawn Golden Ale
2. Guinness 0 Non-Alcoholic Draught12. Suntory All-Free
3. Sober Carpenter Non-Alcoholic West Coast IPA13. Lagunitas Brewing Company IPNA
4. Untitled Art Non-Alcoholic Italian Pilsner14. Samuel Adams Just the Haze IPA
5. Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Alkoholfrei15. Ceria Brewing Company Grainwave
6. Golden Road NA Mango Cart16. Surreal Brewing Company Natural Bridges Kölsch Style Ale
7. Al’s Classic Non-Alcoholic Lager17. Heineken 0.0
8. Brooklyn Brewery Special Effects IPA18. Bauhaus Brew Labs “Nah” Helles Lager
9. Wellbeing Heavenly Body19. BrewDog Wake Up Call
10. Two Roads Brewing Co. Non-Alcoholic American IPA20. Clausthaler Santa Clausthauler

Best Non-Alcoholic Wine

Julia Littauer, a sommelier (wine steward) from Napa, California, likes drinking the non-alcoholic beers of the Athletic Brewing Company.
She told Smithsonian Magazine in 2022 that in one of those moments when she was enjoying one of its non-alcoholic beers, an idea popped into her head.
Littauer thought, as a wine lover, she should be making her own dealcoholized wine.
So, she tasted and compared several non-alcoholic wines but, according to Smithsonian, Littauer found them all sharing a similar familiar taste: that of a “sweet grape juice.”
Thus, she proceeded to create her own version of non-alcoholic wine and co-founded Sovi Wine Co. in California in 2020.
This story, we can say, is dealcoholization and its impact at one of their finest moments. The process allows people to further explore - and alter - the tastes and composition of wines.
Below are ten of the best non-alcoholic wines in 2023, again, as evaluated by
Rating/DescriptionNon-Alcoholic Wine
Best OverallLeitz Eins Zwei Zero Riesling
Best for BrunchFreixenet Sparkling Alcohol-Removed Wine
Best for the HolidaysCodorniu Zero Brut Alcohol-Free
Best Off-DryNoughty Alcohol-Free Sparkling White Wine
Best RedAriel Cabernet Sauvignon
Runner-Up, Best RedFre Merlot
Best RoseSt. Regis Nonalcoholic Shiraz Rose
Best SparklingCodorniu Zero Brut Alcohol-Free
Best WhiteGiesen Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 0% Alcohol
Runner-Up, Best WhiteLuminara Alcohol-Removed Chardonnay
Same with non-alcoholic beers, we have another list of the best non-alcoholic wines in 2023. This time, it’s based on authentic customer reviews compiled by Wine Enthusiast.
Here goes the list:
Rating/DescriptionNon-Alcoholic Wine
Best Red WineAriel Cabernet Sauvignon
Best Rose WineFre White Zinfandel
Best Sparkling WinesFreixenet Sparkling Alcohol-Removed Wine
St. Regis Non-Alcoholic Brut
Chatêau De Fleur Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Wine Champagnette
Best White WineGiesen Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc
Best Wine AlternativesStella Rosa Peach Non-Alcoholic
Belvoir Fruit Farms Elderflower Rose Lemonade
TÖST All-Natural Alcohol-Free Sparkling Beverage
Red Clay and Red Ember Proxies

Dealcoholization Process

The process of dealcoholizationis anything but simple.
Remember what Naughty CEO Amanda Thomson said to Smithsonian Magazine in 2022? That it won’t be easy to innovate wines?
Kayla Winter, who works at the California-based winery BevZero as Director of U.S. Product Services & Winemaking, echoed the same sentiments during a 2022 Smithsonian interview.
She acknowledged the arduous process of making non-alcoholic drinks.
Winter, a Cornell University alumna, where she earned a degree in Viticulture (the cultivation and management of grapevines) and Enology (the science and study of wine and winemaking), told Smithsonian:
Alcohol is tough, because it has flavor, it has weight, it has a burn, it has sweetness, and when you remove it, you lose all of those things.- Kayla Winter
The essence of dealcoholization and its impact can be seen in the various methods used for dealcoholization. Such methods include the following:
1. Additive Processes
Some additive processes involve introducing substances that can bind to alcohol molecules, facilitating their removal.
For example, activated carbon or resin can be used to adsorb alcohol from the liquid. Once the alcohol is bound to the adsorbent, the mixture is filtered to remove the alcohol-laden substance.
2. Freeze Distillation
Also known as freeze concentration, it involves freezing the liquid and removing the ice crystals that form.
Since alcohol has a lower freezing point than water, the ice crystals that form are alcohol-rich. By removing these ice crystals, the concentration of alcohol in the remaining liquid is reduced.
However, this method is less precise and can lead to some flavor loss.
3. Heat Evaporation
It involves gently heating the beer or wine to evaporate the alcohol, which has a lower boiling point than water. The vaporized alcohol is then collected and condensed back into liquid form.
This dealcoholization process requires careful control of temperature to prevent flavor degradation.
4. Electro-dialysis
Electric current passes through the liquid, which creates an electrical potential that drives ions (charged particles) to move through a selective membrane.
This process can be used to selectively remove alcohol ions from the liquid, reducing its alcohol content.
5. Simmering
Similar to heat evaporation, simmering involves gently heating the beverage to allow the alcohol to evaporate. However, in simmering, the liquid is maintained just below its boiling point to reduce the risk of excessive flavor loss.
This process of dealcoholization is often used for smaller quantities of liquids.

Dealcoholization And Its Impact

A paper published in April 2021 in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry by the American Chemical Society (ACS) discusses dealcoholization and its impact.
According to the paper, in terms of beer, the impact of dealcoholization on beer can be recognized through its:
  • appearance
  • aroma
  • foam or head (the layer of bubbles that forms at the top of the beer when it’s poured into a glass)
  • taste
They are collectively known as the beer’s “sensory profile.”
Foam, by the way, can influence the perception of the beer’s flavor and helps deliver its aroma as well.
A non-alcoholic beer being poured from a bottle into a glass sitting on a square coaster on a table
A non-alcoholic beer being poured from a bottle into a glass sitting on a square coaster on a table
Osmotic distillation is another separation process used for dealcoholization.
The said paper talked about this particular method of dealcoholization and its impact on the beer’s “chemical-physical characteristics,” which include:
a. Foam
  • the layer of bubbles that forms at the top of the beer when it’s poured into a glass
  • can influence the perception of the beer’s flavor and helps deliver its aroma as well
b. Organic acids(e.g., alcohol, phenols, proteins, sugars)
c. Total phenols
  • the total concentration of phenolic compounds in a beer
  • Phenols or phenolic compounds contribute to the flavor, aroma, color, and overall sensory characteristics of the beer.
d. Turbidity
  • the beer’s cloudiness or haziness
  • Turbidity can impact the appearance of the beer, which is an important aspect of its overall sensory experience.
Speaking of turbidity, while most beer styles are expected to be clear and visually appealing, there are certain styles (e.g., some wheat beers) where a certain level of turbidity might be intentionally desired for flavor or texture reasons.
Dealcoholization and its impact on different aspects of society, individuals, and the economy can be both positive and negative.
Here are some possible impacts of dealcoholization:
A. Positive Impacts
1. Safer Driving
Lowering the alcohol content in beverages can lead to fewer instances of impaired driving, reducing the number of accidents and fatalities caused by drunk driving.
2. Socialization
People who prefer not to consume alcohol (e.g., due to health, cultural, religious, or personal reasons) can still participate in social gatherings where alcohol is served.
Thus, it fosters inclusivity and a sense of belonging.
Five faceless people making a toast with their wine glasses and a faceless person on the side not joining
Five faceless people making a toast with their wine glasses and a faceless person on the side not joining
3. Innovation
Dealcoholization and its impact can lead to the development of new and creative non-alcoholic drink options that cater to a wider range of consumer preferences.
Therefore, dealcoholization encourages innovation in the beverage industry.
4. Reduced Addiction Risk
By providing alternatives with little to no alcohol content, dealcoholization may contribute to reducing the risk of alcohol addiction and dependence, especially among those with a predisposition to substance abuse.
B. Negative Impacts
1. Flavor and Quality
The removal of alcohol from beverages can alter their taste, aroma, and overall sensory experience, potentially diminishing the quality and appeal of the drinks.
2. Cultural Significance
Alcoholic beverages often hold cultural, traditional, and historical significance in various societies.
Dealcoholization and its impact on the rituals, ceremonies, and practices associated with beer and wine consumption can lead to cultural-related concerns/problems.
3. Economic Impact
The alcohol industry is a significant contributor to many economies, providing jobs and generating revenue through taxes and sales.
A shift towards non-alcoholic options can affect this economic landscape.
4. Regulatory Challenges
Depending on the jurisdiction, the production and sale of dealcoholized beverages might be subject to different regulations compared to alcoholic beverages.
Dealcoholization can lead to challenges in:
  • labeling
  • advertising
  • distribution
5. Consumer Perception
Beer and wine drinkers might perceive dealcoholized beverages as less sophisticated or less enjoyable compared to their alcoholic counterparts.
This perception involves dealcoholization and its impact on the market acceptance of these products.
6. Social Norms
Alcohol consumption is deeply ingrained in social norms and behaviors.
Widespread adoption of dealcoholized beverages:
  • might require a shift in these norms
  • could face resistance from those who value traditional alcoholic beverages
7. Environmental Considerations
The process of dealcoholization could have environmental impacts depending on the methods used.
Certain techniques might consume energy or water resources. So, there’s a concern over dealcoholization and its impact on sustainability.
In addition, dealcoholization is done for various reasons.
One of the key reasons it is pursued is for health concerns. Many individuals need to avoid consuming alcohol, such as:
  • pregnant women
  • people with certain medical conditions
  • individuals on medications that interact with alcohol
  • those who are in recovery from alcohol addiction
Why the need, therefore, for dealcoholization?
Non-alcoholic versions of beer and wine allow these individuals to enjoy the taste and experience of these beverages without the potential negative health effects of alcohol consumption.
In terms of health and wellness, here are some key impacts of dealcoholization to consider:
A. Positive Health Impacts
1. Reduced Risk of Alcohol-Related Harm
Dealcoholized can help reduce the risk of alcohol-related health issues such as liver damage, addiction, and impaired judgment.
2. Lower Caloric Intake
Alcohol is calorie-dense. Reducing its content in beverages can result in fewer calories consumed per serving.
This can be beneficial for individuals looking to manage their weight or caloric intake.
3. Improved Sleep Quality
Alcohol consumption, particularly in large amounts, can disrupt sleep patterns.
This is dealcoholization and its impact during one’s bedtime: improved sleep quality for those who experience sleep disturbances related to alcohol consumption.
4. Potential for Social Enjoyment
For people who enjoy the social aspects of sharing drinks with friends or colleagues but want to avoid alcohol, dealcoholized beverages can provide a suitable substitute that still allows them to participate in social gatherings.
Five women seated on a row in a restaurant, with a man pouring non-alcoholic wine
Five women seated on a row in a restaurant, with a man pouring non-alcoholic wine
B. Negative Health Impacts
1. Nutritional Considerations
Some alcoholic beverages, like wine, contain antioxidants and beneficial compounds that are lost during the dealcoholization process.
This can impact the potential health benefits associated with moderate alcohol consumption, such as heart health benefits from certain red wines.
2. Processing and Additives
Certain techniques or additives used to remove the alcohol from beers and wines could introduce chemicals or alter their nutritional profile.
3. Misleading Consumption
People might mistakenly believe that dealcoholized beverages are entirely alcohol-free.
Consuming these beverages in excess under the assumption that they are non-alcoholic could lead to unintended health consequences.
4. Psychological Effects
Some people may psychologically associate the flavors of dealcoholized beverages with the effects of alcohol. It can lead to cravings or unfulfilled expectations.

What Happens To Your Body When You Stop Drinking Alcohol

People Also Ask

What Is The Difference Between Alcohol Free And Dealcoholized?

According to Healthline, generally speaking, a dealcoholized beerand wine means that some or most - can even be entirely all - of their alcohol content is removed.
That said, a dealcoholized beverage can still contain some percentage of alcohol. That is why beer and wine companies indicate on the label the alcohol content (e.g., 5% alcohol or 0% alcohol).

What Does Dealcoholized Wine Taste Like?

Their tastes vary but most people find non-alcoholic wines good.
According to the website of Surely, a non-alcoholic California wine, dealcoholized wines:
  • “can taste like juice” (e.g., sparkling grape juice)
  • “likely taste sweeter”

Is It Healthy To Drink Non-Alcoholic Beer Every Day?

According to Everyday Health, when it comes to beer and wine consumption, a 2018 study published in the medical journal The Lancet confirmed that “the safest level of drinking is none.”
That’s regardless whether you’re consuming dealcoholized beer or wine. So, as with any dietary choice, moderation and informed decision-making are key.

Final Thoughts

Discussing dealcoholization and its impact will dwell on the dimensions of health and wellness and society, among many others. Nevertheless, non-alcoholic drinks are here to stay.
Society has long patronized dealcoholized beverages.
In fact, according to Global Market Insights, as reported by CNBC, the world’s non-alcoholic beer market in 2022 grew to $22 billion.
As for the non-alcoholic wine market, a reportby the Dublin-based market research company Fact.MR says that by 2033, it could balloon to $5.2 billion.
Dealcoholization and its impact pose challenges to beer companies and wine makers alike because of the multifaceted effects on health, society, culture, and the economy.
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