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Alcohol-free beer and wine?

Discussion in 'Chemistry' started by JakeNoolan, 7 Oct 2014.

  1. JakeNoolan

    JakeNoolan Well-Known Geek

    The last time I tried any it left an aftertaste that was, well, how can I explain, like Asprin!! :yuck:

    But if 'alcohol' is a colourless and tasteless chemical why do alcohol-free beers and wines taste different to their alcoholic counterparts?
  2. I don't know, but I wish somebody would solve that problem! I gave up beer for health reasons and would like to find a zero- or low-alcohol beer (say 2% max strength) which actually tasted nice. I think the weakest ones I can remember enjoying were about 3.5% and they were hard to find.
  3. 0-markymark-0

    0-markymark-0 Über Geek

    The alcohol itself is tasteless but the brewing process cannot easily be replicated without generating the alcohol.
  4. I thought they did generate the alcohol, but then they extracted it? In which case how does taking something tasteless out of something tasty, make it taste so different!
  5. 0-markymark-0

    0-markymark-0 Über Geek

    Don't know, I would presume then the act of removing it isn't entirely harmless.
  6. Alex H

    Alex H Senior Geek

    Central France

    Wikipedia strikes again! :D


    How low-alcohol beer is made

    Low-alcohol beer starts out as regular alcoholic beer, which is then cooked in order to evaporate the alcohol. This is possible because alcohol has a lower boiling point than water, making it easier to boil off. As opposed to water, which boils at 100 °C (212 °F), alcohol will boil at 78.3 °C (173.5 °F).[30] The alcohol is then allowed to escape and the remaining liquid is used, essentially the opposite of distillation. Most modern breweries also utilize vacuum evaporation to preserve flavor and speed up the boiling process. In essence, the beer is placed under a light vacuum to facilitate the alcohol molecules going into gaseous phase. If a sufficient vacuum is applied, it may not even be necessary to cook the beer.

    An alternative process called reverse osmosis does not require heating. The beer is passed through a filter with pores small enough that only alcohol and water (and a few volatile acids) can pass through. The alcohol is distilled out of the alcohol-water mix using conventional distillation methods. After adding the water and remaining acids back into the syrupy mixture of sugars and flavor compounds left on the other side of the filter, the process is then complete.[31]

    How non-alcoholic beer is made
    The conversion from a traditional alcoholic beer to a non-alcoholic beer takes place after the seventh step and preceding the finishing step. The un-carbonated beer is brought up to the boiling point of alcohol. Alcohol boils around 78.3 °C (173.5 °F).[2][30] This temperature will vary slightly with altitude “barometric pressure”; higher temperature at lower altitude and lower temperature at higher altitude. Another method of removing the alcohol is to decrease the pressure so the alcohol boils at room temperature. This is the preferred method because the addition of heat this late in the brewing process can greatly affect the flavor of the brew. If brewers decide to convert their brew to a non-alcoholic brew they must consider the volume of liquid they have lost from the removal of the alcohol. Typically the volume is reduced by roughly 4%, to compensate simply add water. Because water is a key ingredient in beer it will not alter the flavor. Another tip would be avoiding using corn sugars; corn sugars simply increase the alcohol content without adding to the flavor or body of the beer.[2] Once the alcohol is removed proceed with the normal finishing process where the beer is carbonated and bottled.
    Shaun likes this.
  7. So, can anybody suggest a low/zero alcohol beer that actually does taste nice, and not too 'thin'/watery (which was the other problem with the ones I tried)?
  8. amusicsite

    amusicsite dn ʎɐʍ sᴉɥ┴ Staff Member

    Never found a good low/zero alcohol beer myself, not that I've tried many. If not drinking alcohol I would much rather have a fruit juice or glass of water than some fake beer anyway.
  9. amusicsite

    amusicsite dn ʎɐʍ sᴉɥ┴ Staff Member

    I wonder if it's like MSG, a flavour enhancer. So while it's flavourless on it's own it may bring out flavours, or suppress flavours when mixed with others.
  10. I drink chilled OJ and carbonated spring water as my treat these days.