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I'm a beer enthusiast who turned to non-alcoholic brews to make it through Dry January. Here are my 7 favorites.

Anna Medaris   

I'm a beer enthusiast who turned to non-alcoholic brews to make it through Dry January. Here are my 7 favorites.
Athletic Brewing is a leader in the alcohol-free beer space, but despite its appealing can, the Free Wave hazy IPA isn't one of my favorites.Anna Medaris
  • I'm a beer lover who did Dry January last year and found some great alcohol-free brews.
  • I've enjoyed authentic-tasting nonalcoholic IPAs, stouts, sours, and ales this January, too.

After 30 consecutive days alcohol-free in January 2022 — a first for me in over a decade — I broke my streak with a few real (and really strong) beers at a local brewery with my husband.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the thick pour of the imperial stout and the burgeoning buzz from the double IPA, I was reminded the next morning why I had wanted to take a break in the first place. As much as it pains me to admit it, even a casual Tuesday night happy hour can affect my sleep, derail my workouts, and cloud my focus.

Luckily, last year I learned that non-alcoholic beers can be great alternatives in January and beyond — something I'm relying on again this year as I take a damper approach to January by choosing alcohol-free bars most (but not all) nights.

Due to beer's relatively low alcohol content compared to wine and liquor, removing the booze or crafting them without it makes for quite an authentic tasting experience. (Retired wine lovers, I hear, don't have as many good options.)

Plus, there are more and more retail shops and bars selling alcohol-free brews, entire online marketplaces dedicated to shipping alcohol-free drinks if you can't find them locally, and vibrant online communities dedicated to celebrating and reviewing non-alcoholic beer.

This year, I'm planning to slow my drinking well after January is over. Here are the seven nonalcoholic varieties I'll be returning to when the mood for a beer, but not a buzz, strikes.

WellBeing "Intentional IPA" is my all-around favorite non-alcoholic beer.

WellBeing "Intentional IPA" is my all-around favorite non-alcoholic beer.
WellBeing is a line of non-alcoholic beers crafted by a husband-and-wife team dedicated to removing the stigma of not drinking.      Anna Medaris

I love everything about this brew: Its deep golden hue, depth of flavor, full-bodied pour, and even the fact that its packaged in a proper pint-sized can, as opposed to 12-ounce can.

My only caveat, which applies to many alcohol-free beers in my opinion, is that its "IPA" classification may lead hop-heads astray. To me, it goes down more like a hearty, but not too sweet, wheat.

Cost: $10.99 for a 4-pack

"Athletic Lite" is my favorite low-calorie option for washing down a burger or watching a game.

"Athletic Lite" is my favorite low-calorie option for washing down a burger or watching a game.
Athletic Brewing has found a niche among, unsurprisingly, athletes.      Athletic Brewing Company

When I first received an unsolicited sample of Athletic Brewing's "Lite" beer, I scoffed. If you're already removing the booze from my beer, why do you need to remove calories (and, I presumed, any trace of taste or satisfaction) too? Let us have something!

I stand corrected. Sometimes, you just want to slam a couple of cans of beer with no consequences — and this brew allows you to do so, with four beers coming it at only 100 calories total.

It doesn't taste like water, either.

But while I love Athletic Brewing, founded in 2017, for helping pave the way for nonalcoholic beers and for its appealing designs (that peach-colored "Free Wave" hazy IPA can is just luscious), I haven't found myself returning to their non-lite varieties as much as other brands.

Cost: $13.99 for a 6-pack

Lagunitas IPNA is my go-to alcohol-free IPA.

Lagunitas IPNA is my go-to alcohol-free IPA.
I'm a fan of Lagunitas' "Little Sumpin' Sumpin'" when I am drinking alcohol, but the brand's IPNA hits the spot when I'm not.      Anna Medaris

Much of the appeal of non-alcoholic beers, and non-alcoholic drinks in general, is their ability to allow you to maintain rituals "without compromise," per Athletic Brewing's slogan.

If you're doing Dry January, pregnant, or just not drinking for any reason, you can still pour a frothy cold one after work, toast to friends at bars, or replenish your carbs after a long run.

But one ritual I didn't realize I appreciated was simply picking up a good-looking six-pack of craft beer bottles at the grocery store. While many alcohol-free beers are cans, Lagunitas' bottles look and feel like the real thing.

And, unlike the Wellbeing IPA, this one delivers an ample hit of hoppy bitterness that IPA fans love and expect.

Cost: Between $9.99-$14.00 for a 6-pack

Busty Lush's "She's Divine" oatmeal stout has a sense of humor and robust taste.

Busty Lush
How can you not love a non-alcoholic beer brand called "Busty Lush?"      Anna Medaris

Come winter, I crave rich porters and stouts, but the non-alcoholic varieties of dark beers have left me wanting.

I've tried Athletic Brewing's "All Out" extra dark, Big Drop Brewing's "Galactic" extra dark, and Surreal Brewing's "Pastry Porter," among others.

Despite good reviews and descriptions with mouthwatering words like "malty," "milk sugar," and "thick texture," I find they tend to taste thin and a bit tinny. Usually, I'd rather just have a hot chocolate.

But Busty Lush's oatmeal stout stands out for its relative complexity, chocolatey aroma, and heady pour. As a bonus, the brewery is women-owned, and the quirky cans are designed by female artists. Cheers!

Cost: $12.99 for a 4-pack

Heineken 0.0 is a winner for its accessibility.

Heineken 0.0 is a winner for its accessibility.
I kicked off Damp January 2023 in the airport with a Heineken 0.0.      Anna Medaris

I've enjoyed Heineken 0.0 at an airport bar, a Skee-Ball bar, and a comedy club. I've also grabbed 6-packs from my local bodega, making it the most easily accessible non-alcoholic beer on this list.

The no-frills sister of Heineken gets points for solidly replicating the OG import, and mostly for its wide-spread availability.

Cost: Between $8.49 - $12 for a 6-pack

Golden Road's alcohol-free "Mango Cart" delivers when I'm itching for something sweeter.

Golden Road
Golden Road also makes an alcoholic Mango Cart.      Anna Medaris

LA-based brewery Golden Road sent me samples of its alcohol-free "Mango Cart" in anticipation of my Dry January coverage.

While I love a good Blue Moon or three, I don't like shandies — too sweet. I worried "Mango Cart" would taste more like the latter. But while this is unmistakably a fruity beer, it still tastes like beer, not juice. I plowed through the cans in just a few days.

I'd say it's dangerously drinkable — but there's no danger involved when your libations are alcohol-free. Case in point: After drinking one last week, I went to yoga.

Cost: Between $10.49 - $12.00 for a 6-pack

Best Day Brewing's non-alcoholic west coast IPA doesn't taste like its name, but is remarkably satisfying.

Best Day Brewing
Best Day Brewing is a Northern California brand brewed for life's "moments that deserve a great beer, but not the booze."      Anna Medaris

Similar to other so-called IPAs in the alcohol-free space, this brew lacks a bitter bite. But as someone who prefers double and hazy IPAs over the traditional west coast varieties, that's A-OK with me!

Best Day Brewing's west coast IPA goes down like a rich amber and is wonderfully diverse. It's satisfying on its own, enjoyed with your favorite bar snack or meal, or — as my husband discovered — paired with (very real) whiskey. Hey, you have to start somewhere.

Cost: $13.99 for a 6-pack

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