Low-alcoholic brews such as small beer date back at least to Medieval Europe, where they served as a less risky alternative to water (which often was polluted by feces and parasites) and were less expensive than the full strength brews used at festivities.
More recently, the temperance movements and the need to avoid alcohol while driving, operating machinery etc led to the development of non-intoxicating beers.
In the United States, non-alcoholic brews were promoted during Prohibition, according to John Naleszkiewicz. In 1917, President Wilson proposed limiting the alcohol content of malt beverages to 2.75% to try to appease avid prohibitionists. In 1919, Congress approved the Volstead Act, which limited the alcohol content of all beverages to 0.5%. These very low alcohol beverages became known as tonics, and many breweries began brewing them in order to stay in business during Prohibition. Since removing the alcohol from the beer requires just one simple extra step, many breweries saw it as an easy change. In 1933, when Prohibition was repealed, breweries easily removed this extra step.
By the 1980s and 1990s, growing concerns about alcoholism led to the growing popularity of “light” beers, with Anheuser-Busch’s Bud Light eventually becoming the most popular beverage in the U.S.A. In the 2010s, breweries have focused on marketing low-alcohol beers to counter the popularity of homebrew. Declining consumption has also led to the introduction of mass-market non-alcoholic beverages, dubbed as “near beer”.
At the start of the 21st century, alcohol-free beer has seen a rise in popularity in the Middle East (which now makes up a third of the market). One reason for this is that Islamic scholars issued fatwas which permitted the consumption of beer as long as large quantities could be consumed without getting drunk.
1. The first known recipe is for a 4,000-year-old beer made by the Sumerians.
2. Anchor Brewing in the 1980 re-created these ancient Fertile Crescent suds.
3. Egyptians, built the pyramids under the influence. Workers at Giza received about four liters of beer a day, according to Patrick McGovern, a biomolecular archaeologist at the University of Pennsylvania.
4. Beer was a healthier drink than polluted Nile river water.
5. Ethanol, the intoxicant in beer, is a powerful antiseptic, but not a good cold remedy. The optimal blood alcohol content to kill germs would be more than 60 percent. Alas, that’d kill you, too.
6. Researchers at the University of Western Ontario found that micronutrients called polyphenols in one 12-ounce (0.35-liter) bottle of beer create protective levels of plasma antioxidants that can prevent heart disease.
7. At three bottles a day, the cardiovascular benefits of beer are reversed by the pro-oxidants your body creates as it metabolizes excess ethanol.
8. Beer farts, might earn you an offer for a bung — the large cork that seals a cask’s bunghole to allow beer to ferment properly.
9. In Great Britain , 93,000 liters of beer are rumored to be lost each year in facial hair.
10. You might have known that fact if you were a beer expert, or cerevisaphile — a word derived from the Latin name of the Roman goddess of agriculture, Ceres, and vis, meaning strength.