About Heineken 0.0
Launched in May 2017, Heineken 0.0 is the brand’s first non-alcoholic beer, which they claim is a recipe based on years of exploring and brewing, with a perfectly balanced taste that’s refreshing fruity and softly malty.
In their press release, the company outlines that their rationale for creating this zero alcohol brew was to meet increasing European demand, a market segment that grew about five percent a year between 2010 and 2015.
While the Heineken brewmasters started with the same ingredients as their original version, such as water, barley, malt, hop extract, along with their unique A-yeast, 0.0 represents a completely new blend that has the alcohol content gently and naturally removed after brewing.
Together, Heineken markets 0.0 as an ideal choice for “all people, moments and drinking occasions, which might call for a beer but not for alcohol.”
Are you considering picking up a few bottles of new Heineken 0.0? If so, what can you realistically expect as far as taste? Will it satisfy like a regular beer, but without the alcohol content? Let’s start with the basics.
What’s the Difference Between Regular & Non-Alcoholic Beer?
Obviously, the main difference is in the alcohol content. But are there any other meaningful differences, and how does the process work?
In The Science of Non-Alcoholic Beer, Gizmodo’s Brent Rose tells us that non-alcoholic (NA) beer is processed and brewed exactly like regular beer. However, whereas regular beer will be bottled and aged immediately after being brewed, NA beer has to go through an added step to strip away most (or all) of its alcohol content.
This is often accomplished using one of the following methods (Heineken doesn’t tell us which of these is used for 0.0):
- Boiling – After brewing, the beer will be heated to a temperature of 173 degrees F (although a process called vacuum distilling can lower this temperature to 120 degrees) until it contains no more than 0.5 percent alcohol content.
- Reverse-Osmosis – Without going into unnecessary detail, this essentially involves filtering out alcohol of the beer.
Finally, carbonation is added, either manually using CO2 (like soda), or by adding a small amount of yeast and sugar to the bottle, which results in some natural fizz.
As we can see, with these added processes, the chemical composition of the beer is significantly changed, typically resulting in a much different taste and flavor profile than the starting brew. This is why Heineken claims to have started from scratch with 0.0 in order to find a well-balanced taste.
Other than the starting recipes, how else does the original version and Heineken 0.0 differ?
How Many Calories Does Heineken 0.0 Have Compared to the Original?
Just to reiterate, Heineken 0.0 isn’t simply an alcohol-free version of their original brew. Instead, it’s a completely new recipe formulated from scratch to optimize its taste as a non-alcoholic beer.
In addition to alcohol content, this also resulted in other nutritional differences across the board:
- Energy 176kJ / 42 kcal
- Fat 0 g
- Saturated Fat 0 g
- Carbohydrates 3.2 g
- Carbs From Sugars < 0 g
- Protein 0 g
- Salt < 0.01 g
- Energy 90kJ / 21 kcal
- Fat < 0.1 g
- Carbohydrates 4.8 g
- Carbs From Sugars 1.3 g
- Protein 0.4 g
- Salt < 0.01 g
In summary, not only does Heineken 0.0 have no alcohol content compared to the original recipe, but it also features about half the calories, a little more protein, and slightly more carbohydrates (mostly from sugars).
With these key differences in mind, what will you pay for Heineken 0.0?
How Much Does Heineken 0.0 Cost & Where Is It Available?
Like almost every other adult beverage, exactly what you’ll pay for Heineken 0.0 largely depends on where you live (taxes) and the retailer from which you purchase it.
Heineken tells us that 0.0 will initially be available in 14 markets in 2017, including those in Europe, Russia, and Israel. However, According to Mike Pomranz at Food & Wine, “the brewer has no plans to launch 0.0 in the States.”
Although it’s a relatively new product, what are beer drinkers saying about Heineken 0.0?
What Can We Learn From Heineken 0.0 Reviews?
Continuing with Mike Pomranz’s article in Food & Wine, he provided the most robust description of Heineken 0.0 we encountered during our research:
“Heineken 0.0 certainly isn’t bad. Non-alcoholic beers run the gamut from tasting like sweet unfermented wort (the sugary liquid that eventually turns into beer) to actually somewhat resembling the taste of a beer. Heineken landed in the latter category. Though the body was thin, 0.0 was refreshingly dry, lacking the fruity qualities that some major non-alcoholic beers like O’Doul’s suffer from. Like every N/A beer I’ve ever tried, if you’re truly craving a beer, this won’t scratch the itch. However, 0.0 would certainly make a solid replacement for a soda or some other sparkling beverage.”
On RateBeer.com, 26 users gave the brew an average rating of 2.47 out of five, with “Palate” the seemingly lowest rated overall component. Heineken 0.0 had a similar rating of 2.3 on UnTappd among 3,500+ reviewers.
As a company, Heineken is the second largest beer manufacturer in the world. They hold a portfolio of more than 170 brands, including Amstel, Birra Moretti, Desperados, Foster’s Lager, Lagunitas, and Newcastle, with a reported revenue of nearly €21 billion in 2016.
Their USA division, based out of Pleasanton, CA, had an A+ Better Business Bureau rating and no closed complaints as of 6/7/17.
Does Heineken 0.0 Have Any Zero-Alcohol Beer Competition?
While there are perhaps hundreds of non-alcoholic beer options (including for several of the other brands in Heineken’s portfolio), the reality is that they can be classified as such and still contain up to 5 percent ABV. So, if you’re looking for a zero percent alcohol, otherwise known as alcohol-free, beer, your options will be much more limited.
But there are still many popular options competing with Heineken 0.0, (especially if you live in Europe), such as Bavaria Premium Malt, Ambar 0.0, Carlsberg 0.0, Jupiler, Nix Zero Premium Wheat, and Estrella Damm Free.
Like Heineken 0.0, you’ll find that many non-alcoholic beers are lagers, or lighter options like wheat beers, since the alcohol removal process discussed earlier can strip away the body and hoppiness.
So, while the “best” option will almost wholly depend on your personal tastes and preferences, if you’re expecting to find heavier, hoppier brews (such as IPAs) in alcohol-free options, you’re likely going to be disappointed by your overall selection.
What’s the Bottom Line About Heineken 0.0?
While we, unfortunately, didn't get to test Heineken 0.0 firsthand—and likely won't, since there's currently no plan to release the recipe in the U.S.—the company undoubtedly takes their beer seriously.
In fact, they claim to have crafted a completely new recipe to satisfy their European customers’ increasing demand for high-quality, good tasting non-alcoholic beer. And based on their middle-of-the-road online customer reputation, they seemed to be meeting these demands about half of the time.
Is the brew right for you? Like any other beverage, this will wholly hinge on your specific preferences. But if you’re looking for good taste and zero alcohol, it seems like you have another solid option available with Heineken 0.0.
Before you click away, be sure to tell us about your Heineken 0.0 experience below!