Best NA Beers for Sober October
If you’re like many of us, you may have noticed you’re enjoying a beer (or two) a bit more often than you did in the past. Many equate a tasty beer with helping them wind down, relax, and enjoy good company and conversation. But that beer (especially if it turns into three or four) comes with some serious downsides. Unless, that is, you’re choosing one of the healthiest NA beers instead.
Why Sober October?
It doesn’t seem right to have Oktoberfest the same month as Sober October. Fortunately, there’s little overlap as Oktoberfest begins in September and ends the first weekend of October, also called the Saddest Day of Oktoberfest or Wurst Day. This “sad day” was celebrated this year (2023) on October 1. What a perfect day to get happy again by raising our steins to Sober October with a wide range of the healthiest NA beers!
Now, there’s nothing wrong with having an occasional beer or moderate drinking in general (which boils down to one drink per day for women and two for men) for many of us. In fact, it may even come with benefits, including:
- Stress and tension reduction
- A decrease in self-consciousness
- Lower risk of heart disease (as it may moderately increase high-density lipoproteins or HDL cholesterol and provides vitamin B6).
- Increased pleasant, carefree feelings—interestingly, both abstainers and heavy drinkers reportedly have higher rates of depression than moderate drinkers.
And unfortunately, it can be easy to tip over that usual limit, and drinking more than that can lead to negative consequences. Immediate effects include:
- Flushed skin
- Confusion or trouble controlling emotional reactions (including anger)
- Low blood sugar
- Irregular heart rate
- And risky behavior
Regular overuse over time can also lead to:
- Increased weight gain and risk of obesity
- Increased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and liver disease
- Digestive issues
- Increased risk of numerous cancers
- Weakened immune response
- Learning and memory issues
- Depression and anxiety
- Increased risk of alcohol dependency
Sober October provides the perfect motivation to reevaluate your relationship with alcohol as you won’t be doing it alone. (In a recent meeting, we discovered several people on the BioTRUST team are on board for Sober October this year, so we’re celebrating together. Cheers!)
The Rules for Sober October
Like Dry January, the only “rule” of Sober October is not to drink alcohol for a specific number of days. There’s an official U.K. challenge that fundraises to fight cancer with options to quit booze for 14, 21, or 31 days. (So even if you haven’t started yet, you can still finish the month with us.) Alternatively, you can loosely watch your drinking more closely, limiting or abstaining for several days.
Just some of the many benefits of taking a month off drinking include:
- Improved sleep
- More energy
- Improved concentration
- Lower cholesterol levels
- Increased control over your emotions and your reactions to others
- Decreased irritability
- Improved immune functioning, so you’re less likely to get sick (which is helpful at the start of the cold and flu season)
- And zero risk of a hangover!
Finally, enjoying the healthiest NA beers seamlessly fits into a more active lifestyle. They’re often lower in calories, and unless you’re an elite athlete, they won’t affect your performance. What’s more, you won’t be more likely to eat unhealthy foods due to lower inhibitions since they contain little to no alcohol.
They’re also a great option for non-drinkers (about 30.5% of adults in the past year) who want to get together socially or for networking events but want to remain clear-headed (or will be driving). After all, being the only one in the crowd without a beverage in hand can feel a bit awkward.
How to Get the Most Out of Sober October
Sober October shouldn’t be about deprivation or what you’re giving up. Reframe your thinking about all you’ll be gaining instead, which can make the adventure so much more rewarding. Other strategies include:
- Be curious and intentional as you find other ways to relax and enjoy your days and social outings without alcohol. Explore your emotions, your energy levels, and how you’re feeling about the break. Do you miss having a beer after work? Are you finding it hard to stick to the challenge? Or do you find you have no more than a passing nostalgia? Or that you don’t miss it at all and want to continue for another week, month, or more?
- Use this month to try out new habits or hobbies. Instead of beers and football, encourage your friends to join you outdoors for a game. Or skip the Friday night pub hangout and head to the gym. After the gym, you could invite some friends over for a friendly game night and use it as an opportunity to try some of the healthiest NA beers. If you know you’ll have an especially stressful workday, consider making an appointment for a massage, manicure, or pedicure.
There are endless enjoyable activities that don’t involve the usual beer. Fall hikes to look at the leaves, for example, are a favorite around here. You can also give music, writing, or diving into an organization project you’ve been putting off a go. This gives you something else to focus on with no need for alcohol.
- Plan ahead before gatherings and consider bringing your own healthier NA beer. (There are several great ones to choose from!) Or, if you’re meeting at a restaurant, select your beverage of choice in advance. You may even want to have your response ready for people who are surprised you’ve switched up your drink order. You can say, “No thanks,” or expand a bit to, “No, thank you. I’m sober this October.”
- Don’t go it alone. Ask friends, family members, or co-workers to stay sober with you. You may find they’re already doing it, and you can motivate each other. Even if you (or they) don’t abstain completely, you’ll still benefit from cutting back.
The Healthiest NA Beers
Again, Sober October isn’t all about deprivation. You can still drink a really good beer—just without the alcohol. While NA wines and spirits still have a ways to go (at least in our experience), many beer manufacturers have perfected their craft (or have gotten pretty close) to entice beer enthusiasts. Years ago, you might have been lucky to find one six-pack of dusty NA beer in the back of a cooler. Most were considered fairly flavorless, lacking much in the way of style diversity or craftsmanship.
Likely because up to 20% of consumers now choose no- or low-alcohol beverages, you can find full coolers of non-alcoholic beers filled—top to bottom—with these better-for-you options.
Here are just some of the healthiest NA beers available as well as some information on which one(s) might work for specific tastes.
- – Can’t decide between a refreshing glass of water and an ultra-light, crisp, and refreshing beer? Suntory All-Free is a beer alternative from the Tokyo-Musashino Brewery in Japan, which has been brewing beers since 1963.
Surprisingly, the All-Free beer alternative provides no calories, no sugar, and no alcohol, so you can enjoy one anytime, day or night, without risk of impairment or excess calories. Because it’s calorie-free, expect something that’s more like a sparkling water with a hint of hops. It’s often described as really refreshing and light, so it easily comes out as one of the healthiest NA beers with no risk of weighing you down.
– Athletic Brewing Co Lite is a light, non-alcoholic brew with just 25 calories and 5 g of carbs with less than .5% alcohol by volume. According to the company, it’s brewed specifically for the “sport of life.”
– If you want a classic flavor, you can now grab a Coors Edge, a non-alcoholic brew that tastes quite a bit like the original Coors Light but with just 45 calories, 8 g of carbs, and .5% ABV.
– Athletic Brewing Upside Down Golden provides a classic, balanced, light-body crafted brew with just 45 calories and 10 g of carbs. Bonus: it’s crafted to remove gluten if that’s something you avoid.
– If you want a Mexican-inspired light copper beer, you can pick up Athletic Brewing Co Cerveza Atletica Copper. This cerveza is another perfect brew for summer, with just 60 calories and 15 g of carbs.
– Athletic Brewing Co Run Wild is a session-able IPA made for craft beer lovers with 65 calories and 16 g carbs. Or grab their Free Wave Hazy IPA made with Amarillo, Citra, and mosaic hops. Because it’s NA, you can grab a couple for the road as it contains just 70 calories and 16 g of carbs, perfect for your next bike ride or hike.
– Heineken 0.0 has absolutely no alcohol but more flavor than you might expect from a healthy NA beer due to their unique brewing and vacuum distillation alcohol-removal process. You can easily kick back and enjoy one (or more), especially since they’re just 69 calories per bottle.
– If you think you have to choose a light or hoppy beer to save on calories, think again. The iconic Guinness 0.0 stout now comes with a 0.05% ABV that, due to its new cold filtration process, contains a mere 70 calories. Pour it into a glass to enjoy the legendary dark, opaque color you’ve come to expect, with a thick, full, creamy head and notes of coffee and chocolate with a base of dark roasted grains similar to the original, though it does feel a little lighter. (Yes, they’re even still canned with the famous nitrogen ball.)
– Weihenstephaner offers an award-winning wheat beer that provides robust wheat flavor without the alcohol using their falling film evaporation technique, developed with the Technical University of Munich-Weihenstephan. This 75-calorie German beer isn’t as easy to come by, but it’s worth picking up if you can find it.
– Brooklyn Special Effects offers a bright, hoppy IPA with crisp citrus flavors that’s just 79 calories, 16.5 g of carbs, and 2 g of protein under .5% ABV.
– Especially in winter months, you may want to reach for a richer, bolder beer like this stout-inspired brew Athletic Brewing Co All Out Dark that offers a velvety craft with notes of roasted nuts and dark coffee. It’s a bit higher in calories (90) and carbs (21 g), so you may want to sip a little more slowly.
– Brooklyn Special Effects Hoppy Amber provides hints of grapefruit with none of the buzz at less than .4% ABV. It’s a tad higher in calories than others on the list, with 102 per serving with 22 g of carbs, evident by its sweeter flavor.
– Another full-flavored dark NA beer is the Oatmeal Dark from Bravus, with smooth caramel, roasted coffee, and chocolate tones. This rich beer is one of the higher calorie options with 110 calories, 25 g carbs, and 1 g protein, but if you love a good stout for dessert, this one won’t leave you wanting.
If you like seasonal beers, keep an eye on Athletic Brewing. All their options are NA (with less than .5% alcohol by volume), and they come out with limited releases. Some of the latest beers include:
- A traditional Bavarian Oktoberfest (70 calories, 16 g carbs)
- Pumpkin & spice festive fall brew Dark & Gourdy (70 calories, 16 g carbs)
- Refreshing red IPA Sunset Stroke (85 calories, 20 g carbs)
- Belgian-style Wit’s Peak with classic wheat and malt flavors with tones of coriander and orange (65 calories, 15 g carbs)
- A crisp and refreshing Layback Lime & Salt (30 calories, 6 g of carbs) that’s perfect for a hot summer day
- And the smooth, rich autumn brown Stump Jump (80 calories, 18 g of carbs)
Another brewery that’s gaining a big reputation for its NA brews is Brew Dog. Brew Dog even offers a Sober October Bundle on their website, featuring Elvis AF (35 calories, 2 g carbs) and Hazy AF (54 calories, 2.6 g carbs). Other beers include Punk AF (63 calories, 3 g carbs), Nanny State (27 calories, 1.2 g carbs), and Lost AF (56 calories, 2.6 g carbs).
And if none of the above seems to suit your tastes, you have dozens of other options. Depending on how much you “indulge,” you might need more than a year to work your way through them all. Suffice it to say, the landscape for the healthiest NA beers has rapidly transformed to provide options for every type of beer drinker whether it’s Sober October or any other time of the year.