Maine-made non-alcoholic beers from Woodland Farms Brewery in Kittery, Kit NA Brewing in Portland and Eighteen Twenty Brewing in Portland. Photo by Caitlin Enz

There are many reasons you might chose a non-alcoholic beer, even if you’re someone who normally drinks alcohol. Maybe you’re participating in dry January, want a refreshing drink but still have a couple of chores to get done, or love beer but not the calories. Maybe, like me, you just need to quench your curiosity.

Whatever it is, Maine has an increasing variety of locally made options that you might ended up liking for more than its lack of alcohol.

First, let’s clarify that non-alcoholic beer is a bit of a misnomer. These beverages do have small amounts of alcohol, lower than 0.5% by volume. On cans, you’ll often see phrasing like “non-alcoholic brew” and “non-alcoholic malt beverage” because, while they use the same ingredients, technically beers contain more than 0.5% of alcohol.

To brew a non-alcoholic beer, there are two main methods: Brewers can manipulate brewing ingredients or aspects of the process to result in a product that’s low in alcohol, or they can distill the beer and then remove the alcohol from it.

Not all Portland beer stores keep non-alcoholic options, but the Bier Cellar on Forest Avenue has a robust selection from near and far. I wanted to try a variety of styles from Maine breweries, so I picked up a few cans from Kit NA Brewing (Portland), Woodland Farms Brewery (Kittery) and Eighteen Twenty Brewing Co. (Portland). Here are my tasting notes:

ON YOUR MARK, Kit NA Brewing


Style: American Blonde

Tasting Notes: Straw colored with light white head. Smells very floral, also smells like white bread, citrus and clementine. Tastes like white bread, citrus, slightly vegetal with a fruity aftertaste. Moderate bitterness.

WEST, Woodland Farms Brewery

Style: West Coast IPA

Tasting Notes: Light gold with a thin white head. Smells like pink grapefruit, citrus, slightly bready. Tastes like pale, sour grapefruit and citrus. Assertive bitterness.

STAND UP AND STOUT, by Eighteen Twenty Brewing Co.


Style: Stout

Tasting Notes: Dark brown with a light brown head. Smells like toasted bread with a hint of coffee and molasses. Tastes like toasted bread, slightly burnt. Assertive bitterness.

In most situations, I personally would choose a beer with alcohol. I love sampling beers with daring adjuncts, such as seaweed or foraged berries. However, in this tasting I learned that there are some solid non-alcoholic options available.

My dad doesn’t drink alcohol, and he was really excited when I showed up for a visit with two new beers for him to try and couldn’t believe they were local.

When drinking Stand Up and Stout, he almost immediately mentioned that it would be great for a sausage-heavy breakfast. He was also very happy with West and described it as a “classic IPA with excellent flavor.” I have two more Woodland Farms nonalcoholic beers in my fridge, and I can’t wait to share them with him.

Caitlin Enz is a Certified Cicerone® who lives in Portland. Follow her on Instagram at @hops_and_brains.

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