| How are non-alcoholic malt beverages brewed? Is Clausthaler completely alcohol-free? What is special about the patented Clausthaler brewing process? What is the difference between Clausthaler and diet beer?
How are non-alcoholic malt beverages brewed?
Like all beers in Germany, non-alcoholic brews and reduced-alcohol beers are brewed with only water, barley (malt) and hops in strict accordance with the German Beer Purity Decree of 1516. Of course, we know today that yeast is also a necessary and important ingredient, but in 1516, the importance of yeast was not yet understood. Other malt types, most importantly wheat, are now also allowed, but only for top-fermented beers (ales).
Specialized processes are required to brew non-alcoholic malt beverages. There are only two such processes in general use and the two processes differ greatly: Either the brewing process is controlled so that only a small amount of alcohol can be produced, or some or all of the alcohol is simply removed from conventionally brewed beer.
Alcohol can be removed from beer after brewing by the dialysis or reverse-osmosis method. Conventionally brewed beer passes through by a partially permeable membrane under its own pressure (dialysis) or mechanically boosted pressure (reverse-osmosis). Water flows across the other side of the membrane. Because of the natural tendency to balance differential pressures, alcohol passes through the membrane, separating it from the beer.
Is Clausthaler completely alcohol-free?
No, in spite of or because of, all our knowledge and all our technical proficiency, we know that a minimal quantity of alcohol must be produced to create a good tasting non-alcoholic malt beverage. The alcohol content of Clausthaler is 0.45 (or 0.30 for Clausthaler Golden Amber) % vol, which lies below the 0.5 % vol maximum alcohol content specified in the statutes as the definition of "non-alcoholic", "dealcoholized", or "alcohol-removed". In Great Britain, the term "alcohol-free" may only be used for products with not more than 0.05 % vol detectable alcohol content.
In the United States, the term "alcohol-free" may only be used for products with no detectable alcohol content. 0.45 (or 0.25*) % vol is such a small quantity that many other food products contain similar alcohol quantities. Nearly all fruit juices all have traces of alcohol. In Germany, grape juice is officially allowed to contain up to 1.0 % vol alcohol and soft drinks may contain up to 0.3 % vol alcohol.
Alcohol content of various foodstuffs
|Clausthaler Classic||0.45 % vol|
|Clausthaler Extra Herb||0.45 % vol|
|Clausthaler Radler||0.25 % vol|
|Clausthaler Hefeweizen||0.45 % vol|
|Apple juice||0.1 – 0.38 % vol|
|Grape juice||0.15 – 1.0 % vol|
|Sauerkraut||0.20 – 0.80 % vol|
|Rye bread||0.34 % vol|
|German chocolate cake||0.62 % vol|
What is special about the patented Clausthaler brewing process?
Brewing a good-tasting non-alcoholic malt beverage is an awesome challenge for brewers. Some brewers experimented with special types of yeast. Others attempted to stop fermentation at just the right point. And still others tried to remove the alcohol from finished regular beer.
Clausthaler went up a completely new path. A patented brewhouse process based on the German Purity Law of 1516 ensures that little fermentable maltose is produced. Clausthaler Premium is then fermented with perfectly normal beer yeast that has been individually cultured for the brand. As there is little maltose available in the wort, the yeast can only produce a tiny amount of alcohol but it produces plenty of the full-bodied, flavorsome taste that characterizes a good brew.
What is the difference between Clausthaler and diet beer?
Diet beer brewing processes feature special fermentation methods that ensure extremely high attenuation. That is, the available carbohydrates in the form of malt sugars are almost completely converted to alcohol and CO2 during fermentation. This results in an extremely low residual carbohydrate content and a low physiological calorific value of only around 32 calories (133 kJ) per 100 ml. Diet beer has nearly no residual sugar but approximately the same alcohol content as a comparable "normal" beer.