The science of alcohol
The science of alcohol

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

3.1 The history of alcohol-free beers

You may be surprised to hear that the origins of non-alcohol beer date back to medieval Europe. These brews (‘small beer’) were made for everyday consumption by the working classes as a safer substitute for often polluted water, with just enough alcohol present to kill bacteria. Beer was viewed as a more nutritious alternative to water and was often part of a worker’s daily pay.

The true origins, however, of the brewing of alcohol-free beer can be dated back to 1919 in the USA. During this time of the Temperance movement, alcoholic drinks that contained more than 0.5% ABV were banned from production, importation, transportation and sale.

In the face of this ban, breweries were forced to produce a different type of beer that was very pale, not so flavourful and just 0.5% ABV. So, in other words, what we would refer to today as either non-alcoholic or alcohol-free beer.

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371