Paleo Beer (Grain Free, Non-Alcoholic)
Updated: Mar 3
Here's a paleo-friendly alternative for the times when you kinda want a cold one.
For the printable recipe PDF click here.
So I've been thinking a lot about Oktoberfest--that time of the year when we don our dirndls and lederhosen, stuff our faces with sauerkraut and schnitzel, and, traditionally, drink a lot of beer.
But what if beer is out? Beer is typically brewed from grains, usually wheat and/or barley, which are not included in a strict paleo lifestyle. While many paleo people allow for a little dietary off-roading, most avoid having too much alcohol because of its negative impact on health.
Of course, there are some gluten-free beer options, as well as naturally gluten-free types of alcohol such as hard cider or red wine, but if you are strictly grain-free and/or alcohol-free, there aren't a lot of options that scream "Oktoberfest!"
While it's easy enough to replace wine with something like tart fruit juice, beer doesn't have such an obvious replacement. Recently, the market has been flooded with nonalcoholic beers that could make decent stand-ins for those avoiding or reducing their alcohol consumption, but most of them contain grains, and the really interesting ones are super pricy.
The good news is that now there is an easy, fun, homemade option with all natural ingredients, no artificial sweeteners, and absolutely no grains.
I wanted to create something that would replicate the look of beer, with all the fizziness and just a hint of roasty sweetness like a German Marzen/Oktoberfest-style brew. Now, if you are a serious beer enthusiast, you are going to need to temper you're expectations. There's only so much maltiness that can be achieved in a paleo setting. And as far as hops go, let's just say I was trying to keep things simple--Oktoberfest brews tend to be less hop-forward than other brews like pale ales anyway.
With these goals in mind, I made an easy syrup of water and molasses (for color, sweetness, and a hint of bitterness) and steeped some fresh ginger and a cinnamon stick in it (for added interest). The ginger and cinnamon might not be traditional in an Oktoberfest beer, but they have numerous health benefits, including antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, and they lend great natural flavors. In fact, the monsters call this beverage "gingerbread fizzy," and gingerbread definitely has German connotations.
The syrup needs to be strained and chilled in the fridge after steeping and can be made several days in advance in desired.
To serve, add one tablespoon of the molasses syrup to a cold pint glass and fill the glass up with club soda, no stirring necessary!
While it's unlikely you'll mistake this beverage for the real thing, for paleo dieters and beer drinkers with an open mind, this recipe is definitely a good choice to replace traditional beers. In fact, low-carb non-alcoholic drinks in general can be a very good idea for any diet plan geared toward avoiding weight gain, as alcohol contains a whopping 7 calories per gram, compared to 4 grams each for protein and carbohydrates.
Now, just to be clear, while a great addition to a healthy diet, this "beer" is not Whole30-friendly, due to both the added sugars in the molasses and the "pancake rule." Your best bet for a Whole30 is probably plain 'ole sparkling mineral water.
The best thing is that beyond Oktoberfest, this non-alcoholic beer recipe can be converted into a delicious Caribbean-style mocktail with the addition of lime juice or lime-flavored soda water. If you are looking for non-alcoholic beverages to replace your nightly glass of wine or afternoon cocktail, this is a great go-to! The refreshing lime flavor makes it a fun replacement for white wine, sparkling wine, or your favorite summer drinks. Now you can kick back and have a good time by the pool without getting anywhere near the legal limit--what a win!
Here's what you'll need:
For the surup:
1 cup water
1 1/2 inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into coins
1 stick cinnamon
club soda or seltzer water, about 2 cups per serving
Here's what you'll do:
Add all the syrup ingredients to a small saucepan, stir to dissolve the molasses, and simmer over medium heat for about 20 minutes, lowering the heat if necessary to keep at just a simmer, not a full boil.
Allow mixture to cool and strain through a sieve into a mason jar or another airtight container. Store, covered, in the fridge until thoroughly chilled and ready to use.
To serve, add 1 T chilled syrup mixture to a pint glass and top with club soda.
For the printable recipe PDF click here.