If you were invited to a beer-and-pretzels game night, but you’re the designated driver, here are my favorite “non-alcoholic” beers to consider, though technically some of these do have up to 0.5 alcohol by volume (ABV).

Participation in “Dry January” and “Damp January” is on the rise: 22% of Americans participated this year. For each of the last three Januarys, I personally have set aside regular beer at home to drink these non-alcoholic brews instead, which I track and rate on Untappd. These are sorted by my rating, with the global rating across all app users being the tiebreaker. (Good games need tiebreakers.) Anything I rated below 3.0, I personally won’t buy again.

RankBreweryBeer NameTypeABVIBUFlavor ProfileGlobal RatingMy Rating
1Golden Road BrewingMango Cart Non-AlcoholicWheat Beer0.50aromatic, mango, crushable3.515.00
2Grupo ModeloCorona Non-AlcoholicLager0.50light, refreshing3.234.80
3Bravus Brewing CompanyBreakfast DarkPorter / Stout0.50sweet, molasses, coffee, syrupy3.394.50
4Anheuser-BuschO’Doul’s PremiumLager0.25malty, light, sweet, dry2.004.40
5GuinnessGuinness Draught 0.0Porter / Stout0.028roasty, dark, metallic3.164.30
6Molson Coors CanadaCoors EdgeOther0.50malty2.474.30
7Surreal Brewing CompanyPastry PorterPorter / Stout0.50roasty, sweetness, chocolate3.164.20
8Partake BrewingDarkPorter / Stout0.00malty, roasty, thin, chocolate2.804.20
9Athletic Brewing CompanyUpside Dawn GoldenOther0.515clean, crisp3.264.10
10HeinekenHeineken 0.0Lager0.00malty, clean, watery2.434.10
11Athletic Brewing CompanyCerveza Atletica Light CopperLager0.515malty, clean, refreshing3.304.00
12Radeberger GruppeClausthaler Original / PremiumLager0.529malty, light, sweet, dry2.534.00
13Fred Koch BreweryPenn’s Best N.A.Other0.50light, sweet, smooth2.404.00
14Anheuser-BuschSt. Pauli N.A.Lager0.50malty, light, sweet, dry, smooth2.204.00
15Brauerei BeckBeck’s Non-Alcoholic / Alkoholfrei / BlueLager0.312malty, light, sweet2.353.00
16Bravus Brewing CompanyOatmeal DarkPorter / Stout0.50malty, roasty, metallic, body2.792.90
17Athletic Brewing CompanyAll Out Extra DarkPorter / Stout0.510thin, coffee, metallic3.372.50
18GrüviGrüvi StoutPorter / Stout0.40roasty, smoky, thin2.872.25

As to what beer-and-pretzel games to play, I stopped rating games on BoardGameGeek; it’s easier to judge a beer after drinking just one than it is to judge a game after playing it just once, and there’s a lot of games I don’t get the chance to play more than once. (Different players, different strategies, different understandings of the rules can make subsequent plays completely different.) That said, I think beer-and-pretzel games, by definition, are lighter and shorter and therefore hit the table often. So here are my most played light games that I think fit the category:

54Star Fluxx
50One Night Ultimate Werewolf: Daybreak
38Family Fluxx
38Secret Hitler
32One Night Ultimate Werewolf
25Time Breaker
25Nature Fluxx
23King of Tokyo
18Martian Fluxx
15Pirate Fluxx
15Wings of War: Famous Aces
147 Wonders: Architects
13Firefly Fluxx
13Light Speed
13Port Royal
12The Battle for Hill 218
12Early American Chrononauts
11Jump Drive
11Monty Python Fluxx
11Wiz-War (Eighth Edition)
10Doctor Who Fluxx
10Oz Fluxx

For me, it seems, the prototypical beer-and-pretzel game is a “take that” card game or a secret-identity game. BANG! may be the perfect beer-and-pretzel game: “take that”, secret identities, and a beer card!

Bang beer card
Source: The Daily SPUF

While not a true beer-and-pretzel game, Microbrewers, by Greater Than Games, makes my list, because of its beer theme. Formerly known as Brew Crafters: Travel Card Game, it’s my personal favorite game to take to a brewpub. It’s an elegant engine building game about creating the best microbrewer. It’s discontinued, but still available through some retailers. Since it has a small deck, I encourage you to buy yourself two copies so that you don’t have to shuffle as often, and so that you can play with four players without needing to play as teams.

See these BGG pages for some other discussions:

And join the discussion on Dice.camp.


Originally published 2023-02-13. Untappd and BGG stats updated.

iStockPhoto by Paul DeNio.