While the idea of an almost totally alcohol-free beer-like substance is largely mocked, it saved a number of breweries during the dark days of Prohibition.
Called “non-alcoholic beer” in Australia, near beer raised its head during Prohibition. By law it could only have no more than half of one per cent alcohol, so you’d need to drink an awful lot to get a buzz going. But hey, when real beer is illegal,
I guess you’ll take whatever substitutes you can find.
Anheuser-Busch (those guys behind Budweiser) put out the awfully-named Bevo, Miller had Vivo and – amusingly for Australians who grew up on a similarly-named product – Milo. Clearly it was also the law that all near beer names had to end in an O.
The process of making near beer was simple – either keep boiling the wort during the brewing until you’ve burned off most of the alcohol or just water down a low-alcohol beer.
What’s the go here?: For those who have just stumbled across this post, I’m going through the Oxford Companion to Beer (OCB) and posting an entry for every letter. Why? Because I have a copy at home but hadn’t really gone through it page by page and I figured this would be an exercise that would force me to do that.