How Old Do You Have to Be to Buy Non Alcoholic Beer?
Non alcoholic beer has become a popular alternative to classic beer. The good news is that most states legally differentiate between beer and non alcoholic beer.
Naturally, you’d think that buying non alcoholic beer would be the same as buying water or soda. After all, the ingredient that causes intoxication has been removed from the drink. But that isn’t always the case.
In this post, we’re going to look at whether one can buy non alcoholic beer if they’re under the legal drinking age.
Buying Non Alcoholic Beer
So, how old do you have to be to buy non alcoholic beer?
The answer to that question isn’t so cut and dry.
The legal age for purchasing non alcoholic beer varies depending on your jurisdiction. And even if you can purchase non alcoholic beer under 21, some store policies prohibit the sale of non alcoholic beverages for other reasons.
In the United States, alcohol laws are set on the state level. Since 1988, the minimum legal drinking age has been 21 in all 50 states and Washington, DC. This is why restaurants, bars, and stores won’t sell alcohol to anyone under 21.
Bear in mind that the legal drinking age and the age of majority aren’t the same thing in the United States. You’re not considered a minor when you turn 18. That’s when you can enter into contracts, join the armed services, and do most adult-related things… except purchase alcohol.
But what about non alcoholic beverages?
For a beer to be labeled non alcoholic, it needs to have an alcohol content lower than 0.5%. Most non alcoholic beer, with the exception of zero-alcohol/alcohol-free beer, has traces of alcohol in it that’s leftover from the brewing process. Keep in mind that this isn’t enough alcohol to cause intoxication. And your body will metabolize it faster than you can drink it, so chugging several nolo beers to catch a buzz won’t work.
The good news is that most states legally differentiate between beer and non alcoholic beer. In these states, a beverage isn’t defined as beer unless it has a minimum of 0.5% ABV. Therefore, non alcoholic beer isn’t legally defined as beer and is treated the same as soda.
How old do you have to be to buy non alcoholic beer in Georgia?
You must be 21 to buy non alcoholic beer in Georgia.
Georgia is one of the few states that doesn’t distinguish between beer and non alcoholic beer. That’s because Georgia has a broader definition of beer, which they classify as a “malt beverage” created through the fermentation of hops, barley, malt, and other similar grains. This loose definition of beer means that, in Georgia, alcoholic beer is viewed the same as regular beer. Therefore, under Georgia law, non alcoholic beer can only be purchased by people 21 years or older.
How old do you have to be to buy non alcoholic beer in Texas and Illinois?
You can buy non alcoholic beer in Texas and Illinois if you’re under 21, but there’s a caveat.
Both Texas and Illinois legally acknowledge the difference between beer and non alcoholic beer, but both types of beer must adhere to the states’ beer franchise laws. This doesn’t restrict the sale of beer to people under 21, but it does regulate the distribution of non alcoholic beer. This could make it harder for people under 21 to purchase non alcoholic beer depending on distribution agreements and store policies.
What other states have laws regarding the purchase of non-alcoholic beer by those under 21?
In addition to Georgia, there are three other U.S. states that strictly ban the purchase and consumption of non-alcoholic beer by individuals under 21. In New York, Tennessee, and Idaho you will not be permitted to buy NA beer unless you are over the age of 21. In these states, traditional alcoholic beer is considered one in the same as NA beer that has an abv below 0.5%.
While the laws regarding the purchase and consumption of non-alcoholic beer are often murky and undefined, there are many states that have exceptions regarding the consumption of traditional alcoholic beer for those under 21. In these instances, these exceptions would also, at the very least, apply to those looking to consume NA beer.
“Always research what is legal in your state to ensure that you aren’t being unlawful by purchasing or consuming non-alcoholic beer.”
If you can’t purchase NA beer under the age of 21, are you permitted to consume it?
Again, the laws can be kind of confusing, but they are determined by each individual state. Because many states do not have laws that specifically differentiate between standard alcoholic beer and NA beer, you may come across the inability to enter bars or liquor stores if you are under the age of 21. This would, of course, prevent you from the opportunity to purchase non-alcoholic beer from these establishments.
However, that doesn’t mean that your state prevents you from being able to consume those NA beers, particularly if they are purchased by your parent or legal guardian. Some states will only permit you to drink non-alcoholic beer if you are in the presence of your parent. For others, the only requirement is that they are the ones who provided you with the NA beer, but you don’t have to be with them to drink it. There are too many states and exceptions to go into the details of each, but look up what is legal in your state to ensure that you aren’t doing anything unlawful by consuming non-alcoholic beer.
Which states have exceptions regarding the consumption of beer if you are not 21 years of age?
It is easier and shorter to list the states who strictly prohibit the consumption of beer by those under 21 in any and all circumstances. There are only five states in which individuals under the age of 21 are never allowed to consume beer. Those states are Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, New Hampshire, and West Virginia. Note that the laws and exceptions I am speaking of are regarding traditional alcoholic beer. But it’s safe to say that if there are exceptions for alcoholic beer, they also apply to NA beer that is under 0.5%.
It is best to check with your specific state when looking for these exceptions, but there are a number of reasons that someone under 21 might be permitted to consume alcohol. For instance, there are 11 states that allow individuals under 21 to consume alcohol for educational reasons, such as when acquiring sample for culinary class. There are also 29 states that permit consumption of alcohol by those under 21 as long as they are located at a private residence with parental supervision. Plenty of other exceptions exist in nearly every state. You should research them on your own to figure out what circumstances make it legal to consume alcoholic or non-alcoholic beer in your state.
“The majority of states have a legal definition of beer that doesn’t include non alcoholic brews.”
Numerous states allows people under 21 to purchase non alcoholic beer. With that being said, there are still challenges you may face if you try to buy non alcoholic beer and you’re underage.
While one can legally purchase non alcoholic beer at any age in numerous states, many stores have policies prohibiting it. This may be because they don’t want to encourage underage drinking or because their point of sale system simply flags all beer––even non alcoholic beer––as an age-restricted item when scanned.
One of the most common reasons for this store policy is to minimize human error. Shop owners don’t want to run the risk of accidentally selling alcoholic beer to customers under 21, so they adopt a blanket approach that requires ID for beer and non alcoholic beer alike. This type of store policy is especially common at liquor stores and franchise businesses, like gas stations and grocery store chains.
You don’t have to be a specific age to buy non alcoholic beer in numerous states. These states have a legal definition of beer that doesn’t include non alcoholic brews, so you can legally purchase and drink a Run Wild IPA or Gruvi Stout regardless of whether you’re 21 or not. But you may encounter places that don’t sell non alcoholic beer to people under 21.
If you meet your states requirements and want to buy NA beer, but there aren’t many stores where you live that have them in stock, check out our friends at nanobar. They have a huge selection of NA beer options. You’d be surprised just how easy it is to get delicious non alcoholic beer delivered straight to your door.