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Near beer

From Academic Kids

Near beer was originally a term for malt beverages with little or no alcohol (one half of one percent or less) mass-marketed during Prohibition in the United States. Legally, these could not be labeled as "beer" and were officially classified as cereal beverages. The public, however, almost universally called them "near beer."

The most popular "near beer" was Bevo, brewed by the Anheuser-Busch company. The Pabst company brewed "Pablo", Miller brewed "Vivo", and Schlitz brewed "Famo". Other brands of near beer included "Chrismo", "Barlo", "Becco", "Bone Dry", "Bravo", "Cero", "Golden Glow", "Gozo", "Graino", "Hoppy", "Kippo", "Lux-O", "Mannah", "Milo", "Mother's Malt", "Mulo", "Ona", "Quizz", "Singo", "Tang", "Tivoline", and "Yip". Many local and regional breweries stayed in business by marketing their own near-beers. By 1921 production of near beer had reached over 300 million US gallons (1 billion L) a year (360 L/s).

A popular illegal practice was to add alcohol to near beer. The resulting beverage was known as spiked beer.

Food critic and writer Waverley Root described the common American near beer as "such a wishy-washy, thin, ill-tasting, discouraging sort of slop that it might have been dreamed up by a Puritan Machiavelli with the intent of disgusting drinkers with genuine beer forever." Some historians of beer attribute the American taste for beers that are lighter and thinner than those that are common in Europe to the effects of the generation who grew accustomed to near beer.

Today the term "near beer" has been revived by some people to refer to modern versions of non-alcoholic beer.

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