Sometimes I have to drive by car after going to a bar. Hence at these times I don't want to drink alcohol (even though driving after drinking a modest amount of alcohol is allowed where I live, I don't want to drink any alcohol at these occasions). However, I like non-alcoholic beer. From taste I cannot always tell the difference between non-alcoholic and alcoholic beer.

Hence, particularly if it's a busy night, the orders might get mixed up and I might get an alcoholic beer by mistake. Basically I see two options:

  • Making it clear at the order that it is important to me that the beer is non-alcoholic.

  • Or, when I get the beer, asking whether it is really non-alcoholic. Both could be taken as criticism, e.g. because I am doubting their ability to remember my order. Also, they might not want to admit if there has been a mistake.

So my question is:

How to make sure to get a non-alcoholic beer in a bar? Bonus points: It should not sound like criticism about the service.

  • 1
    Hi, and welcome to IPS! Has it to be a draft beer? Can't you just order a brand you know? And then easily identify the bottle?
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 18:43
  • @OldPadawan Thanks :-) Usually the beer is served in a glass here. I don't know if it is from a beer barrel or from a bottle. If the latter is the case I might explicitly ask for the bottle, even if this implicitly might sound like I don't trust the service.
    – simplemind
    Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 18:48
  • 2
    @simplemind: correct
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 19:02
  • 1
    I'm torn on this... knowing which product to order doesn't really sound like an interpersonal skill. Knowing how to order in such as way as to get what you want is, however. I think that product recommendations are out of scope here. Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 19:14
  • 4
    I don't think there's an IPS question here. So far the only suggestion that's been thrown out that could be IPS is that someone might have a good phrasing, but phrasing requests are specifically off-topic here
    – Rainbacon
    Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 19:36

2 Answers 2


Tl;Dr: Don't overthink this. Make fun of it, make fun of yourself. And take it easy.

This is strongly dependent on where you are from. I am from Czech Republic, the country that is steadily in top ranks regarding beer consumption per capita. And consider, there are a lot of people that dedicated their drinking career to spirits and those, who dedicated their liver to wine. Drinking beer is as usual here as breathing.

Usualy, the waiter/waitress come to you when you take your place in restaurant and hands you the menu. The other option is you have to go to bar to make your order. In all cases the waiter/bartender knows the list - or should know - so you can ask for a recomendation or for giving you some options.

When in group (this is the only case I go to pubs) where I am the driver we make the order from the beers. Then I ask for non-alcoholic options.

What non-alcoholic beers do you have?
Do you have something for drivers?
Do you have something for the poor souls? [Showing the car keys if needed]

The beers are usually drafted in glases respecting the brands. Some breweries even give different glases for different beers types. Non-alcoholic ones follow such practice. It is slightly harder to swap orders if you are to match glass to the pipe and then to the table.

There are also seldom restaurants having non-alcoholic beer on draft, more likely you will be given a glass and bottle.

In the case you are handed beer instead of non-alcoholic it is a very same faux-pas for the waiter like handing you a espresso instead of flat white, handing you a glass of wine instead of glass of fresh water.

Thank you, but I've ordered [Birel]. Thank you, but I'm driving.

Is a proper way to return the incorrect drink and asking for the one You've ordered.

  • 1
    Here in the Netherlands alcohol-free beer is really taking flight and some of the hipper bars are starting to get it on tap but they are usually very proud of the fact and will have separate glassware. And i concur: if you get one in a non-branded glass it is your right to ask for confirmation "this was the alcohol-free one right?"
    – Borgh
    Commented Oct 11, 2019 at 6:57

Right now I have some health problems, and drinking ANY fermented beverages is not an option for me.

But before being in this situation, I had exactly the same kind of problem.

What I did:

  1. When placing the order, I asked about the availability of non-alcoholic beer.
  2. If they actually had non-alcoholic beer, I ordered that, EXPLICITLY stating that I order it because I have to drive - I even used my hands to show how I control the steering-wheel;
  3. When the order arrived, I verified on the bottle if it was non-alcoholic; typical labeling: "0% alcohol" or "non-alcoholic" - depending on brand, country...
  4. When it happened that I received alcoholic beer instead, I reminded the waiter that I explicitly mentioned that I have to drive, and alcohol is not an option.

In the case of situation 4., it happened only once that the waiter was un-professional and angered. She served me a reply something like:

But this beer does not have a lot of alcohol either.

I do not know what she meant, possibly that vodka and whiskey are higher in alcohol content, but this is already outside of my need to understand.

It should not sound like criticism about the service.

If you mention a reason why you must not drink alcohol, it is not criticism. It would be un-needed criticism to order:

I want non-alcoholic beer, but be careful not to screw the order.

If you receive the alcoholic beer, you have two choices:

  • nicely state that you cannot drink the beer because you have to drive; eventually remind about the comment made during ordering;
  • to be extra "mannered": just leave the bottle on the table without drinking and say nothing. If you do this, the waiter will not have a chance to understand that they need to be a tad more careful about taking and delivering orders.

If you choose the extra "mannered" path, you might want to order additionally some tea, lemonade or whatever, which is guaranteed to be non-alcoholic by definition.

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