In the United States Common term for low-alcohol and alcoholic Beverages. The origin is in the 18th constitutional amendment passed in 1919, which in the so-called "National Prohibition Act" all drinks with more than 0.5% alcohol content defined as "intoxicating drinks": The act defined intoxicating liquor as any beverage containing more than 0.5% alcohol by volume and superseded all existing prohibition laws in effect in states that had such legislation. This was the basis for the one valid from 1920 to 1933 prohibition (Prohibition).
The law already affected beer (with an average of 4 to 5% vol). The large breweries switched over and produced a malt drink, which however could not be called "malt beer" because the use of the term "beer" was fundamentally prohibited at the time. Officially, it was called "cereal beverage". As a trivial name, "Near Beer" ("almost like a beer") prevailed.
Before the prohibition, there were several thousand breweries in the United States. Of these, only large breweries remained after 1933 that dealt with the production of Near Beer had kept afloat. Well-known producers with their brands were Anheuser-Busch with "Bevo", Budweiser with "Near Beer", Pabst Brewing Company with "Pablo", Stroh with "Lux-o", Miller with "Vivo" and Joseph Schlitz with "Famo".