What's the Deal with Non-Alcoholic Craft Beers?

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We’ve got some great news out there for our beer lovers who are pregnant, prioritizing their health and fitness, committing to dry January, or volunteering to DD. The market is embracing your non-alcoholic needs and preferences. 

Non-Alcoholic Beer is Trending

Non-alcoholic beer—abbreviated “NA”—is currently a fast-growing segment in the beer market. Whoever thought we’d see the day. 

This trend is showing no signs of disappearing either. The NA beer market is expected to grow by double digits over the next few years. 

In the past few years, brands dedicated exclusively to non-alcoholic craft beer have joined the scene. And beer giants have also started pouring money into NA and low alcohol beers. In particular, Anheuser Busch InBev, has set the goal to make 20 percent of its beer volume no or low alcohol by 2025. Samuel Adams has jumped into the race as well. 

Jim Koch, founder and brewer of Samuel Adams said, “I may have once said that we would never brew a non-alcoholic beer, but I’ve learned over the years never to say never…The NA category has been both fascinating to watch and a unique brewing challenge…I’m extremely proud to enter the NA race, and we’re ready to take it to the top.”

What's non-alcoholic beer, exactly? 

Wondering what's in non-alcoholic beer? Legally, it can’t contain more than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume. (For comparison’s sake, Kombucha also contains less than 0.5 percent alcohol.) Even with just trace amounts of alcohol, it’s not all that uncommon to get carded when you’re buying NA beer.  

How to make NA beer is far from standard. In the past, the best methods were either to heat up the alcohol or to filter the alcohol out after it's brewed and then re-carbonate the beer. 

However, the top NA brewers are adopting their own processes. And the great news is that they're delivering hazy, IPA, and dark non-alcoholic beers with flavors that rival their alcoholic counterparts. Named by Fast Company Magazine as one of the “World’s Most Innovative” companies in 2020, Athletic Brewing Co. is an example of an NA brewer holding its cards close to the vest. 

“Our processes are totally different from what anyone else is doing,” says owner Bill Shufelt, “We intend to keep it that way.” 

The company holds a large share of the NA market and has high-profile athlete investors, like Lance Armstrong and JJ Watt. They've also had an edge throughout COVID because they can ship NA beers directly to customers across the country. By contrast, shipping alcoholic beers directly to customers is prohibited. 

Companies like Athletic Brewing Co. are catering to health-conscious, young people and weekend warriors who want the taste of beer without the hangover. Companies are sponsoring beach volleyball tournaments, marathons, and the like. They're also finding consumers who want to enjoy a couple of beers and then taper off as the day goes on. 

We love that our brewers are anxious to meet the needs of all kinds of consumers, and we’re digging the innovation in the NA space. The more options to enjoy great beer flavor, the better. 

Want to talk about NA trends and innovation? Come see us and check out what's on tap and in our shop. 

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Category: Beer