| Zero Alcohol Beers - Are They A Joke?
by Chrissy Marie Castle
Hello Bob -
I'm not one to go against trends or dismiss new ideas but (you knew
that was coming) I just don't understand what that "Dry January" was
all about last month. Let me be more specific and candid - I believe
Dry January is bad for beer. It eats into restaurant traffic and bar
sales, and many small businesses suffer or even close.
And yet here I am writing you with the dust and fallout of "Drynuary"
(even the name is dopey) barely settled, drinking as I usually do, but
also getting interested in another strange thing - craft near beer.
I understand that the category’s inroads into beer sales as a whole
are negligible — 0.37 percent of total beer dollar sales was the stat
I saw— it’s impossible to ignore the inching rise of non-alcoholic and
low-alcohol, low-calorie beers. Once I took notice it's like they're all
I actually tried some non-alcoholic craft beers. I had one at a party,
a different one in a bar, and I even bought a six pack of another.
Some are even more than okay. They are what they are and
sometimes,no alcohol is a good thing. I even have friends who are
not buying just one six-pack or one 12-pack but entire cases of it..
From my admittedly limited perspective I predict the market for tasty
near beers will slightly rise — certainly nowhere near the level of
hard seltzer or light lager, not even close — but you’ll be seeing NA
options on your beer bars’ draft lists soon. Those would be good
tings since not only would it offer a respite to your body from the
usual high octane fare,, but would can help beer-centric bars and
restaurants (and maybe even traditional, booze-loving breweries)
sell more drinks
Very recently I read that several “light” craft beers and craft hard
seltzers have hit the market: Deschutes debuted Wowza Lo-Cal Hazy
Pale Ale. Maui Brewing Co. released Mosaic Lite Session IPA. Bell’s
Brewery launched Light Hearted, a 3.7 percent ABV, 110-calorie
version of its Two Hearted Ale in 19.2-ounce stovepipe cans. And
there are many more.
These add to the long list of low-calorie, low-alcohol light craft beers
on the market, and the dozens of craft hard seltzer brands that
continue to roll out across the U.S. All hover around 100 calories
and between 4 and 5 percent ABV. I might just play those numbers
in the lottery.
To me this looks a lot like the session IPA trend. The difference is
calories. Session beers were (and are) marketed as having all the
flavor of craft ales with less alcohol, so one could theoretically drink
them all day without sacrificing deliciousness. Still, the concept of
balancing flavor with sessionability has gone out the window for
straight-up calorie counts. Stuff like that is written on the light craft
labels themselves, many of which prioritize phrases like “99 Calories”
or “Low Cal. High Haze.” on the package more than the brewery or
beer name itself.
Don't get me wrong. Lower-alcohol, lower-calorie beers, don't reflect
what American beer consumers are buying. I saw that sales of
higher-alcohol craft beers 7 % ABV and up grew around 10 % last
year while “sessionable,” low-alcohol brands barely grew at all.
What I am saying is that there is a place for all levels of alcohol in
beer. And I enjoy both at different times. I guess it's the best of
Hope you like my article and decide to print it. I always look forward
to reading "Bob & Friends" and it would be fun to see my thoughts
actually appear on BeerNexus. Thanks!
Thanks Chrissy for your article. I enjoyed reading it. I found your take
on NA and zero beers most interesting and informative. I'm glad we
could publish your article.
I'd like to invite everyone to send me their own columns about anything
related to beer in any way just as Chrissy did. I select the best and
publish them here. So join in and get writing!
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