When you live in San Diego, the craft beer capital of the world, beer tasting becomes woven into the fabric of your social life. My husband and I would go check out new breweries and taste lineups of sours or Flemish style ales, not to mention big IPAs. With friends we’d picnic at Stone Brewery, celebrate at Ballast Point, or take our dog to Coronado Beer Company. We homebrewed and we went to game nights where a new craft beer was always on tap. This all matched my enthusiasm for wine as well, which equally called for visits to the Mexican wine valley. For a long time, my identity was rooted in considering myself a wine and craft beer connoisseur.
But a few years ago, I started getting sober curious.
Non-alcoholic beer has long had a negative stigma associated with it. When ordering or indulging in an NA beer, one might get questioned:
“Does that taste like beer?”
“What’s the point?”
“Isn’t that just wasted calories?”
“Why don’t you get a real beer?”
Like most topics in life, a lack of education leads to ignorance, so I cannot blame society at large for not understanding the innate value that these unique beverages can bring to individuals and to the world as a whole. It all starts with recognizing the global significance and potential impact NA beer has on people of all walks of life, all over the world. NA beer is not only “real beer”, it is a global movement. A movement I like to call “The NAB Effect”.
Most people don’t associate sobriety or mindfulness with Las Vegas. The city of sin has done a good job of cultivating a very specific narrative of blackout partying thanks to movies like The Hangover and the “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” motto.
When I moved back home to Las Vegas I was about 6 weeks dry and I was surprisingly calm. Because I’d grown up in Southern Nevada, I knew that there was so much more than long drunken casino nights to be had--plentiful hiking and a vibrant downtown arts scene are just some of the perks offered in this supportive and progressive desert community.
One thing I was worried about however was what to drink. Sounds silly, I know, but after years of unwinding with alcohol after the workday, I needed to be diligent about creating new habits. Over the next two years I restocked the areas in our kitchen that would have held alcohol in our past life and instead filled them with alcohol-free alternatives.
For all the beer snobs out there, here’s a quick quiz: What’s the fastest-growing category of beer? Is it IPAs? Sours? Some European brew with a name you don’t know how to say?
Nope. The fastest-growing beer segment is… non-alcoholic beer. That’s right, O’Doul’s die-hards: According to recent research, non-alcoholic beer sales grew 3.9% last year while boozy beer sales grew just 0.2%.
Today, non-alcoholic beer accounts for just 5% of overall beer consumption. But AB InBev, the largest beer company in the world, plans for 20% of its beer sales to be low or non-alcoholic by 2025.
I'm finally no longer embarrassed to say I don't drink - in fact I'm proud of it. And as time goes on, I realise that more and more other people are interested in how to do it too. And if you've just finished dry January and are considering staying away from alcohol, you might be one of them.
The health risks of alcohol are becoming so much more evident to us these days. Alcohol is linked to seven forms of cancer, including breast cancer and bowel cancer - the less you drink, the lower your risk. A bit like smoking really…
Alcohol can contribute to diabetes, heart disease and pancreatitis, as well as liver disease and mental health issues. But we're finally getting more clued in. The tide is beginning to turn - even here in Ireland. With big breweries such as Guinness, Heineken and Budweiser all bringing out new zero per cent alcohol beers, as well as independents like Brew Dog joining in, you know there has been serious thought put into how the market is changing.
For decades, non-alcoholic beer and its thin, acidic tastehasoffended the very idea of beer. But now, craft breweries focused solely on beer without booze are producing pints worth toasting. The Runner's World staff rounded up the most promising options—from a legit IPA to a creamy stout—for anyone seeking beer sans buzz. These are our five favorites.
In an effort to attract a growing number of drinkers who are moderating alcohol consumption, several beer companies are looking toward non-alcoholic brews as a way to boost sales and court the 30 percent of U.S. adults who don’t imbibe.
Among major producers, both Heineken and Pabst have recently announced plans to roll out non-alc offerings nationwide in the first quarter of 2019. There’s also an emerging group of startups focused exclusively on crafting alcohol-free libations.
“So, as an early sponsor told me, when you get sober, you are going to try all kinds of things that are new. If some don’t feel right, don’t do them again. I think NA beer is great for some and not for others. I will say if you do have an NA beer and want to drink alcohol beer, call your sponsor! For the others, enjoy. Beer is such a connecting social drink, and I’m thrilled to share some terrific NA craft beer with everyone.”
People hear ‘nonalcoholic beer’ and think the worst,” says Bill Shufelt, co-founder of Athletic Brewing Company and Taproom in Stratford, Connecticut. “The standard commercial production gives you a bland or metallic taste. There hasn’t been a satisfying option with no compromise.”
That may explain why non-alcoholic beer makes up only about 2 percent of the beer market. Shufelt took this as a challenge—and an opportunity: to create beer with no alcohol but so much flavor that anyone would enjoy drinking it.
Published on November 3, 2018 William Shufelt, Founder at Athletic Brewing
You may see Athletic in the news or our beers on the shelves, reflect on some pre-conceived misconceptions about non-alcoholic beer and think, "that's not for me." To be honest, there is such a stigma against non-alcoholic beer in our country that not many people can imagine NA beer playing a part in their life.