In years past when I participated in “Dry January,” my yearly reset never imagined I would be drinking non-alcoholic craft beer or spirits. Then, it was water, Coke Zero and juices. However, in the past few years, non-alcoholic drinks have become more mainstream.
But just how big is the industry? If you believe the numerous stories across the media this month, it must be huge. I mean the category has nearly doubled in IRI-tracked chain retail for “volume” in just over six years.
Yet, according to Good Beer Hunting’s Bryan Roth, the category still ranks last out of the 16 high-level style categories tracked in retail stores. It might move to #15 in 2022 ahead of “Dark Ale,” but has no shot at #14, which is a grouping of porter/stout, he added.
“Non-alcoholic beer will never be a big part of the market in terms of volume or dollars,” said Roth. “But it will be an important and a valued alternative that lots of people enjoy. Breweries are making great effort to expand the kind of flavors people can get from these brands, which makes a world of difference.”
Roth, who is the News Editor for Good Beer Hunting, said he believes non-alcoholic beer will continue to grow as more brands enter the market. But with it not close to 1% of the beer market, the growth needs to be put into perspective.
“Media stories that sweep publications each January do not keep this in context, so the category can easily seem bigger than it is,” he said. ”The change of flavors and number of brands is great — and a necessary evolution of the American beer market — but non-alcoholic beer will never be in the U.S. what it is for England, Spain, or Germany, which all have drastically different drinking cultures and relationships with alcohol in daily lives.”
Bravus Brewing founder Philip Brandes said the non-alcoholic industry has been gaining a lot of traction and attention recently, but is still faces an awareness issue.
“Ultimately, many will look at you funny when you mention a beer being non-alcoholic until they try it,” he said during our Q&A Videocast. “You really have to get the awareness out and fight the stigma that’s been associated with NA beer.”
Brandes said he’s excited to see what the future can bring for the category and said there are some great things ahead.
Roth and fellow Good Beer Hunting writer Kate Bernot will be diving into the category with a deeper analysis soon. To check out their work, visit https://www.goodbeerhunting.com/sightlines (which is a must read).