The Rise of Non-Alcoholic Beer

A few years ago there was nothing in the alcohol free aisle but shloer. Nowadays, there's ales, IPAs, lagers and stouts. But why this new interest?

The alcohol-free section in your local supermarket used to consist of some Becks Blue and Shloer. Now, there’s almost as much range as there is with the real thing. What’s more, alcohol free beer is being advertised on bus stops; its being promoted in bars (read about my experience in Brewdog here); and it’s quickly losing its social stigma. Whilst dry January must be a factor, there must be more significant and long-lasting changes that are driving this seismic market shift.

Across the world, average alcohol consumption is falling, as this study shows. People are drinking less than they have done for years; in 2005 18% of UK 16-25 year olds said they’d never touched a drop. By 2015, this had risen to 29%, and we can assume it’s risen more still since.

In 2018, Britons spent £43m on no and low alcohol beers, an increase of 28% than the year previous. This is inspiring more and more brands to entered the sector, and in turn making it more lucrative still; 2017 was the year that Heineken and Budweiser, two of the largest beer brands, released their own no/low alcohol beverages, and since then a plethora of others have followed suit.

The reason for this is likely to do with increased concern for personal health. In our current era of wellness, intensive diets and gym cultures, the paunched figure of the beer drinker seems quite old hat. The government’s campaigning against smoking and drinking must finally have worn us down, with many compelled by surprising statistics about alcohol’s high calorific content and its links to a whole range of diseases and cancers.

But a more surprising reason for the increased presence of non-alcoholic beers, and its worldwide skyrocketing valuation, is its popularity in countries where alcohol is either banned, highly taboo or against religious practices. According to the Economist the middle east accounts for almost a third of sales of non-alcoholic beer. In 2012, Iranians drank nearly four times as much of it as they did in 2007! Read the Economist article here.

The Economist argues that beer is becoming popular in these countries because it is an aspirational consumer item. In fact they suggest that, “As a statement of a globalised lifestyle beer, even if non-alcoholic, may be more potent than Coca-Cola.”

With non alcoholic beer rising in popularity both at home and abroad, alcoholic drink brands have found a rising market amid their slowly decaying industry. And with increased popularity, comes increased focus: companies are working to make their non-alcoholic offerings as tasty as possible, which can only be good for consumers looking to boost their health.

Join In

Comments (13)

  • if they can sell fruit flavored seltzer, why not hops flavor?

      1 year ago
    • Well exactly. I wonder if there’ll be some beer companies lobbying to stop these non-alcies using the word ‘beer’

        1 year ago
  • Another step towards the decline of civilisation 😉

      1 year ago
  • i love non-alcoholic beers!

      1 year ago
  • Aging population.

    My Medical Doctor brother is constantly advising patients to give up the sauce.

    Non alcoholic beer and wine is quite refreshing.

    We had sips of non alcoholic wine with cheese , crackers and olives as kids.

    It's quite peaceful and pleasant.

      1 year ago
    • that sounds idyllic john. Do you still drink it these days?

        1 year ago
    • Not for years, James.

      It's pretty much just plain water and cups of tea all day.

      I reside with my M. D. brother.

      Read more
        1 year ago
  • The aim of drinking too often seems to be to get drunk, not actually enjoy it in a sensible and perfectly enjoyable quantity. Non-alcoholic drinks help put drinking back in its rightful place.

    That said, the kind of people who flaunt that they're having nonalcoholic drinks are probably not the kind of people you want to wind the day down with.

      1 year ago
    • Yeah sometimes it’s nice to enjoy a beer without the associated effects! As a way to reduce intake they’re great, especially for mid week mealtimes

        1 year ago
    • Personally, I reckon that's what ginger beer is for.

        1 year ago