In recent months, alcohol-free products have flooded the marketplace. From beer and wine to spirits and cocktails, drinkers’ favorite libations are becoming increasingly available with one thing missing – the alcohol. Spurred by the desire to live healthier lifestyles and seek out better-for-you products, innovation driving the non-alcoholic beverage category is at an all‑time high.
When Heineken 0.0 was first released in the summer of 2019, many remarked on how much it tasted like… beer. For so long, people seeking the crisp refreshment of a beer without the alcohol were left with a few, rather flavorless options. The result of a 15-year program by Heineken’s Global Master Brewer Willem van Waesberghe, the taste, feel and genuine character of 0.0 is nothing short of revolutionary.
Heineken has invested heavily in its non-alc offering, including a reported $50 million marketing push when it was launched in 2019. Heineken 0.0 has swiftly become the nation’s top-selling non-alcoholic beer, with more than $54 million in sales in 2020 (compared to $37 million in sales in 2020 for the previous champ, O’Doul’s), according to Chicago-based market research firm IRI, which tracks sales in grocery, convenience, big box and drug stores.
Hot on the heels of the success of Heineken 0.0, many breweries have released their own alcohol-free options like Lagunitas IPNA, BrewDog Hazy AF, Sam Adams Just the Haze and Dogfish Head Lemon Quest. According to Craft Business Daily, non-alc is the third fastest-growing style in craft, trailing only hazy IPA and Imperial/double/triple IPA.
While younger folks, mainly millennials and Gen Z, are the force propelling the non-alc trend, Sam Calagione, co-founder of Dogfish Head, believes the demographic potential is “limitless” and will grow to include people of all ages, drinkers and non-drinkers. When discussing DFH’s non-alcoholic wheat beer Lemon Quest, Calagione explains, “Let’s face it, this is also something that can be enjoyed by folks that might be less than 21 years-old. And some folks who stop or can’t drink alcohol. But I believe strongly that the majority of volume will be, for many years to come, from people who enjoy alcohol… and [are] adding this to their repertoire.”
“Shifts in drinker perceptions and advancements in brewing technology suggest we’re on the brink of a non-alcoholic beer renaissance,”says Jim Koch, co-founder and chairman of Boston Beer Company.