This script is from the second season of Beer Notes, which you can listen to at beernotes.org.

I can’t believe it’s not booze. As the popularity and demand for craft beer continues to rise in the U.S., so too does the demand for nonalcoholic craft beer. This week on Beer Notes, we’re discussing the growing trend of alcohol-free craft beer. 

Worldwide, consumption of alcohol fell 1.6% in 2018, according to data from IWSR. Traditionally, it’s Americans age 65 and older who drink less alcohol – according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, only 40% of that age group consumes alcohol – but lately, craft beer’s target demographic has been drinking less, too. 

In 2018, analysts from Bank of America found that 22% of millennials say they’re drinking less, driven primarily by concerns about their health. Unfortunately, traditional nonalcoholic beers like Beck’s and O’Douls have long been stigmatized as flavorless and bland- but now, craft brewers provide a solution to that problem. 

In fact, some craft breweries produce only alcohol-free beer. Connecticut’s Athletic Brewing Co. is one of them; they recently reported that, upon offering a small batch their Double Hop IPA for sale online, it sold out in 32 seconds.

Michael Hayes of Bravus Brewing Company, another nonalcoholic brewery based in California, told NPR, “we can’t make the stuff fast enough.” He attributed the growing popularity of the beer to the growing awareness of high-quality, nonalcoholic beer, along with the public’s changing attitude toward alcohol – that 22% of millennials who are drinking less. 

Nonalcoholic craft beer allows people of any age to continue engaging in the social aspect of drinking beer without the risk of overconsumption. And alcohol-free craft beers range in diversity of style and flavor just as their alcoholic counterparts do: on Untappd, the top alcohol-free craft beers in the U.S. are the Intrepid Traveler Coffee Cream Stout by WellBeing Brewing, the Run Wild IPA by Athletic Brewing Company and the Upside Dawn Golden Ale, also by Athletic Brewing. 

For Beer Notes, this is Ann McGinnis Hillyer.

Kristin Helf
Author: Kristin Helf

Kristin is a writer and picture-taker in Ocean City, Maryland. She likes puppies, pumpkin ales and watching movies for the Ocean City Film Festival in her spare time.

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