I’ve aways been a beer drinker. In my youth, when I valued quantity over quality, I wasn’t terribly discerning. Budweiser…National Bohemian…Coors Light: it was all the same to me. Back then, Corona with a lime qualified as upscale.
Around the time I hit 40, however, I discovered that hangovers in midlife weren’t nearly as much fun as they used to be. Had I still been living in the U.S., I might have elected to swap beer for pot, as many of my American friends have done. But marijuana isn’t legal in the UK. Plus, in the immortal words of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, “I like beer.”
So I needed a solution, one that would enable me to keep drinking beer without getting drunk. That’s when I began drinking low-alcohol beer (LAB), and its even milder cousin, no-alcohol beer (NAB). LAB is typically classified as having no more than 2.5% alcohol by volume (ABV), while NAB tops out at 0.5%.
When I first started drinking low alcohol beer a decade or so ago, the pickings were slim…and bland. It all tasted kind of watery. Fast forward a few years and my local beer emporium now features all manner of flavours, textures and varieties. And boy, is it delicious. Beer is the new coffee. I was fascinated to learn that Olympic athletes and marathon runners are now drinking low-alcohol beer, alongside water, as a form of hydration. Because beer is rich in phenols—which lower inflammation and reduce the risk of sickness—it helps athletes recover from intense workouts.
I’m not alone in my predilection for lighter alcoholic fare. Sales of non-alcoholic beer have climbed 90% in the past decade. By 2024, global sales of are expected to top $25b, translating into an annual growth rate of 8%. Nor is it only beer that’s broadened its range. Spirit-free and low-ABV cocktails are also all the rage, featuring exotic ingredients like grapefruit shrubs, non-alcoholic aperitif syrup and smoked tea. The market for these products was worth US$74m in 2017. By 2026, its value is predicted to top US$200m. Up next? The wine market. Innovations in processing technology are already underway.
Read the rest of this post over at This Curious Life…