The craft beer industry has been dominated by strong brews or alcohol-free varieties. The New York Times highlights how “craft brewers are increasingly aiming for the sweet spot in the middle.” Low-alcohol beers are growing in popularity, appealing to consumers who want moderation not abstinence.
“There’s just this completely unexplored space,” says Sean Boisson. He started Bella Snow Soft Ale in California, which focuses on ales with no more than 2.4 percent ABV (about half the strength of a traditional beer). Christophe Gagné, owner and brewmaster of Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers in Massachusetts, created a series of low-alcohol beers he calls the 2% Beer Initiative, which has become a bestseller. “I would much rather have two beers and not fall over,” he adds.
The trend is reflecting the preferences of older beer drinkers. Their bodies can’t handle the aftereffects of alcohol and they want to ease back into their IRL responsibilities without a hangover.
“We’re not surprised that lower-ABV. beers are coming of age because, well, millennials are coming of age,” said Lester Jones, the chief economist for the National Beer Wholesalers Association.
Brewers note low-alcohol beer is a challenge. A beer with less alcohol is not easier or even cheaper to produce. Low-ABV beers require less malt (the grains supplying the sugars that are fermented into alcohol) but, if hops are too plentiful, the flavor becomes bitter. And a quality low-alcohol beer also can’t be watery.
Read more (The New York Times)