What’s on Tap Next?
In 2018, overall worldwide consumption of alcohol declined by -1.6% with beer and wine volume decreasing by -2.2% and -1.6%, respectively, according to ISWR. Several shifting consumer tastes like preferences for hard seltzer, marijuana and CBD products, and even zero-alcohol beverages are contributing to an international decrease of alcohol sales. More can be found here.
Bars and beverage makers are adapting. While only 0.5% of the total U.S. alcoholic beverage market is low- or non-alcoholic, according to ISWR, several young brands have risen to satisfy the needs of a new generation trying to get rid of hangovers, and restaurants are re-creating their beer lists. Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD), the world’s largest beer maker, even announced the addition of a chief non-alcohol beverages officer, in July 2018.
Here are some of the companies creating the new liquid courage:
Year launched: 2014
Ben Branson, the founder of Seedlip, grew up three hours north of London on a farm in the U.K. Branson got the idea for a more premium non-alcoholic elixir after ordering an underwhelming mocktail during a night out.
He then spent two years tinkering with recipes using herbs and spices and making the beverage in his kitchen before convincing Selfridges to order 1,000 bottle (which sold out in three weeks). Seedlip is now sold in 25 countries and is served at about 6,000 restaurants and bars, grocers, and hotels. In 2019, one of the world’s largest alcohol companies and Smirnoff maker, Diageo, purchased a majority stake in Seedlip.
There are currently three flavors with ingredients like Jamaican Allspice berries, hand-picked peas, three-orange blend, and more. They are sold for $30.
Year launched: 2018
When Jen Batchelor was working in the wellness industry with clients, she became frustrated finding the balance between a healthy diet and having fun. A night out could ruin a week of clean eating.
“I thought people would want something to help transition from day to night, still have a good time — but be better for it in the morning,” she told Inc. Magazine. Batchelor teamed up with Soylent co-founder Matthew Cauble to create a new category called “euphorics.”
Kin’s first beverage, High Rhode, consisted of a blend of nootropics and adaptogens. Nootropics are claimed to be “smart drugs,” enhancing cognitive functions. And adaptogens are supposedly a stress reliever that can “boost strength and vitality,” according to Berkeley Wellness. There isn’t much scientific evidence to back these supplements.
Year launched: 2020
Another drink brand drawing on the alleged powers of nootropics, Sun Chaser launched in January 2020 promising to give a buzz without the hangover. It has ingredients like L-Theanine to relax the mind, GABA to relieve anxiety, cordyceps to reduce stress, and 5-HTP to improve your mood.
The founders don’t recommend drinking more than two cans a day, as was reported by BeverageDaily:
Most individuals feel the intended effects within 15–30 minutes. The buzz often comes quickly, is felt for about an hour, and then ends.
Sun Chaser will also enforce a minimum age of 18 to purchase.
Year launched: 2017
Netherlands’ flagship beer, but with zero alcohol. It initially launched in the Netherlands in 2017 and quickly expanded across Europe, and landed in the U.S. in early 2019.
The company says it took 15 years to research the flavor profile of regular Heineken in order to translate it to a non-alcoholic version. 0.0 is brewed with the same four ingredients as original Heineken: hops, barley, yeast, and water.
Not exactly not alcohol
The increase in non-alcoholic drinking is certainly being felt by traditional beer makers. News reports like “Millennials' drinking habits are causing a crisis for America's most iconic beer brands — and now they're banking on nonalcoholic drinks to survive” from Business Insider and “Fewer Americans are drinking alcohol — so bars and brewers are adapting” from CNBC show the industry’s shift and new investments.
Alongside alcohol-free drinks, lower-alcohol brands like apéritif-maker Haus have received funding to increase their distribution. Haus contains 15% alcohol by volume (ABV), which is far less than the 40% or more ABV of typical spirits.
Haus raised a $4.5 million seed round in January 2020 and introduced a new subscription program for shipments of one, two, or six bottles each month.
Expect to see more companies like Haus, Seedlip, Kin, and Sun Chaser emerge in the coming years as Americans look for new ways to socialize without alcohol.