- Guinness will introduce 0.0, a non-alcoholic version of its famous stout, for sale in United Kingdom and Ireland at select retailers, the company said in a statement. Guinness 0.0 will be available in more markets throughout the world in 2021.
- The Diageo-owned brand said it produced the beer using the same brewing process it uses for Guinness. A cold filtration process removes the alcohol.
- Guinness 0.0 joins a suddenly crowed space for low- and no-alcohol versions of beer introduced by nearly all of the largest breweries including Boston Beer, Anheuser-Busch and Heineken. AB InBev, the world's largest brewery, plans to have 20% of its global beer volumes coming from no- and low-alcohol beers by 2025.
If you ask beer makers what's on tap these days, odds are the answer is going to be a new product offering with little or no alcohol.
In much the same way the plant-based meat category had been dominated by offerings such as Boca Burger for years, the low- and no-alcohol space was previously associated with drinks such as O'Doul's. In both cases, the burgers and beers were an adequate substitute, but critics said they generally lacked much of the taste of the real thing.
In recent years, and most notably during the pandemic, beer companies of all sizes have been flooding the market with more premium nonalcoholic brews in an effort to grab share in the fast-growing market.
While nonalcoholic offerings represent a small slice of the American beer market — just 0.37% of dollar sales in grocery, convenience, liquor and other chain stores, according to IRI data cited by Goodbeerhunting — they are growing quickly. U.S. bottled low- and no-alcohol beverages are projected to jump about 32% between 2018 and 2022 — three times their growth in the previous five years — according to IWSR data referenced by Bon Appetit.
The growth comes as the broader beer category continues to struggle, offering beer companies a lucrative opportunity to jumpstart sales.
“I may have once said that we would never brew a non-alcoholic (NA) beer, but I’ve learned over the years never to say never,” Jim Koch, founder and brewer of Samuel Adams, said in announcing the rollout of his new product set to hit shelves next year.
Beer companies like Sam Adams maker Boston Beer are routinely touting how their product took years to develop in an effort to get that beer-like taste, and Guinness 0.0 is no different. The company said the process took four years so it could retain the distinct character and taste of Guinness.
"We know people want to be able to enjoy a Guinness when they choose not to drink alcohol without compromising on taste, and with Guinness 0.0 we believe they will be able to do exactly that,” Gráinne Wafer, global brand director at Guinness, said in a statement.
Marketwatch noted Guinness has previously produced some nonalcoholic products under its brand, including a lager in Ireland and a malt-based nonalcoholic drink that used to be available in Indonesia. This is the first alcohol-free version of its flagship brew.
Consumers are increasingly looking for low or no-alcohol versions of their favorite brews because they don't want to consume as much alcohol, while at the same time taking a deeper interest in their health and wellness. With so many offerings on the market, it's no surprise that striking the right taste and mouthfeel is crucial. It's no longer just enough to introduce a nonalcoholic beer and expect people to keep drinking it if it isn't good.
As people pay even more attention to what goes into their bodies, a trend that has further intensified during the coronavirus pandemic, food and beverage companies have little choice but to roll out better-for-you offerings — even if doing so would have been unheard of in the past.