While the proliferation of spiked seltzers that’ve rushed to market in the past year might suggest otherwise, not every young person is an unrepentant drunk. Recent times have seen new trends towards non-alcoholic beers and even booze-free bars, indicating that there’s a whole host of Millenials and even older Gen Z’ers who want to enjoy the experience of going out without, well… pretty much everything else that comes with drinking.
In the latest sign that the beer industry is adapting to the increasing popularity of what some call “mindful drinking,” Brooklyn Brewery recently announced it would be introducing its very own nonalcoholic craft beer. According to the brewery’s website, Special Effects is largely similar to an amber lager, featuring hints of grapefruit and other zesty aromas, pairing well with grilled foods. Oh, and most importantly, it weighs in under 0.5% ABV. Brooklyn Brewery says that’s “about the same as an overripe banana,” adding that that “it tastes just like a regular beer, but therein lies the special effect: it’s not.”
To the folks at the craft brewery, Special Effects’ existence is an acknowledgement that how younger consumers tend to drink has changed.
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“We did a lot of market research and we found that people [in their 20s] have grown up with different drinking patterns,” Brooklyn Brewery president Robin Ottaway told Forbes. “We figured if we could make a craft beer without alcohol, there would be a market for it.”
The introduction of ultra-low ABV beers like Special Effects could help craft breweries continue to carve out a niche during a time of broader chang for the beer industry. Sales data from the Brewer’s Association indicates that while overall beer sales declined 1% in 2018, sales of craft beers grew at a rate of 4% over the same period. By pairing a desired nonalcoholic offering with the taste and trust factor of a craft brew, companies like Brooklyn Brewery could certainly set themselves up to weather the storm of any bigger changes in how younger generations do (or do not) drink.
In the meantime, Special Effects is rolling out during the month of November, and should be available in cans or on tap wherever you’d normally find Brooklyn Brewery beers by early 2020. Once that happens, it should be easier than ever to act like a pretentious beer snob without suffering through the next-day hangover you probably deserve.