Budding Beer Trends: 0% to Cannabis

Strange things are happening in the world of beer…

The drinks industry has always been a very fluid, fast moving world.

New fads rise and fall before brewers are given a chance to fully test their creations, making it seem like a risky endeavour to attempt any kind of groundbreaking exercise. That is often the case for large scale producers who tend to fear messing with any formulas at the risk of alienating their dedicated audience. Such a problem does not affect smaller scale brewers and ambitious start-ups who are able to build their brand on the basis of such trends.

Cannabis Beer that won’t get you drunk.

As more and more states in America move to legalise cannabis, drinks manufacturers are pouncing on the chance to be the first brand to popularise the incorporation of the drug into craft beer.

Keith Villa is a man to whom many will need no introduction. Spending 32-years with the drinks giant that is MolsonCoors, he is attributed as the creator of Blue Moon, the iconic Belgian style witbier that fooled the world, masquerading as a craft beer whilst spawning the industry at the same time. After stepping down from the Big Beer brand, Keith has gone into business with his wife Jodi to create a company that is dedicated to ‘the creation of custom and cannabis-infused non-alcoholic craft beer’. Put simply – the man who got the world drunk on ‘craft beer’ now wants to get you high instead.

The company is yet to release its first brew so we’ll have to wait and see what’s in store, but needless to say, it will shake the American drinks and cannabis market to its core. If you’re impatient to taste some cannabis-fuelled beer for yourself then you can always give High Flyer try. It’s the UK’s first cannabis beers, utilising the legal CBD (Cannabidiol) to create a 4.3% session-ale that reportedly grants some of the therapeutic benefits of the drug.

Alcohol-Free beer that actually tastes good.

It’s estimated that there has been a 20.5% rise in the sale of 0% or alcohol-free beer in the last year with total sales estimated at around £34.7m for the year.

There are a few reasons behind this shift in popularity – it’s important to remember, after all, that this kind of beverage has long been sneered down upon for it’s seemingly inferior taste. Thanks to ever advancing techniques in brewing methods and equipment, the quality of alcohol-free beers has risen and demand along with it, if the statistics are to be trusted. Additionally, with the advent of social movements such as ‘Dry January‘ and the decline in Millennial drinkers it has become apparent that consumers are more aware of the damaging effect that alcohol can have on the body and are now seeking for alternatives to their usual beverages.

In response to this dramatic increase in popularity, a number of brewers have stepped up to meet this demand including start-ups like Infinite Session and Big Drop Brew who cater specifically to the alcohol-free market, developing award winning beers that have been recognised for their excellence in flavour, despite containing no more than 0.5% volume alcohol. So how are these small craft companies capable of creating such flavoursome beverages where other bigger companies are still failing?

The trick is a complete restructuring of the brewing process. In the case of traditional low-alcohol beers, brewers will take a fully formed beer and strip the alcohol from it, a process that many claim also removes the flavour profile of the beer, resulting in a flat, dull tasting beverage. The brewers from these up and coming independent companies try a different tack. They develop their o.5% beers from the ground up, building the flavour profile in line with the beer’s alcohol-free nature thus retaining the kind of flavour that drinkers prefer.

Despite the consumer being on their side, they will have pro-Big Beer lobbyists and the multi-nationals behind them to contend with. Only time will tell if these pioneering start-ups succeed in their quest for producing these innovative beers.