Boring beer has dominated the market for a long time. While the food and wine industries over the years have had success in bringing regions, ingredients and creative styles to people’s homes, beer chose to stagnate: staying comfortable mass producing cheap expressions of traditional beer. Thankfully that has now changed. Or at least, there is much more to be excited about on the market now. Alcohol is no longer the protagonist. Flavour is.
For those of us raised in a drinking culture, with bars, bodegas and pubs on every street, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the intrinsic social aspect of beer as well. With this marriage of beer & gatherings, how do we not become a pariah if we choose not to participate in the beer? Or the gatherings for that matter? Thankfully, these questions have also been asked in recent years, and now it seems the tide is changing.
Firstly, we are normalising non/low ABV options. By reserving these options only for pregnant people and recovering alcoholics, it does nothing for including them, nor the plethora of people that enjoy the social atmosphere but do not feel like committing to alcohol (and all that it entails) at that moment. This disposition applies to all of us at one point in time, so we’re making space for it.
Secondly, just as importantly, it needs to taste really good. The benefit of alcohol-free beer vs other non ABV beverages is that they blend in terrifically. When everyone is holding a beer / glass of wine, and you stick out like a sore thumb with your can of lemonade, we’re back to feeling like a pariah. The non-ABV beer is the ninja of beverages. However, between the taste of a refreshing lemonade and some gross, malty-fizzy-bread-water, of course the lemonade is the winner. Taste will always be the deciding factor.
When making our Implosion ale, we enlisted the help of the smart folks at Chr. Hansen, who helped us work with a yeast called NEER yeast, that can only ferment the simplest of sugars: glucose. So if the beer is made in such a way as to limit glucose, then there's no way for the yeast to make alcohol. This means it’s possible to brew a beer as normal, add all the aromatic hops and desired flavours but without adding any ABV. We've since also brewed a few exciting non-alcoholic variations, such as Lowmotion Pale and Lowmotion Red using the same method.
Not sacrificing flavour is a godsend. One that we and other talented breweries are grateful for. But more importantly, it gives the drinker something simple and liberating when out navigating our complex social constructs: the freedom of a real, delicious choice.
So drink responsibly, drink joyfully, and more importantly: drink only when you feel like it. In doing so, we stand a chance of making our social culture happier, healthier, and more inclusive. Cheers to that.