We know that there’s a stigma around non-alcohol beers(NABs). We’ve heard it, seen it, studied it, and are making sure it stops existing. NABs at AB InBev, were traditionally brewed in ways that the alcohol extraction process took away a great deal of the refreshing flavor we all enjoy when having a drink with our friends, turning some consumers off from this alternative. But, as technology has continued to advance, particularly in our breweries, we definitely think it’s time to reconsider enjoying a NAB beer.
As you may know, to reduce the harmful use of alcohol, AB InBev offers more than 80 no and low alcohol beers worldwide. Our expanding portfolio offers a range of styles and flavors to meet growing consumer demand, with Budweiser Zero among our newest additions. This has been a challenge we’ve been perfecting over the years, and our Global Innovation & Technology Center (GITEC) in Leuven, Belgium has come up with a process that should make this healthier alternative much more appealing to our consumers.
My colleague Jeronen Laanen, our Global Platform Manager for NABLAB’s, claims that “historically, non-alcoholic beers were made in the brewhouse but with a completely different method that didn’t produce much alcohol.” According to Jeronen, “sometimes the beers were not fermented or were just briefly brought in contact with yeast. This process didn’t bring the best-tasting product, which led to their stigma of not being real beers.” Knowing this, our team started to innovate.
Because alcoholic fermentation is essential to enhance the ‘flavor compounds’ that create authentic beer taste, Jeronen and the GITEC team created a revolutionary procedure to gently remove alcohol from a traditionally brewed beer using special equipment and processes. This included a de-alcolizer and an ‘evaporation column’ that successfully recovers the beer’s aroma and helps the brew retain it.
After conducting several consumer studies and surveys, we have concluded that some consumers in fact prefer non-alcoholic beers over traditional beers, in terms of flavor! This is a huge step towards our ambitious goal of providing beer-lovers with the best alternatives to alcoholic brews.
What should you try in 2021?
My recommendation, if you’re interested in trying out these alternatives, are the following:
- Stella Artois 0.0 – Earned a gold award as the best non-alcoholic beer at The Drinks Business Global Masters, a renowned blind tasting competition
- Cass – A recently released Korean beer.
- Aguila 0,0 – One of my favorites, a very tasty brew made in my native Colombia!
- Hoegarden – You’ve probably tried the regular version, and the non-alcoholic version tastes exactly the same!
- Quilmes – The same taste of this iconic Argentinian brew, now with no alcohol.
The most popular one out of them all has to be Budweiser Zero, our first global brand of non-alcoholic beer, released last year. Developed in partnership with former NBA superstar Dwayne Wade, this beer has only 50 calories, zero sugar, and still provides that refreshing, beechwood-aged taste you expect from Budweiser with 0% ABV.
If you’re a fan of Budweiser or of beer, you can sign up at Team Zero, and turn your ambition of decreasing your ABV consumption into a reality. Several athletes such as Darius Slayton, wide receiver for the NY Giants; US golf pro Kevin Kisner; Jordan Henderson of the England National Football team; Paul Bissonnette, former professional Canadian ice hockey player and Georges St-Pierre, Canadian UFC champion, have all joined this mission.
I think that beer lovers across the globe, very much like myself, should try these out. As I strolled across the beautiful beaches of Cartagena last winter, I could not tell the difference between the Aguila Cero that was in my hand and the original version that I had always enjoyed. Little details such as these, made me realize that having a good-tasting, high-quality alternative can really make a huge impact on the lives of our consumers who truly enjoy beers because of their unique flavor.
Let’s keep enjoying NAB beers, thanks to the wonders that technology has bought us!
All my best,