Alcohol-free drinks flow in Michigan as more businesses enter market

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Non-alcoholic beers, wines and spirits are growing in popularity as some consumers refrain from drinking.

Non-alcoholic beverages account for only a small portion (0.47%) of total US alcohol sales, but the market has been booming over the past five years, prompting some Michigan companies to join the scene. I am urged.

According to market research firm NielsenIQ, sales of non-alcoholic beverages in the U.S. will grow 20% in a year to reach $395 million in August 2022. Also, the global non-alcoholic and low-alcohol market will reach $10 billion in 2021, up from $7.8 billion five years ago, according to last year’s analysis by beverage market data firm IWSR Research. I was.

Related: Going Alcohol Free in Dry January? Try These Zero-Proof Drink Menus in the Ann Arbor Area

East Lansing-based craft brewery Ellison Brewery & Spirits began pouring two non-alcoholic beers this month. German style pilsner and tiramisu stout. They are brewed traditionally, Ellison Brewery uses special equipment to remove the alcohol, and by volume he makes beer with less than 0.5% alcohol.

The result: “It tastes like beer,” says Mark Logusz, marketing manager for non-alcoholic beer.

“I was so intrigued to be able to make a non-alcoholic beer that you wouldn’t even know it was non-alcoholic with every sip,” he said.

Other Michigan breweries are also experimenting with non-alcoholic options.

Detroit’s Eastern Market Brewing Company launched two zero-proof sours last week. Grand Rapids’ Schmoz Brewing Company offers a non-alcoholic pale ale for “when life sounds good, but alcohol isn’t right for you.” North Michigan’s Short’s Brewing Company launched the alcohol-free Thirst Mutilator last summer.

Then, late last year, a new non-alcoholic bottle shop opened in Grand Rapids selling liquor and cocktail mixers.

“It’s just getting bigger. It’s exploding,” Logusz said.

Ellison Brewery is targeting three potential customers with a new alcohol-free beer. Logusz described them as sober, “in-between” (both drinkers) and active people.

Younger consumers, who are less interested in drinking than older generations, are driving this burgeoning market, according to a Nielsen study, with a “broader wellness movement” encouraging some to abstain from alcohol. It is

Brittnee Fuller, 28, is one of them.

The Owosso gig worker quit drinking 10 months ago because he felt like he was “a different person.” Fuller has since seen many of her friends sober.

“I decided to set myself apart and be more myself,” she said.

Fuller, who often visits friends in Grand Rapids, stopped by the new Alt City NA Bottles and Beer on New Year’s Eve. She says alcohol-free options in “cute little cans” make sobriety easier.

“It helps a lot with relieving peer pressure, feeling comfortable, and getting used to being sober in public,” she said.

The Ann Arbor Produce Station sees the market shift.

“There has definitely been a lot of interest and growth in this area over the past three years,” said Andy Gorsuch, Vice President.

The specialty grocer now offers 30 beer and spirits alternatives, including pioneers in the non-alcoholic scene, Athletic Brewing. The Connecticut brewery, which is “dedicated to making great-tasting craft beer without compromise,” has raised more than $225 million from investors since its launch in 2017.

“We enjoyed the fact that it was an inclusive community and that people were choosing to drink that style of beer for a variety of reasons,” Gorsuch said. Everyone was thrilled when they saw the selection.”

Related: Non-alcoholic bottle shop opens in Grand Rapids

For many drinkers, it’s about moderation.

An IWSR survey found that about 43% of adults have purchased non-alcoholic or low-alcoholic beverages instead of completely abstaining from alcohol. Nearly four-tenths of consumers do so to avoid the effects of drinking alcohol, while another third say they enjoy the taste of non-alcoholic options.

Nielsen also reports that most non-alcoholic shoppers (about 82%) also purchase alcoholic beverages.

Scott Graham, executive director of the Michigan Brewers Guild, believes there are many reasons why people may choose to drink less.

“Maybe I just don’t want to go out with friends, drive, or drink alcohol,” he said. “He might want something to drink, but three pints of lemonade is enough for him. Water isn’t all that interesting either. So this is certainly an interesting and reasonable alternative.”

The non-alcoholic beverage market is expanding, but it is still a small market.

Graham says most small breweries in Michigan (nearly half are microbreweries) probably won’t jump into non-alcoholic recipes because of the high cost and complicated process.

“I think traditional beer is going to be really appealing to people in general,” he said.

Related: Short’s Brewing Partners with Grammy Winner Billy Strings to Launch First Non-Alcoholic Beverage

Another challenge: non-alcoholic beer is considered beer by law. This means that you must purchase through the Michigan Liquor Control Board to sell in other stores, bars and restaurants.

“One of the frustrating things is that if you have a microbrewery or a Michigan brewery license and you have a licensed tasting room where people can buy your beer, you can’t buy other non-alcoholic beers. It means you can’t buy and sell,” Graham said. “To sell, you have to make it yourself”

Beer is now legally defined as a beverage made by fermenting “barley, malt, hops and sugar” in water. Michigan, on the other hand, considers wine to be fermented juice containing between 0.5% and 21% alcohol.

This means Ellison Brewery non-alcoholic beers are available in taprooms, online in 42 states (excluding Michigan), or statewide. Logusz said this was a “huge disincentive” and that the change in legislation would allow breweries to sell alternatives directly to customers and other breweries.

“There isn’t a single advantage to having non-alcoholic beer called beer in Michigan,” he said.

So far, it’s clear that the non-alcoholic industry is thriving.

And some companies in Michigan, the home state of Beer City (Grand Rapids) in the United States, are eyeing the multi-billion dollar global market.

“This is going to be a brewery staple,” said Logusz. “The brewery always has non-alcoholic beer available and sells it all year round.”

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