Demand grows for non-alcoholic beer, wine as more Canadians cut back on drinking – National


With the holiday season in full swing and ‘Dry January’ on the horizon, Canadians who want to avoid or cut back on alcohol can find more options on menus and store shelves. .

Beer giants are launching non-alcoholic beers, specialty producers are creating innovative alternatives to spirits, and industry insiders are “cold curiosity,” people dipping their toes in non-alcoholic water. It has become more socially accepted as a term for .

Nicholas Gagnon Austerwaal, president and co-founder of Montreal-based brewery Sober Carpenter, said:

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“But now… it’s completely the other way around.”

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Consistent with public perception, Gagnon-Oosterwaal said the non-alcoholic beverage industry has come a long way, but still has room to grow.

Global Market Insights estimates that the global non-alcoholic beer market will be worth over US$22 billion in 2022 and will almost double that value in the next decade.

“I think what happened to craft beer in the last five to 10 years is going to happen to non-alcoholic[beverages]in the next five to 10 years,” Gagnon Woosterwaal said.

Non-alcoholic beer has been around since the Middle Ages and was promoted during Prohibition. And don’t forget the Shirley Temple, a non-alcoholic cocktail invented almost 100 years ago. However, companies have long struggled to create non-alcoholic beers that aren’t just for drinking.

Germany-based brewery Klaus Stahler calls it the “holy grail of non-alcoholic beer” and has tried something else to achieve it. Instead of removing the alcohol from the beer, we found a way to stop the fermentation before the alcohol was produced.



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More than 40 years after Klaus Stirler launched its products in 1979, the non-alcoholic holy grail hasn’t just been discovered, it’s everywhere.

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They have non-alcoholic sour beers, stouts, and IPAs. There is cider, and there are red, white, and rosé wines. There are also non-alcoholic spirits that mimic the taste of rum, gin and even absinthe. (Many non-alcoholic products actually contain trace amounts of alcohol, less than 0.5%, or about the same as kombucha, but some have zero percent.)

There are many reasons why you might drink less or not at all. Abstinence is often the healthiest option for people dealing with alcoholism.

Alcohol also has negative health effects. Some people have an alcohol intolerance or allergy, and many common medications do not interact well with alcohol.

In recent years, more and more people are participating in “Dry January,” when people quit drinking in the first month of the new year.


Click to play video: 'Creating non-alcoholic options for a dry January'

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Devising non-alcoholic options for dry January


Joel Gregoire, associate director of food and beverages at market research firm Mintel, said younger generations appear to be driving the growth of non-alcoholic beverages, with many consumers buying these beverages completely avoiding alcohol. He pointed out that it is not that he is avoiding it, but that he is reducing the amount.

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A 2021 survey by Statistics Canada found that about one in five Canadians said they drink less than they did before the pandemic, and one third of those aged 15 to 29 said they drink less than before the pandemic. were drinking less.

Alcohol has a social aspect, Gregoire said, which makes it difficult for many people to substitute. As such, many consumers are drawn to non-alcoholic versions such as beer and wine rather than simply ordering Pepsi.

“For those who, for whatever reason, choose not to drink, it’s probably a more premium and enjoyable experience.”

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The Liquor Control Board of Ontario began stocking non-alcoholic beverages in 2018 and now has 16 products, including beer, wine, spirits and mixed beverages. He plans to launch five more wines and two beers next year, and sales of these products have increased 20% over the past year, he said.

Since its launch in 2019, Sober Carpenter sales have also grown exponentially.

“Four years ago when we started talking to retailers about this, people said, ‘Why do we need this?'” says Gagnon-Oosterwaal.

As Gagnon-Oosterwaal watched the craft beer movement grow each year, he realized that non-alcoholic beers weren’t treated the same way, which inspired him to create Sober Carpenter.

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Today, using the stop-fermentation style of brewing, Sober Carpenter cans are sold in stores across Canada and around the world.



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Beer Canada estimates that sales of non-alcoholic beer are growing 22-25%, much faster than most alcohol categories. Home to brands such as Budweiser, Corona and Millstreet, Canada’s Rabat Brewery is not only seeing an increase in sales volume, but also an increase in revenue as more luxury and craft brands hit the market. It states that

Beer is by far the largest category of non-alcoholic beverages, with wine a distant second.

Spirits, on the other hand, is a much newer and smaller category, according to Bob Huitema, who launched Sobrii in 2019.

Huitema, who signed the “Dragon’s Den” deal last year, started developing non-alcoholic spirits in 2017 because he loves cocktails and hates hangovers.

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He said other markets such as the UK are far more advanced than Canada when it comes to non-alcoholic spirits, which can be frustrating for business, but it also means there are untapped opportunities.

Huitema said most Canadians who tried Sobrii products at a recent trade show didn’t even know the non-alcoholic spirit existed.

Non-alcoholic beverages often cost as much as alcoholic beverages because they are just as complicated to manufacture.

“People who drink it are less fussy, so I would even argue that the flavors may need to be nailed down more,” Gregoire said.

The early days of non-alcoholic beer had a stigma of substandard taste, but technology has changed that, says Brian Kuhn, Labatt’s Beyond Beer vice president, in an email.

According to Beer Canada, brewers are investing heavily and new manufacturing methods are allowing them to produce a wider variety of non-alcoholic beers without sacrificing taste.

And just like the Claus Stirrers of the 1970s, companies are still finding new ways to make these drinks.

At Sober Carpenter, the brewery has found a way to make non-alcoholic cider and has started small batch production of limited edition specialty beers alongside their regular product.

Gagnon-Oosterwaal doesn’t see non-alcoholic beverages as a passing fad. Like meat substitutes, he believes the non-alcoholic beverage industry will continue to grow and improve.

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“I think the trend of making healthier decisions and cutting out alcohol will take hold[here].”



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