Non-alcoholic beer debuts at Brooklyn Brewery amid declining alcohol sales

More beer makers are crafting up sober brews.

Brooklyn Brewery is launching its first non-alcoholic beer nationwide, the New York City-based brewer announced Tuesday. It’s the latest brewery to cater to a sober-curious crowd.

Brooklyn Special Effects was made to mimic the flavor profile of regular beer, minus the alcohol and is described as a hoppy lager-style brew.

“It's not just for people who are sober, pregnant, or driving, but rather it’s for people who want to do more with their lives while still enjoying a fun and flavorful beverage,” Robin Ottaway, Brooklyn Brewery President, said in a statement.

The brewery’s push to sell a nonalcoholic beverage comes amid declining beer sales. Indeed, beer shipments from U.S. breweries are down 3.5% in 2018, according to industry trade group The Beer Institute.

Brooklyn Brewery also acknowledged changing consumer preferences, citing that 52% of beer drinkers aim to reduce their alcohol consumption prioritizing a “healthier lifestyle” instead. And as overall sales of alcoholic beverages decline, craft breweries and alcohol giants like AB InBev and Heineken are investing in non or low alcohol drinks that cater to the sober curious crowd.

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Molson Coors acquired California-based Clearly Kombucha last year becoming the first international brewing company to buy a non-alcoholic brand.

Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, the third largest craft brewery in the U.S., announced in Feb. it bought low alcohol, San Francisco-based Sufferfest Beer Company. It’s made with electrolytes and sea salts, and marketed to athletes as a recovery drink to help them refuel rather than dehydrate, like most alcohol does.


Sober bars have also popped up in recent years with increased demand. Mocktail bar Getaway in Greenpoint, Brooklyn serves up $13 drinks like the Ginger Spice – spicy ginger, cucumber, grapefruit juice, extra bitter tonic, club soda and blackberries – sans alcohol. It’s meant to be a dry watering hole for likeminded non-drinkers looking for nightlife.

“Even for those who consume alcohol on a regular basis, there are countless moments throughout the week that call for a non-alcoholic option to fit a desired flavor profile. That was priority number one for us: make a beverage that was up to our brewing standards and didn't compromise on flavor,” Ottaway said.