A non-alcoholic Guinness may go against instinct, but for the past four years, the famed St James’s Gate brewery has been attempting to balance the flavour of their legendary stout with a sobering 0.0% ABV.
All of that development has finally paid off for the Irish brewer, who is gearing to roll out ‘Guinness 0.0’ to supermarkets across the UK as early as this week. It’s a big nod to the “sober curious” movement which has sprouted significant demand for non-alcohol, lower-calorie beverages amongst younger, health-conscious drinkers.
The non-alcoholic Guinness will come in full 440ml cans containing just over 70 calories each, available as four-packs in select British & Irish supermarkets for now, with plans to get the beer into pubs, and the international market, in 2021.
The zero-alcohol brew is the result of a cold filtration method that removes all alcohol during the typical brewing process. This de-alcoholisation sticks closely to the typical journey of mainstream beers, which are sometimes heat pasteurised to kill all yeast and bacteria, but opts for cold filtration to avoid any thermal stress to the beverage in order to protect the integrity of its taste and character.
The recipe uses the exact same ingredients as the standard Guinness, but it needed to be fine-tuned to capture the same malty, coffee-like sweetness without the booze. Whether or not that will come across for consumers remains to be seen for now, as Guinness 0.0 is slated for an October 26th release date.
Whether it’s well-received or not, the non-alcoholic beer puts Guinness in a good spot to ride the growing wave of non-alcoholic and low ABV beers that have picked up in presence and popularity over the past few years. In what is perhaps the biggest indication that the movement is only getting healthier, sales of non-alcoholic beer in the US were up 44% compared to the same period last year, based on Nielsen in the week ending 9th May 2020.
Other big brewers like Heineken and Carlsberg have already jumped on the emerging trend of flagship beers getting alcohol-free versions, moves that have been met with demonstrated success and an uptick in sales. And that won’t be dying down anytime soon; Belgian brewer AB InBev (who produce Stella Artois) have already indicated that no-alcohol products will make up 20% of the company’s entire drinks portfolio by 2025, and other beer brands like Pistonhead have been watching sales of both no and low alcoholic drinks skyrocket by up to 70% each week during lockdown.