In focus: Top trends in lower alcohol beer – The Drinks Business

The rise of low- and no-alcohol beer has been welcomed by the industry and by consumers looking for healthier serves. But this segment of the sector still has a lot of room for growth, writes Phoebe French.

While the trend has been brewing for many years, in the last 12 months there has been a surge in the production of and demand for lighter beers with lower levels of alcohol. This isn’t to say that lager and other lighter styles of beer, such as pale ale, witbier or saison, have ever fallen out of favour.

The UK in particular has a long history of brewing at lower strengths, with terms such as ‘ordinary’ or ‘session bitter’ – denoting a pale, hopped cask ale up to around 4% ABV – persisting to the present day. Lager remains the most popular segment of the beer category, the style accounting for 93% of the market by volume and 88% by value, according to Euromonitor. Unsurprisingly, the 10 most popular beer brands in the world, including the likes of Snow, Budweiser, Bud Light, Tsingtao and Heineken, are all lagers.

DELIVERING ON FLAVOUR

What has been seen, however, is a move towards sessionable, easy-drinking beers that deliver on flavour without overloading on alcohol. Terms such as ‘session beer’ and ‘table beer’ have crept into our vocabulary; the former loosely defined as a quaffable beer below 5% ABV, which when consuming multiple glasses, doesn’t cause palate fatigue or inappropriate intoxication. The latter, originally an 18th century beer-tax bracket between ‘strong’ and ‘small’ beer, is now more akin to Belgian tafelbier, usually around the 3% ABV mark.

While the majority of the world’s lager is produced by the global brewing giants, the category has newfound respect in the craft beer world, as brewers attempt to recreate the elegant

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