Edition: January 1st 2019, Written By: Kirstin Brolline
One would think the alcohol in beer is the main source of our drive to consume the beverage, but the decline of alcoholic beer and rise of its non-alcoholic counterpart might just prove otherwise. With over 120 years in the industry, Berghoff perhaps puts it best into perspective for us. Of nine published reasons on why people drink beer, neither reason points to alcohol as a dominant factor, with a feeling of refreshment, communality, and culture scoring high above it.
In 2017, The Telegraph put Czech Republic and the Seychelles at the top of the list of beer drinkers in the world, consuming a combined 257 litres per capita. Germany proved competitive as well, landing below Austria in the top five, both of whom consume 104 litres per capita each. Although this still appears significant, the total beer consumption in Germany has plummeted by 25% since 1990 and continues this course today.
Warentest, an independent consumer organization and foundation delved right into the matter by conducting alcoholic and non-alcoholic beer-tasting with professional tasters to compare the smells, tastes, after-tastes, foam durabilities and overall physical appearances and quality of the two kinds of drinks. Surprisingly, it uncovered a general favourability towards non-alcoholic drinks, making sense of the continuing growth of the alcohol-free option and the corresponding decline in the more conventional beer.
The Yale University alumnus and psychologist Rob Henderson attempted to put into perspective the nature of trends that places non-alcoholic drinks on a pedestal. According to Henderson, “humans are social”, and as long as beer, be it alcoholic or non-alcoholic, remains a trendy social beverage, we will be game.
Henderson also remarked that as part of the complex world in which we reside, we tend to use others’ decisions as a guide or “mental shortcut to navigate our lives.” These behaviours promote a social harmony and a sense of community to which we feel a safe and stable belonging. Therefore, as long as it generates sufficient social currency, a non-alcoholic beverage will be here to stay.
As it stands, Esquire reports that a significant number of breweries are “starting to finally produce non and low-alcoholic offerings – especially in Europe and particularly in Germany.”