For decades, NA beer has been a mark of shame both inside and outside the bottle. That perception is changing, and a new class of craft NA beers is springing up across America.
NA Beer in America
Let’s face it: NA beers in America have historically been an offense to anyone who actually likes beer. They have never worked as a substitute for the real thing because they are spectacularly far from what could be considered “good.” A typical NA might feature equal parts light-lager sweet with a paler, waterier body and metallic aftertaste. The carbonation, however, is usually spot-on.
But not NA beer. They remained the shame-inducing, dusty green cans in the back of the cooler.
Outside the bottle, NA beers carry a wicked stigma. They’re so bad that anyone who sees one thinks, “who would choose to drink something like that?” People fill in the blanks, and walking around with one in your hand can tell a particularly personal story that no one wants to hear at a party. But, most times, there really isn’t any other choice if you want a beer without the alcohol. A person can only drink so many Diet Cokes, after all.
NA Beer living in the past
The current iteration of American NA beer (occasionally called “cereal beer” to really make you feel like you’re ordering a kids meal) is a gift of Prohibition. When the US Government set about shutting down the alcohol industry in the 1920s, they also would have put all the good people who worked in Big
So Big Beer pulled out its science kit and declared that 0.5% alcohol was the lowest ABV they could make using their expensive equipment. The government certified that as “Non-Alcoholic,” and a river of bland, watery pacifiers flowed until repeal.
That was 100 years ago.
The craft beer revolution
Meanwhile, over in the full-on booze department, the craft American beer revolution broke out from California to Boston.
But not NA beer. They remained the shame-inducing, dusty green cans in the back of the cooler. Brewers didn’t really improve them because no one bought them. No one drank them because they were so bad. The stigma grew…
Meanwhile, America was evolving again.
Some say popular Gen X stars hit the tail end of their careers, and suddenly “wellness” became hip. The demographic—including yours truly—started paying a little more attention to the rock and roll lifestyle and how they were affording it. And somebody had to drive home, after all. Then, the Millennials hit their stride, demanding alcohol-free work parties and mindfulness, and perceptions started changing.
But people still like beer. It’s how we gather, celebrate, relax, console. NA Craft beer is a welcome alternative for people who like good beer, but without the alcohol.
Hairless Dog NA Beer
By way of full disclosure, we at Hairless Dog make a craft NA beer here in Minneapolis, and we think it’s fantastic. We hope you agree. You can find out for sure by buying some from this lovely establishment, South Lyndale Liquors. They were the first in America to feature Hairless Dog. They get it.
We care deeply about our products and respect the people who drink them. We make products that people will be proud to carry around and be associated with. Products that may help destigmatize a healthier lifestyle. Products that—most importantly—taste good.
We’re all about bringing more people to the party and partying like there’s a tomorrow.
So we’re thrilled with the coming NA beer revolution. The more high-quality choices people have, the more there is to enjoy. And the more people feel comfortable being themselves, the better the world is.