Why did non-alcoholic drinks increase in popularity?
Let's take a quick look at the history of non-alcoholic beverages and go on to understand why they've become so popular in recent years.
A brief history of non-alcoholic drinks
In the Middle Ages, people brewed a low-alcohol brew called small beer as an alternative to the unsanitary water of the time. Small beer contained enough alcohol to kill bacteria and was considered safer to drink than water. It was served to adults and children with their dinner meals.
The American Temperance movement led to large-scale production of low-alcohol beer. Back then, trading in any alcohol that had more than 0.5% ABV was illegal. People had to contend with less flavorful versions of alcoholic beers.
'Temperance drinks' made an appearance in American cocktail books, including in Bar-Tenders Guide (1862) by Jerry Thomas, the father of American mixology. The guide contains a section of 15 alcohol-free cocktail recipes.
Germany's Binding-Brauerei Brewery is credited with developing the world's first non-alcoholic beer - Clausthaler - in the seventies. The 'original' non-alcoholic beer is made from a brewing process that prevents the formation of alcohol.
Over the years, this segment has kept a steady pace of growth. And while non-alcoholic drinks represent a tiny percent of the overall market for alcohol, they're poised to become big for the reasons explained below.
More people, especially younger generations, are aiming to lead healthier lifestyles
Most research has found that people are motivated to drink alcohol for two main reasons: to be sociable, have a good time with others, partake in celebrations and escape, avoid, or cope with negative emotions. As alcohol affects the reward/pleasure areas of our brains, we look forward to the drinking experience. Unfortunately, drinking alcohol even in small amounts frequently can be a slippery slope and lead to addiction (it some cases).
The ill effects of drinking alcohol are well-known, but, earlier, people drank without caring much about what it might do to their bodies, the perceptions of alcohol consumption have changed significantly in the past years. Surveys indicate that a majority of people want to lead a healthier lifestyle by moderating their alcohol consumption and choosing meat-free days. According to an IWSR analysis, 58% of adults worldwide are looking to curtail their drinking.
People are adopting healthy lifestyles to improve their quality of life and derive more enjoyment from life. Rising healthcare costs and health insurance premiums are also forcing a rethink of lifestyle choices. The younger generations, in particular, are interested in wellness, caring more about nutrition, fitness, and limiting work-related stress. Decreasing their alcohol intake fits into this agenda, and as such, younger people have driven the sober-curious movement of living a fully sober lifestyle.
Better quality and new aesthetic are a big draw
The non-alcoholic versions of beer, wines, and spirits do not offer the sought-after buzz of alcohol. Why, then, are people switching to drinks containing only trace amounts of alcohol?
It has been argued that people may choose an alcoholic drink for its taste and not only for what it does. So, apart from the positive and negative reinforcement that motivates the consumption of alcohol, factors like flavor and aesthetics also count. In the past years, the quality of non-alcoholic drinks has increased, further drawing people to the possibility of trying this new type of beverage.
Interestingly, another class of non-alcoholic beverages called euphorics promises to create the stimulant and sedative benefits of alcohol. Euphorics contain adaptogens, nootropics, and hemp derivatives that boost mental clarity, help you unwind in social situations, and work as a sleep aid. Adaptogens are herbs and mushrooms that help the body manage stress and maintain balance. Nootropics are compounds that have stimulating effects. Non-intoxicating cannabis derivatives are added to create a soothing effect on the body and mind.
The best non-alcoholic drinks please your palate and mimic the social drinking experience. The best non-alcoholic adaptogenic drinks help boost your mood and adapt to stress minus the intoxication.
That alcohol can increase the anxiety that hit home during the pandemic
Alcohol can help you relax, but it can also make you feel anxious. During the anxiety-ridden time that was the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, people who consumed alcohol as a way to cope realized that it was making them more worried.
Alcohol reduces your body's blood sugar, which is why you feel lightheaded and fatigued after a night of partying. The drop in blood sugar can stress your brain out. After a few hours of drinking, you may experience anxiety (known as hangxiety). Non-alcoholic drinks spare you all the negative effects of a hangover. They may not be a coping mechanism but unlike alcohol, do not cause anxiety as a side effect.
Non-alcoholic drinks are safe around children
Drinking convenience is another reason why people are taking to non-alcoholic beverages. You can enjoy your favorite NA drink in the presence of your children without worrying that they might accidentally take a sip. Moreover, you can drink at any time of the day and not have to restrict your driving, chores, work or other activities.
These reasons explain the growing interest in exploring alternatives to traditional alcoholic drinks. Needless to say, businesses have tapped into these changing preferences to bring out alcohol-free versions of regular alcohol.
The Best Non-Alcoholic Drinks to Buy
There's a non-alcoholic version of every type of alcohol there is. Trusted non-alcoholic marketplaces carry different types of NA drinks. At Better Rhodes, you'll find non-alcoholic IPAs, dark beers, pale ales, and lawnmower-style lagers from the UK's Big Drop Brewing, which pioneered the innovation of NA beer back in 2016. The company focuses on making low-alcohol/non-alcoholic beers, among them some award-winning creations that you can buy on our site.
The UK is one of the largest non-alcoholic drinks markets in the world. In comparison, America's non-alcoholic market is relatively small (about 1% of the US beer industry) but expected to grow on the back of new trends in health and wellness.
Non-alcoholic versions of wines, whiskeys, tequilas, gins, and cocktails delight the palate with familiar flavors and aromas. As they contain plant botanicals, your body gets a good dose of minerals and vitamins.
Enjoy Your Non-Alcoholic Drink!
Alcohol-free drinks create the enjoyment of their alcohol-based counterparts minus the guilt. The NA marketplace is teeming with complex creations that feel just as great as alcoholic drinks. Give non-alcoholic drinks a try - they will become a fixture at your parties and holiday celebrations in no time at all.