EMAILED ON February 15, 2019 BY Conor Grant

The beer industry is on track to get a whole lot less boozy

For all the beer snobs out there, here’s a quick quiz: What’s the fastest-growing category of beer? Is it IPAs? Sours? Some European brew with a name you don’t know how to say?

Nope. The fastest-growing beer segment is… non-alcoholic beer. That’s right, O’Doul’s die-hards: According to recent research, non-alcoholic beer sales grew 3.9% last year while boozy beer sales grew just 0.2%.

“I’ll take one beer without the alcohol, please”

Beer isn’t just for German biergartens and American college parties anymore: In the past several years, the sweet wheat has become popular in places like the Middle East, where alcoholic beverages are illegal.

So, to cater to the expanding pool of beer drinkers, large alcohol producers are making beer, well, less beer-ish: Heineken, the world’s 2nd-largest beer brewer, released its first alcohol-free beer in 2017, and its sales have grown more than 10% annually.

The future could be less fuzzy

Due to the success of alcohol-free beers like Heineken’s “0.0,” non-alcoholic beer sales are taking off around the world. 

In China, as much as 30% of new beers released in recent years have been non-alcoholic. Even in Germany — the beer-drinking capital of the world — non-alcoholic beer consumption has increased 43%

Today, non-alcoholic beer accounts for just 5% of overall beer consumption. But AB InBev, the largest beer company in the world, plans for 20% of its beer sales to be low or non-alcoholic by 2025.