In partnership with CereX: Natural Cereal Extracts
From stouts with milk proteins for mouthfeel to ales composed from hop oils and malt extracts, specifically built stripping columns to boiling off the ethanol from the finished beer. There are an increasing number of brewers dipping their right toe and even diving head first into the field of NABLAB (non-alcoholic beer and low-alcoholic beer). And while the UK low/no market is still tiny in comparison to beer at large, or even Craft for that matter, representing less than 1% of total beer sales, its popularity is growing, especially among young drinkers. So, if you’ve already added an alcohol-free recipe to your repertoire then you’re totally on trend, you hipster you!
That’s right, the latest trend we’ve witnessed and which we think will only continue to gain momentum is the low percentage brew. We’re not saying that the rich, punchy and high ABV Craft 2/3 is going anywhere, or even that it’s under threat. Just, that trends like craft lager, clean (put an avocado on it) eating and vegan options are going to continue take an equal share of the limelight and are part of a trajectory towards further diversification into healthy NABLAB options. #DryJanuary (around the clock), or rather #TryJanuary – both are truly applicable here!
Say what now? Well, Heineken, Budweiser and San Miguel have all introduced 0.0% beers to the market and supported them with dedicated marketing campaigns for DryJanuary this year. AB InBev have even pledged that 20% of the beer they sell will be low or no by 2025, a big claim to make on a short-lived trend? Plus, BrewDog’s Nanny State has been a dependable part of their repertoire for many years, marketed initially as a reaction to the stink surrounding their 18% Tokyo, but as ever, devilishly ahead of the curve. Love it or hate it, NABLAB is more than just a fad and represents an opportunity for investment in a growing market, should you wish to take it.
Who cares? Well, if the brewers’ role is to meet customer demand (we know that’s not your only role really), then evidence strongly supports the existence of said demand for low or no. Recent research done by GlobalData shows a growing focus on healthy options and a parallel interest in lower alcohol alternatives. For instance, 38% of global consumers said health claims influence their choice of alcoholic drink. When looking at Great Britain in particular, the Office for National Statistics found that regular alcohol consumption is declining and teetotalism in those aged 16 to 44 is on the rise. A trend which is particularly prevalent among young people aged 16 to 24, who are less likely to drink than any other age group. The stereotype of the student weaving through life from party to party, punctuated only by hangovers and the odd deadline is something of the past! Rest in peace.
Looking for a catalyst, that moment to invest? Well, now really is the time! With the introduction of the ‘sugar tax’, the demand for an alternative to alcohol that won’t break the bank has never been higher. Ever winced at the cost of branded fizzy pop, marvelled at how your pint of orange juice and lemonade costs the same as the local real ale? Well, said conundrum bemoaned by teetotallers and designated drivers alike isn’t going anywhere. This is a call to arms brewers, we need you! There has got to be a better option.
We get it you say, we need to add a low or no brew to our range, can you get to the point and tell us how? There are many options available to the brewer looking to produce a final product for the low or no market. You can start at the beginning of the process by limiting the malt/water ratio to produce a lower original gravity or by choosing lower fermentable brewing materials for lower overall ethanol content. There’s the options that have me searching for my copy of Cool Runnings (tenuous link, maybe, excellent film, certainly): the ‘cold contact’ method of pitching your yeast in wort at near freezing temps; the method of fermenting the ‘second runnings’ from a previous mash #ReduceReuseRecycle; or that of ‘crash cooling’ when you’ve reached your desired gravity and alcohol content. There are also several methods of removing ethanol (expensive equipment may be required) and even the option to, well, water things down. All these options have costs and complexities to consider and will ultimately affect the overall beer flavour and mouthfeel; the skill lies in reducing this effect as much as possible.
Seem a bit complicated? Well, when isn’t it? We think we might have the answer! Technically speaking there is no such thing as beer without alcohol, as beer contains alcohol by definition, so really what we’re discussing here is a non-alcoholic malt beverage or brew. When you think about it like this, you open up a whole new creative space, separate to your usual brewery output. This is where CereX comes in, a malt extract that is the perfect clear compound for no and low beverages and which can be used for colour, smell, mouthfeel, taste and nutritional content.
CereX is a super high value natural malt extract, produced with a brewer’s philosophy. It is made initially in the same way as beer, well up to the point of wort boiling, so it’s made entirely from malted barley and brewing water. This also means that mashing, lautering and wort boiling are all performed in a state-of-the-art plant with the same strict levels of quality control and led by a passionate team with expert knowledge of brewing. Win! The first divergence from the standard brewing process occurs when the boiled wort is pumped through a series of vacuum plate heat exchangers. This evaporates the water content; enriching and concentrating the wort until a thick wort syrup is created. This is the natural cereal extract: CereX. It is then filtered for stability and to remove proteins leached from the malt, and finally stored in tanks at around 30°C ready for packaging. Once packaged it has a shelf life of 12 months and is available in 20kg and 235kg, oh and also heated road tankers for the big boys. It’s sterile, oxygen-free and very tasty! Plus, the clarity and stability of the extract means it’s perfect for all sorts of beverages.
Sound good? It’s even better once you’ve got it in the brewhouse (obviously). CereX is essentially an extra yummy concentrated malt extract, which requires you to dilute it to a specific gravity, say 1.045°OG, and then add aroma, flavouring and/or colouring to create the beverage in your mind’s eye (oh and you can carbonate it too if you’d like). Popular additions that spring to mind are a caramel to darken the drink, coffee flavourings, hop oils, bitters and acids. We recommend that when making these additions you do it on the cold side, to avoid cooked flavours and loss of aroma. But you’re the artists – you know what to do!
The rationale behind our confidence in CereX is multifaceted. The quality of the product is undeniable, providing the assurance you need when embarking on a new project like an alcohol-free brew. What’s also incredible, is that this quality doesn’t require huge investment for your brewery. Our industry is always seeking innovation and efficiency and this product provides this in spades; it’s a flavoursome base with almost endless possibilities of blending without time-consuming low or no specific procedures! Furthermore, the key difference CereX offers to NABLAB’s made by other processes, is that it has never come into contact with alcohol or yeast, thus making it acceptable to Muslims, those with a yeast intolerance and in fact, anyone looking to avoid alcohol and/or yeast altogether. For this reason, CereX is hugely popular in certain parts of the Middle East and Africa. Oh and CereX has health giving properties too. That’s right, healthy beer! Apart from some sugar, it is high in vitamins, amino acids, salts and certain proteins, making it the refreshing healthy option for the pub-goers not partial to pop or soft drinks we’d been so aspiring to cater for. So healthy is beer brewed via this route that German Olympians have been choosing it as an alternative to sports drinks! (We were shocked too!) CereX really is a low-cost, low-tech means to compete with the Heinekens, InBevs and Carlsbergs of the NABLAB world! A foundation for flavour without alcohol that can contribute to both the development and improvement of any low or no product! Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to learn more.
Looking for a bit of further reading? We’d recommend:
- Adult drinking habits in Great Britain: 2017, Office for National Statistics
- Adult drinking habits in Great Britain: 2005 to 2016, Office for National Statistics
- Cheers? No thanks! Low – and no – alcohol lifestyle booms by Sarah Butler for The Guardian
- Craft beer fatigue is sending beer and cider consumers in APAC in search of new options, says GlobalData, by GlobalData Consumer
- Craft beer fatigue is setting in by Nikkie Sutton for The Morning Advertiser
- Craft beer fatigue sends APAC consumers elsewhere by C Whitting for Beer & Brewer
- Forget craft beer. The next craze is non-alcohol brewers, by Ivana Kottasová for CNN
- German Olympians Drink a Lot of (Nonalcoholic) Beer, and Win a Lot of Gold Medals by Ben Crair & Adrew Keh for The New York Time
- Low in strength, big on flavour: How craft beer is leading the low and no ABV revolution by James Beeson for The Morning Advertiser
- Moderation on trend as sales of low and no-alcohol beer soars by Daniel Woolfson for The Grocer
- The Oxford Companion to Beer definition of non-alcoholic ‘beer’, Beer & Brewing Magazine
- The Premature Demise of Craft Beer, How Fake News Really Works by Pete Brown
- Soft Drinks Industry Levy: 12 Things You Should Know, published from HM Treasury, HM Revenue & Customs and the Department of Health and Social Care
- Why Heineken, Budweiser and San Miguel are pulling out the stops for Dry January by Simon Gwynn for Campaign