So, What’s The Deal With Lower-Alcohol Beer?

So, What’s The Deal With Lower-Alcohol Beer?

Written by
April 4, 2018

If you don’t know much about lower-alcohol beer then you would be forgiven for thinking, ‘Well… what’s the point? I could just pick up a lemonade’. A lemonade is always a good option, but the more you learn about lower-alcohol beers, the more you realise that less alcohol doesn’t equal a less tasty beer. We’ll bust some myths for you.

Australians are looking for something a little different

The growing popularity of lower-alcohol and mid-strength beer has signalled that we may be redefining what we consider to be a ‘regular’ beer. Studies have shown that Millennials in particular are increasingly looking for lighter and less calorie-packed beverages. For this reason, low-carb and lower-alcohol beer actually accounts for one quarter of all beer sales in Australia – and that’s a lot of beer!

So, what has changed? Beer is still a very popular drink choice in Australia, but the way that we think about it has fluctuated. A study on our drinking habits in 2007 compared to 2017, shows some cultural shifts – we now have more of a focus on moderation and we’re drinking more mid-strength beer than we did a decade ago.

That doesn’t mean that people have stopped buying beer, just that sales of mid-strength beer are growing twice as fast as other kinds of beers. We’ve got more options now than ever before.

How are lower-alcohol and mid-strength beers actually made?

Some people have avoided lower-strength beers thinking that the quality is lacking – possibly because it was once thought that the only way to remove the alcohol was to heat beer until it evaporated, potentially altering the taste of the other ingredients. But you may not even taste the difference!

Some brewers remove the alcohol through vacuum-distilling the beer (which significantly lowers the boiling point) or by using less malt in the mashing process (when the mashed malts are combined with water to turn starches into sugar), which means there’s less sugar to turn into alcohol. This method also enables residual sugars to support the balance between body and bitterness and produce a similar mouthfeel to ‘regular’ beer.

Adding extra hops at the end of the fermentation process also delivers a stronger aroma to the beer.

What are brewers offering?

There’s always been a market for lower-alcohol beer, and now brewers are responding accordingly. Brands like Asahi, XXXX Gold, Coopers, Carlton, Little Creatures and VB have put more time into creating tasty lower-alcohol beers, with the world’s largest brewer, InBev, also pledging that by 2025 20% of their beer will be lower-alcohol.

The key is that these beers don’t compromise on flavour – which is achieved through new brewing methods and technology. So, which lower-alcohol beers do we recommend?

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