From beers to spirits, more non-alcoholic options are on the market, with major brands even signing on, as research shows the “sober curious” movement is gaining steam in the United States.
For Joe Chura, it started with his own health concerns, as he felt he was drinking too much during the pandemic.
“My wife and I were gaining a lot of weight, not feeling good,” said Chura.
Chura cut out alcohol completely for 75 days and lost weight. He curbed his cravings for alcohol by drinking non-alcoholic beer.
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Then he started making NA beer, first in his garage, and now at the company he launched, called Go Brewing, which opened a taproom in Naperville late last year.
“I realized there was nowhere to go that didn’t revolve around alcohol, so I wanted to create a place and develop a really great tasting non-alcoholic beer,” Chura said.
With nearly a dozen beers on tap, including two sours, a hazy IPA and a pilsner, Chura is able to sell “Go Brewing” varieties online at retailers like Amazon, because it’s the alcohol by volume, ABV, is under 0.5%.
“In just seven months, we’re in 150 places,” Chura said.
“I think the shift has been bubbling up for a while now,” said Helen Jambunathan, an associate insight director, with Canvas8, a global consulting firm.
“In a nutshell what we do is to help brands better understand why people think, feel and spend the way that they do,” Jambunathan said.
Canvas8 research has found the sober curious movement is picking up, particularly in Americans under the age of 35.
“We're seeing young people sort of give up alcohol and move away from it in droves. Certainly drinking much less, with many choosing to opt out of drinking altogether,” Jambunathan said.
Registered dietician and nutritionist Christine Palumbo applauds the movement.
“I really don’t see any downsides to cutting out alcohol from your diet,” Palumbo said.
According to Palumbo, alcohol is a known carcinogen and all the calories from alcohol can add up.
“Whether or not you are going to cut back or cut out you have options now,” Palumbo said.
Non-alcoholic beers have a fraction of the calories compared to alcoholic versions.
But Palumbo says if you are switching from cocktails to mocktails, using non-alcoholic spirits, be sure to count the calories in the mixers too.
“The tonic waters, the fruit juices -- look at the label. Not only the calories and the grams of sugar, but look at the portion size,” Palumbo said.
Matt Byrne made the switch to non-alcoholic beer about a year ago
“I had an epiphany. I’ve had enough the culture of drinking. Just all of it, the cycle,” Byrne said.
He traded in his high-ABV microbrews for non-alcoholic versions like Go Brewing and lost weight and gained focus in the process.
“It’s easier than you think and the benefits come much faster than you imagine,” Bryne said.