Mar 5, 2024 - News

Utah's non-alcoholic beer sales have more than tripled in five years

Data: NIQ; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: NIQ; Chart: Axios Visuals

Non-alcoholic beer sales are exploding in Utah, according to consumer data obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: Like much of the country, Utahns are rethinking their relationship to alcohol.

By the numbers: Utahns' yearly consumption per capita has declined in the past three years, according to sales data analyzed by the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Services.

  • January sales of non-alcoholic beer reached $303,654 in Utah this year — more than triple the sales in 2020, according to data from consumer trends analyst NIQ.

The big picture: Only 62% of U.S. adults under 35 say they drink, down from 72% two decades ago, according to the latest Gallup data.

Between the lines: "Dry February" was Googled more than ever in the U.S., with search interest last month 30% higher than last February, according to Google Trends' Katie Seaton.

  • "Dry January" searches have increased every January since 2014, while search interest for "Damp January" nearly doubled this month compared to January 2023, Seaton told Axios.

Stunning stat: A major non-alcoholic beer brand driving the trend: Athletic Brewing Company. Whole Foods Market now sells more non-alcoholic Athletic beer than any other brand of beer, with or without alcohol, The Wall Street Journal reports.

What they're saying: At a recent alcohol-free event in Venice, California, a number of attendees told Axios that they were convinced to dial back the booze after fitness trackers showed alcohol was interfering with their sleep.

Zoom out: Mocktail brands have surged in popularity, with some boasting burns reminiscent of alcohol, and others claiming adaptogenic benefits.

Yes, but: Sophisticated zero-proof beverages can actually be more costly than alcoholic drinks.

  • For example, some alcohol-free wine involves the same grape fermentation process as traditional wine, plus an additional process: dealcoholization.

Case in point: Curiosity, a zero-proof bar in Salt Lake, closed its doors in July due to a business slowdown related to road construction and health problems in the owner's family.

  • The gourmet cocktails there were priced at $10-$12 — not much less than craft cocktails containing alcohol.

The intrigue: Utah's enthusiasm for non-alcoholic beer likely is not driven by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which instructs members not to drink alcohol.

  • Non-alcoholic beer still contains a small amount of alcohol, and many members eschew it to avoid the "appearance" of breaking the faith's rules.

Fun fact: A UK brewery sells a "Lager Day Saints" non-alcoholic beer.

What's next: Alcohol-free beer is already big, but alcohol-free wine has major potential.

  • Gonzalez says a growing number of customers are replacing their ritualistic evening wine glass — which often hurts their sleep quality — with a dealcoholized version.

Go deeper: Axios Denver put together a list of the best non-alcoholic beers.

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