Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, we must acknowledge that non-alcoholic beer has been on a pretty incredible run. For the segment to grow during 2021, as the beer industry as a whole is in the midst of bouncing back, shouldn’t be too surprising. But the fact that NA beer never actually dipped during the pandemic—in fact, it continued to see strong growth in 2020 while the craft beer market was in the midst of experiencing a devastating, 9% drop in volume—is all the more impressive, indicating that the thirst for non- and low-alcohol options only continues to grow.
The runaway success of Heineken 0.0 remains the most visible success story in the segment, but we’ve also seen a boom in more recognizably “craft-style” NA beer brands, with Brooklyn Brewery’s Special Effects being one of the most widespread, being available throughout the brewery’s 30+ state footprint. In the few years since the brand was launched, it’s steadily grown into a major part of Brooklyn’s business, with the brewery saying that it now accounts for more than 10% of sales—quite impressive for any NA beer brand, considering the anemic sales and reputation of the segment as recently as a few years ago. And now, Brooklyn is expanding their commitment to NA beer with the upcoming release of their first Special Effects Variety Pack, rolling out two new NA beer brands in the process. The variety pack is expected to hit stores nationwide throughout the upcoming Dry January, which is always the biggest yearly marketing push for NA beer.
“We’ve seen this culture of trial and experimentation around all beverage consumers but especially those who are interested in the low/no alcohol space,” said Brooklyn Brewery VP of Marketing Samantha Itzkovitz. “Our previous Special Effects releases, Hoppy Amber and IPA have out-performed our expectations, and year-to-date the brand family constitutes over 10% of our total sales for the Brewery. The Special Effects Variety Pack allows us to showcase our growing non-alcoholic lineup and feeds the customer’s desire to sample and figure out what they like in their own time.”
The variety pack gets at one of the key factors that has helped NA beer appeal to more consumers in recent years, which is a broadening of styles with quality N/A examples. Specifically, Brooklyn is now adding NA versions of pilsner and hazy IPA to their lineup, which already contained a more classical IPA, and an amber ale.
“With Pilsner and Hazy IPA we hope to continue in our efforts to expand the style offerings available to consumers of NA beer,” said iconic Brooklyn Brewmaster Garrett Oliver. “The options in this category have been so limited for so long and we hope to add more styles to the lineup as we continue to sharpen our production process and develop new methods for NA brewing.”
As someone who has enjoyed continuing to sample new NA beer styles and work them into my daily rotation alongside more traditional beer and spirits, I’m always happy to see more variety on the market. I’ll be curious to sample and review these new Brooklyn Special Effects cans in the near future. In the meantime, here’s how the brewery describes each of the brands in the variety pack.
Brooklyn Special Effects Pils: A crisp, snappy, and dry NA version of the world’s most popular beer style (Variety Pack Exclusive).
Brooklyn Special Effects Hazy IPA: Full of the bombastic fruity hop aromas and juicy feel of a hazy IPA and perfect for hop newcomers or haze experts (Variety Pack Exclusive).
Brooklyn Special Effects Hoppy Amber: A delicious, hoppy, and flavorful brew made for those who want smooth lager flavor and fresh hop notes without the buzz.
Brooklyn Special Effects IPA: A take on the most beloved craft style out there with its hop-packed and citrusy taste, just without the alcohol.