Just Add Water: German Brewery Touts its New Invention, “Powdered Beer”Photos via Unsplash, Timothy Dykes Drink News craft beer
When you think about it, consumers do accept and use powdered substitutes of many beverages on a daily basis–many of us make instant coffee, powdered fruit or sports drinks, or use powdered creamer. So one German brewery is asking: Why draw the line at beer? Why not create the world’s first beer in packet form, requiring nothing more of the consumer than water, and a glass?
Klosterbrauerei Neuzelle is that brewery, based in the small German town of Neuzelle, near the Polish border. They’ve been developing the powdered beer and say that it should be ready for its first sales by the end of 2023, albeit in a non-alcoholic form to start. They argue that one of the main benefits of powdered beer will be ecological–that the huge difference in shipping weight by eliminating bottles, crates or cans would make a big difference in the beer industry’s carbon footprint. Obviously, that is contingent upon breweries around the world all taking up the production of powdered beer, which seems supremely unlikely, but it’s at least worth noting Klosterbrauerei Neuzelle’s rationale.
It makes sense that the trial run of such a product would be alcohol free, as one would think it would be relatively easy to create a powder containing the malt sugars and hop flavors of beer, sans alcohol. With that said, alcoholic powdered beer is indeed possible, and the brewery’s general manager Stefan Fritsche was quoted saying that they’re in the process of developing that product as well. As he put it: “We want to make virtually everything in powder form. We want the complete beer taste. We have the foam, we already have the beer taste. We want to add the carbon dioxide in powder form. We want to add the alcohol in powder form. We can do all that with powder.”
With that said, the German product would likely face immense hurdles in navigating the U.S. market, where the idea of powdered alcohol has already been widely stigmatized and regulated. Around 35 U.S. states either have laws banning powdered alcohol products, or have advanced legislation to do so, citing fears of alcohol abuse. There are numerous legitimate applications that powdered alcohol could have outside of just the beverage industry, but the legal challenges will likely be tough for anyone to overcome.
And finally, we can’t exactly look past the wider portfolio of Klosterbrauerei Neuzelle itself, a brewery with a lineup of products that does not exactly shy away from what one would generously refer to as “experimentation” and more cynically label “gimmickry.” Among their roster, they produce products labeled as “energy beer,” “bath beer” and even anti-aging beer, which does lead one to question whether the interest in powdered beer is more publicity stunt than genuine conviction in the product’s potential to help the environment. But who knows? Perhaps a decade from now, we’ll all be kicking off a Friday night by ripping the top off a packet of hazy IPA.
Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident beer and liquor geek. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.