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Boston Beer to Join Near-Beer Push With Non-Alcoholic IPA

By Rich Duprey - Sep 14, 2020 at 8:32AM

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Changing consumer tastes caused the craft brewer to do what was once believed unthinkable.

Boston Beer (SAM -0.26%) is jumping on the non-alcoholic beer bandwagon with a new brew scheduled to appear in 2021.

Although founder and CEO Jim Koch once said the Samuel Adams brewer would never make near-beer, he recently said in a statement, "I've learned over the years never to say never." Boston Beer plans to introduce Just the Haze, an India pale ale with 0.5% alcohol by volume, early next year.

Cringing man with beer mug

Image source: Getty Images.

Crying in their beer

The near-beer trend gained a lot of momentum last year as Anheuser-Busch InBev (BUD 0.84%) and Molson Coors (TAP 0.02%) flooded the market with various brands of no- and low-alcohol beer. Anheuser-Busch has said it wants the category to account for one-fifth of sales by 2025.

The market analysts at IWSR said near-beer volumes jumped 19% last year even as total beer volume declined 2%.

Non-alcoholic beer originally gained popularity during Prohibition, but the repeal of the Volstead Act caused it to virtually disappear from the market. Until recently, Anheuser-Busch's O'Doul's was arguably the best known near-beer, but as consumers' tastes changed toward lighter, healthier options, the big brewers began introducing more options.

Boston Beer, of course, has been both victim and beneficiary of the change. Although the market for its Samuel Adams lager beer has collapsed over time, it has seen sales of its Truly brand of hard seltzer rocket to become the second biggest on the market. 

Molson Coors recently said it will introduce a bevy of non-alcoholic beverages to the market later this year, including a non-alcoholic seltzer with probiotics called Huzzah.

For Boston Beer, however, between its hard seltzer, cider, tea, kombucha, and now near-beer, the brewer makes more non-beer beverages than beer.

Rich Duprey has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Boston Beer. The Motley Fool recommends Anheuser-Busch InBev NV. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

The Boston Beer Company, Inc. Stock Quote
The Boston Beer Company, Inc.
$381.82 (-0.26%) $-1.00
Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV Stock Quote
Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV
$54.89 (0.84%) $0.46
Molson Coors Beverage Company Stock Quote
Molson Coors Beverage Company
$56.71 (0.02%) $0.01

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