Craft beer trends: ‘Huge growth’ in lower alcohol brews and beer in cans

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Craft beer trends: ‘Huge growth’ in lower alcohol brews and beer in cans

Related tags Beer Craft beer

The UK craft beer market is seeing ‘huge growth’ in cans and no & low alcohol beers, according to online craft beer distribution marketplace EeBriaTrade.

The company used data from more than 600 beer and cider producers to compile its Eebria Craft Beer Trends report, seeking to shed light on the current and future direction of the UK market.

It identifies low and no alcohol brews and cans as two of the most significant trends in the market.

‘Low alcohol beer is here to stay’

No and low ABV beers are increasing in popularity as consumers seek to moderate their alcohol intake. Big brewers​ and craft brands alike have been increasing their work in this area.

In the UK, no and low alcohol beers (classified in this report as 2.8% ABV or below) have seen growth of 381% in the last two years, with a number of brewers now choosing to specialize in low alcohol brews, says EeBriaTrade’s report.

“One of the big recent trends is the growth of low and no-alcohol beers,"​ says the report. "While commonplace in many European countries such as Spain (where 33% of consumers drink non-alcoholic beers) and Germany (23%), it is much lower in the UK.

“This has started to change quite quickly: in 2019 nearly 3% of beers bought have been 2.8% of below, and of those 1.5% have been 0-0.5%. While the 2019 numbers include Dry January in three months of statistics, the picture doesn’t change dramatically when January is completely excluded. Low alcohol beer is certainly here to stay and we expect this trend to continue quickly, as there is still a long way to go.

“With some breweries now specializing in low alcohol, such as Big Drop, Infinite Session and Small Beer, as well as established breweries adding low alcohol beers to their range, like Thornbridge’s Big Easy, it seems like this is an area of craft that will continue to expand.”

‘Canned craft certainly seems to be the future’

The craft beer industry has seen a shift towards cans, says EeBriaTrade. In the UK in 2016, cans were used by 16% of packaged craft beer. This has now risen to 72% over the last 12 months.

The 440ml can format is the most popular size.  

“While bottles were historically by far the favoured container for beers, cans have very rapidly taken over with over 70% over craft beers sold over the last year in can.

“Until early 2017 almost all cans were 330ml, but that has very quickly changed with the majority of cans sold in the previous year being in 440ml cans. This was mainly triggered by highly regarded Manchester brewery Cloudwater’s decision to stop using 330ml bottles, and to move to 440ml cans, making them one of the first in the UK using this size. It didn’t take long for many others to follow suit.

“We don’t see any evidence to believe that these trends won’t continue, with increasing numbers of producers moving their packaging over to cans, and many to the larger 440ml. Having analysed the rate of sales of producers, we discovered that 83% of producers that switched from bottles to cans saw an uplift in rate of sales, which on average was almost 3x. Canned craft certainly seems to be the future.”

EeBriaTrade has released the first part of its research here;​ with a second part to come in April. It is currently crowdfunding on investment platform Seedrs as it seeks to expand into eight new countries this year. 

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