The new year is (finally) here and as usual it brings resolutions to be more conscious about health, wellness and moderation. For more and more people, that means making smart drinking choices, including opting for low or no-alcohol beers, known as NABLABs.
To reduce the harmful use of alcohol, AB InBev offers more than 80 NABLABs worldwide. Our expanding portfolio offers a range of styles and flavors to meet growing consumer demand, with Budweiser Zero among our newest additions.
But what does it take to make an authentic, great tasting NABLAB? As our brewers learned, an ingenious combination of art and science is needed to serve up the same full flavor and refreshing taste that beer drinkers expect from every sip.
A new twist on an old tradition
At our Global Innovation & Technology Center (GITEC) in Leuven, Belgium, our experts have been perfecting the brewing process and taste of no-alcohol beers for years. Jeroen Laenen, Global Platform Manager for NABLAB, says it was a huge challenge.
“Historically, non-alcoholic beers were made in the brewhouse but with a completely different method that didn’t produce much alcohol,” he says. “Sometimes the beers were not fermented or were just briefly brought in contact with yeast. This process didn’t bring the best tasting product, so in the end they had a stigma of not being real beers.”
Knowing that alcoholic fermentation was essential to enhance the ‘flavor compounds’ that create authentic beer taste, the GITEC team developed a revolutionary process to gently remove alcohol from a traditionally brewed beer using special equipment, including a de-alcoholizer and an ‘evaporation column’ that can recover the beer’s aroma, another important element to authentic taste.
The verdict? Our newest NABLAB products are standing up to the most important test. “The best feedback we got was from our consumers—in some occasions the non-alcoholic beer was actually preferred over the alcoholic beer!” says Jeroen.
Starting from Zero in 2021
Last year, consumers were introduced to NABLAB choices from some of our most renowned brands, including Stella Artois 0.0, which earned a gold award as the best non-alcoholic beer at The Drinks Business Global Masters, a renowned blind tasting competition. Other new additions are zero-alcohol versions of Cass in Korea, Hoegaarden in Japan, Quilmes in Argentina, and low-alcohol beers such as Victoria Chingones Unidos and Corona Ligera in Mexico.
But these biggest NABLAB newsmaker of 2020 was Budweiser Zero, our first-ever global non-alcohol beer brand. Developed and co-founded in partnership with NBA legend, entrepreneur and advocate Dwyane Wade, this 50 calorie brew with zero grams of sugar offers the same refreshing, beechwood-aged taste you expect from Budweiser with 0% ABV.
It’s also bringing a healthy dose of inspiration. To encourage beer drinkers to turn their ambition into action this year, Budweiser Zero is inviting people of legal drinking age to join Team Zero, along with some of the most motivated and ambitious athletes on the planet, such as Darius Slayton, wide receiver for the NY Giants, US golf pro Kevin Kisner, Jordan Henderson of the England National Football team; Paul Bissonnette, former professional Canadian ice hockey player and Georges St-Pierre, Canadian UFC champion.
“Pursuing your goals is always easier when you have a team to back you,” says Monica Rustgi, vice president of marketing for Budweiser. “A new year brings a fresh start and Budweiser Zero is getting people to celebrate their accomplishments together, without having to choose alcohol or compromising on taste.”