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This Is What Happens When Healthy Living Meets Craft Brewing


Spiked seltzers. Low-ABVs. Non-alcoholic options that mimic the real thing. All of these have had the wine, beer and spirits market buzzing as the demand for healthier imbibing options is no longer, well, an option. And now, it seems as if people are looking to the craft beer industry to satiate these cravings.

“The major growth and success in beer right now is being driven by a multitude of alternatives to the craft beer norm. Hard seltzers like Truly and White Claw are seeing triple digit growth with 5% alcohol, 2g carbs or less, gluten-free and 100 calories per serving. Likewise, Corona Premier is the growth leader of the brand at 2.6g carbs and only 90 calories per 12-ounce serving,” says Devon Broglie, senior principal of product development and innovation for Whole Foods Market as well as the brand’s master sommelier.

There is a hyper sense of concern about what is being ingested nowadays, which is being seen across the food and beverage industries. Organic is no longer a want; it’s a need for many. Plant-based diets are more common than ever, as are lifestyle movements like Whole30, Keto and Paleo. And while social media is a place that many turn to in order to check out the next Instagrammable food or cocktail, it has also become a place for healthy living communities to share recipes, resources and ideas, as well as to give instant support.

And now, those in the beer industry are tapping into these evolving consumer tastes, forcing even some of the major players to re-think everything from marketing strategies to ingredients.

“Craft beer juggernauts like Oskar Blues (One-y Hazy IPA), Dogfish Head (Slightly Mighty IPA) and New Belgium (Fruit Mural Agua Fresca) are actively marketing lower calorie, lower carb offerings,” Broglie says. Additionally, he added, Bud Light will be the first U.S. beer to display ingredients and nutritional facts on its carton.

But there is a completely new sector of beer seekers who are going beyond those that just want to watch calories and carbs. Whole Foods has pointed to a slew of brands trying to get their hands in the fitness game. Not just about healthy living, these beers have been developed specifically for different types of athletes, from runners to cyclists, at varying levels of competition.

The Boston Beer Company, for example, recently launched 26.2 Brew, a golden ale created by runners, specifically for runners. Featuring an ABV of just 4%, the beer is created using Himalayan sea salt to help athletes replenish electrolytes and contains only nine grams of carbs and 120 calories. The development of the beer was spearheaded by Shelley Smith, an advanced cicerone who is also an avid marathon runner and triathlete.

Broglie also notes that Sufferfest Beer Company is made by and marketed to adventurers, thrill seekers, and athletes. The beers, which are crafted for “those who want to earn it,” are made with ingredients like salt, black current and bee pollen to infuse both health benefits and flavor into each sip. Its tagline, said Broglie, is #WillSweatForBeer, and the goods are sold at running and cycling shops, climbing gyms and even CrossFit locations, cementing its place in the fitness market.  

And, there is ZēLUS Beer, which was founded in 2015. The brewery touts the electrolyte replenishment in its brews as a key sipping point. The beer, which is “crafted for your active lifestyle,” is brewed with more water without sacrificing on flavor, the company says, to keep athletes hydrated after an athletic event.



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