Why Is Non-Alcoholic Beer So Expensive?

expensive non alcoholic beer being tapped

Drinking alcoholic beverages can be fun once in a while but it can be detrimental to your health if you drink it all the time. If you want to change your habitual drinking of regular beer, non-alcoholic beers can be a great alternative.

Non-alcoholic beers have gained more popularity over the years. If you’ve seen one in a supermarket, you are probably surprised by how expensive they are. There are a few key factors that make non-alcoholic beers relatively expensive. Key contributors are the production cost, ingredients and materials used, taxes, and even from how the product is packaged.

Non-alcoholic beers can seem expensive and there are valid reasons why. This article will talk about some of the factors that make non-alcoholic beers cost as much as they do. So if you want to know why non-alcoholic beers are expensive, make sure to read until the end!

Why Is Non-Alcoholic Beer So Expensive?

Non-alcoholic (NA) beers are a great alternative to alcoholic beverages if you are trying to cut off or completely stop drinking alcohol. Most NA beers taste like regular beers so you still get the same taste without getting drunk. If you are looking for NA beer alternatives, there are other cheaper alcohol-free drinks such as soft drinks like Coke as well as fruit juices or tonic water. However, these alternatives won’t give you the usual taste of an alcoholic drink.

For a beverage that has little to zero alcohol content, you would think that NA beers are going to be cheap. There are several factors that contribute to the price of NA beers and what makes them expensive.

How Non-Alcoholic Beers Are Made

The process of making non-alcoholic beers contributes to their expensive price point as it is more time-consuming and needs more work. While NA beers are made the same way as alcoholic beers, there are additional procedures that remove the alcohol content from the beer.

For regular beers, the process starts by malting which is when you soak and germinate barley grains to create malt. Once malt is produced, this is turned into a sweetish liquid (wort) which is boiled to increase flavor and add bitterness. The wort is then fermented by adding yeast and this produces the beer that you know and love.

For NA beers, the liquid is still fermented. But, the process gets slowed and stopped prior to the full production of alcohol content. This process is called controlled fermentation. There is another method for removing alcohol from the beer and this is called de-alcoholization. Even if you stop the fermentation process, there will still be a tiny amount of alcohol in the liquid. The remaining alcohol content is removed by vacuum distillation, reverse osmosis, or arrested fermentation. These procedures either filter out, vaporize, or prevent the yeast from making any more alcohol.

Cost Of Ingredients And Materials

rice grains used to make non alcoholic beer expensive

Since there is no alcohol content to mute the flavors of regular beers, high-quality ingredients are used to make NA beers taste good. With the additional steps required to make non-alcoholic beers, there will also be the added cost of additional ingredients and materials.

The four main ingredients of beer are malt, hops, yeast, and water but breweries also add spices and other ingredients to create a tasty NA beer. Breweries typically use premium ingredients which makes the product more expensive. Not only that, additional equipment is also needed for the extra steps in creating the beer. We know that equipment can be expensive and it will definitely add up to the cost of the final product.

Supply And Demand

clinking glasses of beer without alcohol

The demand for non-alcoholic beers is not as high in comparison to regular beers so smaller breweries might not have invested in the equipment needed to produce non-alcoholic beers. However, there is a non-alcoholic beer market for those looking to cut their alcohol consumption. Most small breweries partner up with other distilleries and brewers to produce NA beers. Using other production facilities is an additional cost to a brewery and this also ends up affecting the price of their products. 

Other breweries that do have the equipment to produce NA beers mostly produce lower quantities as they do not have a high demand at the moment. Since they are not producing beers in larger quantities, it costs them a lot. Producing products in smaller quantities is more costly than producing them in larger quantities.

Beer Taxes

We all know that beers are taxable and are subject to excise tax. But, are non-alcoholic beers also affected? You might think that NA beers are non-taxable and breweries are not expected to pay alcohol tax because there is little to no alcohol content on the product.

Non-alcoholic beers are still taxable under the sales tax. However, in the United States, beers that have 0% or less than 0.5% ABV are not treated as beers. This means that NA beers are not subject to excise taxes under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). But, NA beer laws can differ by state and country. Some states in the U.S. may regulate taxes on NA beers and other countries can do the same.

Taxes imposed on non-alcoholic beers can also add up to the final price of the product. If your imported NA beer is expensive, taxes are most likely imposed.

Marketing And Advertising

Since the demand for NA beers is not that high, breweries need to put their efforts into marketing and advertising their products. Beer companies can spend their money on marketing efforts such as market research or competitor analysis. They might also double their efforts on advertising their products on traditional and digital platforms. All these can definitely be a factor in the product’s final cost.

Packaging And Distribution

beer bottles with caps contributes to why non alcoholic beer is so expensive

Another factor that can affect the price of an alcohol-free beer is how it is packaged. If you find a non-alcoholic beer on the shelf of your local grocery store, you’d probably pass by it without a second glance if the packaging is not interesting enough. Some breweries also invest in special packaging to preserve the quality of their NA beers better.

Aside from packaging, breweries also have to factor in the cost of having their products distributed in different stores. For NA beers that are in grocery or liquor stores, the prices would definitely increase as the stores are the middleman between you and the product. If you buy NA beers from your local brewery rather than a third-party store, the prices might be lower as you are buying directly from the source.

Conclusion

Non-alcoholic drinks like NA beers can be expensive. You might think that it shouldn’t be that way since there is no alcohol content in it. However, non-alcoholic beers have extra steps in the production making them more time-consuming to make. Higher-quality ingredients are also used to make non-alcoholic beers taste good.

There are other factors that contribute to the high price point of non-alcoholic beers and we have talked about them in this article. If you have any more questions about non-alcoholic beer, check out the non-alcoholic beer page or learn which non-alcoholic beers are best.

Angela T.
Hi, I’m Angela! Ever since alternative beverages made their debut, I’ve been on a mission to find the best. As someone who loves wine and making craft cocktails, I approach each new beverage with curiosity and a healthy dose of skepticism. I hope these honest reviews will help you learn which non-alcoholic drinks are best for you.