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“This Isn’t Beer”: The Steep Learning Curve of NA Production

Nonalcoholic beer is a growing category, and some smaller breweries are getting into that space. However, doing it properly may entail much more study, planning, and compliance than you expect.

Kevin Kain Nov 6, 2023 - 13 min read

“This Isn’t Beer”: The Steep Learning Curve of NA Production Primary Image

Photo: Courtesy Industrial Arts

For a while, much of the industry’s discussion about nonalcoholic beer has centered on its growth, as well as the often hush-hush methods that breweries use to eliminate alcohol or avoid its production. However, there are other key considerations, and—while perhaps not as sexy as reverse-osmosis filter membranes—topics such as pasteurization and food safety should be on the minds of brewers pondering whether to enter the NA space.

“It’s a lot to think about,” says Jess Reaves, head brewer at Industrial Arts in Beacon, New York. The brewery released its nonalcoholic Safety Glasses Pils and IPA in November 2022.

From the start, it may be helpful for brewers to accept that a substantial amount of industry knowledge simply doesn’t apply to NA beer. “We were calling it beer at [that] point and thinking about it like beer,” says Industrial Arts founder Jeff O’Neil, referring to their R&D process when developing Safety Glasses IPA and Pils. Eventually, he says, he had an aha moment: “This isn’t beer. It doesn’t behave like beer. We need to stop calling it beer.”

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