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Beyond the Buzz: Exploring the Surge of Non-Alcoholic Craft Beers in the Pacific Northwest

The rise of non-alcoholic beer is hard to ignore. What used to be relegated to the farthest corners of Total Wine–gathering dust and quietly expiring–has now taken over. It’s become a go-to drink for us sober-curious individuals who crave the social aspects of bars sans aching hangover. 

Unsurprisingly, mainstream brands like Budweiser and Heineken are quickly jumping on the bandwagon. Popular brands like Athletic Brewing are dominating the market, with more beer styles being offered every year. 

But now the question is, what does this mean for Pacific Northwest craft breweries? After all, the PNW has been known for its massive influence on the craft beer industry, so where does it fit in with this growing trend? 

To answer this question, I interviewed several PNW craft brewers and owners who have taken the leap into making non-alcoholic craft beer. I wanted to know what their ambitions were, whether it be to take advantage of the next big thing or give big-name breweries a run for their money. 

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The Rise of Sober-Curiosity

According to The Insider, the growing trend of “sober curiosity” kicked off in 2018 as a response to the ever-increasing research on the harmful effects of alcohol. Since then, social media has been teeming with ads for alcohol alternatives ranging from wild mushroom elixirs to non-alcoholic distilled botanicals. 

“Overall – non-alcoholic is not going away,” says Nathan Reilly, co-owner of Three Magnets Brewing. “An entire generation of youth have a different outlook on alcohol consumption than previous generations […] so the non-alcoholic craft beverage trend has a lot of staying power.”

Photo of Three Magnets Brewery Self Care Non Alcoholic line of beer
Photo from Three Magnets Brewing

Three Magnets Brewing is located in the downtown of Washington state’s capitol, Olympia, which was hit hard by the telecommuting of state workers. “We knew that we’d need to think way outside the box in order to have a lifeline in whatever the post-pandemic downtown economy might look like,” Reilly told me. So, they launched their first NA hazy IPA just in time for Sober October 2020. 

The reception was overwhelmingly positive, so they brewed two more NA beers for Dry January, part of the Self Care nonalcoholic line of beers. They began selling directly to consumers in 41 states and invested all of their Economic Injury Disaster Loan money into refining their non-alcoholic brewing process and defining their brand. Since then, their audience has grown exponentially. 

When I asked what the biggest achievements were for Self Care, Reilly said Bumberbrew, hands down. “We never imagined in a million years that we’d ever brew an official beer for Bumbershoot. But to have the opportunity to brew a non-alcoholic beer for them? How awesome is that?”

Photo of three beers from Three Magnets NA line of beers
Photo from Three Magnets Brewing

A Moving Target

If you’re not already on the NA beer trend, it can be hard to understand the appeal, yet the audience is only expanding. According to CNBC, the global non-alcoholic beer market is projected to increase from $22 billion in 2022 to upwards of $40 billion by 2032. So, if you’re not drinking NA beer (yet), then who is?

I asked Matt Lincecum, co-owner of Seattle’s Fremont Brewing, if anything surprised him about the target demographic for their NA beer line. “I’m continually amazed [at] how broad and diverse the fan base is for NA beers. Whether it’s the first beer, the last beer, the beer with a quick lunch in the middle of the day, NA beers appeal to everyone who wants a beer but doesn’t want to be slowed down.”

The growing popularity for NA beer has even led to Three Magnets introducing their NA beer on draft. “Watching them order their Self Care–there is a genuine look of appreciation on their face,” says Reilly, “It’s so incredibly rewarding to know that we are creating that experience for them.”

The Future of PNW NA Craft Brews

All trends come and go, and beer is no exception. From the thickened fruit juice smoothie IPAs to the light and crisp “dad beers” and hard seltzers, it could be easy to relegate NA beer as just another drink fad. But something feels different about this brew.

With the growing demand for transparency and a leaning towards healthier lifestyles, it seems entirely likely that NA beer will remain a market staple. Younger people, individuals on fitness journeys, the sober-forevers, and the sober-curious are eagerly bellying up to the bar and finding a beer that tastes great and offers the same social freedom as the hard stuff. 

Image of a NA beer from the Three Magnets Self Care line
Photo from Three Magnets

“We’ve built a foundation strong enough to be able to handle the weight of some very lofty goals,” said Reilly on the future of the Self Care line, “We already have major publications like the Chicago Tribune, PUNCH Drink, and The Oregonian calling us out as one of the best non-alcoholic beer producers in the country.” Now, the goal is to find strategic partners with the brewing capacity to launch the brand in retail across the PNW. 

“The non-alcoholic beer segment of the adult beverage category in the United States is about to get super noisy,” says Reilly, “[but] absolutely nobody in the Pacific Northwest is doing anything on the scale of what we are doing, with a 100% dedicated non-alcoholic craft beer brand with rotational one-offs. So we feel very good about the longevity of Self Care if we can hit major retail before there is too much noise in the market.”

Breweries aren’t the only spots getting in on the popularity of non-alcoholic drinks – many restaurants and bars are persuing creative, innovative drinks, too! Check out our article on 6 Great Spokane Spots for Innovative Mocktails and Non-Alcoholic Drinks.

Olivia Abramson

Olivia is a Tri Cities-based freelance writer focused on crafting content for food, wine, and travel brands. She’s Level 2 WSET Certified and runs her blog, Liv Eats Local, where she tracks her travel adventures and shares wine guides and recipes. When she’s not writing, she’s often seen bikepacking the PNW or helping her husband run his catering company in the heart of Washington Wine Country.


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