Originally released in Canada last year, this non-alcoholic take on Budweiser is about to arrive in the UK.
It took nearly 100 years, but prohibition is finally headed to the United Kingdom from the United States. No, not the temperance movement: Alcohol is about as intertwined with British life as the Queen. Instead, later this year, the UK is going to be the latest market for "Budweiser Prohibition Brew"—an alcohol-free release from Anheuser-Busch InBev bearing its flagship brand's name.
Though non-alcoholic beers have yet to take America by storm, the category has been showing signs of significant growth in other parts of the world, particularly Europe. According to the research group Canadean, from 2010 to 2015, the non-alcoholic beer market grew each year while the overall beer market declined. For those reasons, major brands like Heineken are jumping into the N/A game, trying to find growth in what is currently a very competitive beer sector.
Budweiser Prohibition Brew, which originally launched in Canada last year, tells a similar tale of many alcohol-free beers, claiming it's not that different from its alcohol-inclusive counterpart. In Prohibition Brew's case, the brand states, "We're brewing Budweiser Prohibition Brew the same way we've been brewing Budweiser for 140 years. The same key ingredients. The same choice hops. The same yeast. The same filtered water, along with a distinctive beechwood aging process. During the final stages of aging, we remove the alcohol through a special process that results in a taste that's true to the standards of Budweiser."
As simple as it may sound, that last step has been perplexing breweries for as long as they've been trying to perfect alcohol-free beers, and the truth is, no one on Earth has 100 percent nailed a way to make an alcohol-free beer taste like an actual beer. Interestingly, even on the Canadian website for Prohibition Brew, under the question "Does Budweiser Prohibition Brew taste like regular Budweiser?" the brand isn't willing to give a more convincing argument than "Broadly speaking, it shares the same characteristics of regular Budweiser."
Regardless, Prohibition Brew has been successful enough in Canada that AB InBev thinks it's worth bringing this brew across the pond. The N/A offering is scheduled to arrive in the UK "later this year," initially in 330ml cans before expanding to other formats in 2018. AB InBev fittingly timed today's announcement with its eighth annual "Global Be(er) Responsible Day," which promotes responsible drinking. "As well as a great-tasting beer and iconic brand, it is a clear signal of our commitment to smart drinking," said Jason Warner, president of AB InBev North Europe. "As part of our Global Smart Drinking Goals, we're bringing great products to market so consumers can have more choice." At the very least, it'll make for a good American history lesson.