ST. LOUIS (KMOX)-If you could find a good-tasting, craft beer that does not contain alcohol, would you drink it? A St. Louisan is banking on it.
Jeff Stevens’ plan is operate America’s first craft brewery that brews only non-alcoholic beer. “There are lots of great craft brewers,” he says. “And there are a few non-alcoholic beers. But no one has put the two together yet.”
O’Fallon Brewing will make the beer for Stevens’ “Wellbeing Brewing Company” using a new process from Munich, Germany that, he says, gently removes the alcohol. “It removes it so gently the beer barely notices. We’ve tasted lots of beers brewed with these same machines and they’re really, really good.”
Stevens, a longtime beer marketer who doesn’t drink, says the market for N/A beers is growing overseas, and the trends in the states are in his favor. “There’s a huge health and wellness trend which is a big industry in all kinds of product categories. There’s a lot of studies and research in sober movements in the states that are saying people are just drinking less and millennials especially.
Unlike most current N/A beers, Stevens says his won’t just be lagers. “We’re going to start by brewing an English brown ale coming out of the gate, a golden wheat and next summer we hope to get into a radler and a stout.”
He has already picked out names for his first two, Hellraiser and Heavenly Body.
While he may open a brewery at some point in the future, Stevens says he’ll start by selling in stores and delivering to customers. He also hopes to get into bars, where he thinks a good N/A option will be the perfect third or fourth beer. “You’ve had a few. You don’t want to drink anymore alcohol for all kinds of different reasons, but you want to hang out. You still want to stay. You still want to see the band. It’s the seventh inning. Whatever it is, I think we can really do well.”
How well does he think he can do? “I had read somewhere that this category could be the biggest innovation in the beer industry in 900 years.”
Stevens hopes to have tastings for his first beers in mid-October and begin selling six-packs by January, if not sooner. “When it tastes good,” he says, “we’ll see it on the shelves.”