5 Currently Trending Non-Traditional Beers

5 Currently Trending Non-Traditional Beers
5 Currently Trending Non-Traditional Beers

Technically, beer is a carbonated, alcoholic, fermented beverage made from grain, water, hops, and yeast. However, through the years, beer has evolved so that the beer brewing process has become subject to artistic and independent interpretation by the industry’s many players.

As a case in point, you can visit an online liquor store Abu Dhabi and find many beers that wouldn’t have been part of any store’s beer selection decades ago.

However, many people would argue that beer brewing hasn’t changed much through the years. And they’d be right. The art of brewing beer is centuries old, and the general process hasn’t changed much through all that time.

However, in many small ways and countless minute details, the beer brewing process has indeed changed and is expected to continue to change. For instance, did you know that the Reinheitsgebot, the 16th-century Bavarian beer purity law, recognised only grain, water, and hops as the official beer ingredients? Only later was yeast added to the “official” ingredients list.

Of course, yeast was already there since the beginning; they simply did not know about it yet. Without yeast, fermentation wouldn’t have been possible.

The point is, even if, for the most part, beer seems to have remained true to tradition, it is not immune to evolution, as demonstrated by the preponderance of craft beer and the following non-traditional beer styles.

Non-Standard ABV Beers

Ethyl alcohol or ethanol is the primary alcohol found in beers. However, beers may also have fusel alcohol, which is a byproduct of ethanol fermentation.

Beer typically contains 5% alcohol by volume or ABV. In truth, though, beers have widely varying ABVs, although mainstream, commercial brews do indeed have typical ABVs.

According to CraftBeer.com, a Brewers Association publication, beer can have less than 3.2% to greater than 14% ABV. That covers a whole gamut of alcohol content. Less than 3.2% includes no alcohol beers, around 4.5-5% ABV pertains to regular beers, while greater than 5% ABV refers to high alcohol beers.

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Alcohol-Free or No Alcohol Beers

Alcohol-free beers are beers that contain less than one-half percent (<0.5%) ABV. They have so little alcohol they won’t put you in danger of nasty hangovers. In fact, they won’t even get you drunk at all.

Technically, no-alcohol beers still contain alcohol. They have about the same alcohol content as a very ripe banana. They have such little alcohol content that you need to consume at least 10 cans of 12-ounce regular 5% ABV beer to get “one standard drink” per the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism standard.

Brewers make alcohol-free beers the same way they make alcoholic beers. In other words, alcohol-free beers start as alcoholic beers. The brewers simply employ specific techniques to take the alcohol out or reduce their alcohol content.

High Alcohol Beers

High alcohol beers refer to beers that have higher than the typical 5% ABV. So, technically, a 6% ABV is high alcohol beer.

Of course, for most people, the thought of high alcohol beer typically conjures up a vision of beers with significantly much higher alcohol content. Think Brewmeister Snake Venom, which has 67.5% ABV, or Brewmeister Armageddon, with 65% ABV.

High alcohol beers have unique requirements, and they are made by employing various strategies. A brewer can add dry malt extract to increase his wort’s sugar content, thus producing more alcohol with fermentation.

Brewers may also use yeast strain selection, low-temperature fermentation, secondary fermentation, and bottle conditioning to achieve higher alcohol content.

Non-Standard Flavour Beers

If you recall, there are four main ingredients to beer-making: grain, water, hops, and yeast. From these four and the particular beer brewing process spring a beer’s flavour.

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Lightly kilned malted barley will yield different flavours from roasted malted barley. Similarly, lightly hopped and heavily hopped beers will manifest different aromas. The length of ageing, type of yeast, and conditioning method likewise have distinct effects on beer flavours.

But the upswing in craft breweries (i.e., small, independent breweries) has given rise to an even more comprehensive range of flavour-defining variables. Craft brewers are introducing more innovative and progressive techniques and adding non-traditional ingredients to brewing beer.

This trend has resulted in beers that defy the traditional beer flavour, generally known as specialty beers.

Fruit Beers

Fruit beers are beers that contain fruit. Specifically, they are beers to which fruit – fresh, frozen, or pureed – or fruit extracts and flavourings have been added at any time during the beer brewing process. In the end, the fruit must be evident in the beer’s flavour and aroma.

To make fruit beer, a brewer may add the fruit during the boiling stage, in other words, while boiling the wort. Brewers typically add flavouring hops and other flavouring ingredients at this stage. Thus, it makes sense to add the fruit at this stage, as well.

The strength of the resulting fruit flavour will vary depending on the length of boiling and the phase of the boiling process (typically near the end) the brewer adds the fruit.

Some brewers, however, let the fruit ferment with the boiled wort. This introduces a whole new depth of fruit flavour. And the breweries that use fruit extracts typically add the extracts at the end of the entire process, right before bottling or canning. This gives the beer the requisite fruity flavours and aromas without “disturbing the beer’s chemistry,” so to speak.

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Field Beers

Field beers are exactly like fruit beers. However, in the case of field beers, brewers use herbs and vegetables or their extracts instead of fruits.

Hard Seltzers

Hard seltzers are carbonated, alcoholic, fermented beverages – just like beer. And to some people, they taste and drink like beer, plus they’re low-calorie, too.

For all their similarities, however, hard seltzers are not beer. But the same brewers that make beer brew them, package them like beer, and effectively target the same beer-drinking demographic, so hard seltzers deserve mention in this list.

Unlike beer, hard seltzers need not go through mashing and wort boiling but go directly to the fermentation stage. Sugar is added to water, yeast is added to the sugary mixture, and fermentation begins. The result is a clear, alcoholic liquid to which flavouring ingredients may be added. Then it is carbonated, and the result is hard seltzer.

And hard seltzer is popular. In 2019, the hard seltzer market was estimated to be worth $550 million, projected to grow to $2.5 billion by 2021. And its rising popularity among craft brewers will only fuel this growth. 

Non-Traditional Beers to Try

Beer is a drink that has survived centuries. While it has largely remained the same, it has also evolved and changed. The craft brewing trend has accelerated this change, giving rise to no-alcohol beers, extremely high alcohol beers, fruit beers, field beers, and an entirely new category of alcoholic beverages, hard seltzers. And that’s just the tip of the non-traditional beer iceberg.

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