It was a category that, up until six months ago, he had not taken seriously, said Brown in a speech at the MA500 event in Liverpool today (18 May).
Craft producers, which looked at the beer category differently to the larger brewers, would take a leading role in the development of alcohol-free beer, he added.
“They don’t look at it and say ‘let’s make an alcohol-free version of this beer because we need to’. Instead, they look at what flavours they can use to create a great beer,” said Brown.
‘See more from’
“This is a sector we’re going to see more from. I think it will be possible soon to choose an alcohol-free beer even over a regular one.”
“Drinks companies are starting to take the category more seriously, but in a few years’ time I think it will be better. I think it’s in a flux because there’s no demand because people expect them to be s**t.”
There would be a couple of new launches from some big alcohol companies that would benefit the category and Brown was excited about them. However, he was unable to give any details.
As part of his speech, Brown held a tasting of two alcohol-free beers and one alcohol-free cider.
The first drink was Stowford Press’s 0.5% ABV cider, which is made by brewing cider as usual, before mixing it with apple juice and maturing it in oak vats.
Talking about BrewDog Nanny State Alcohol Free Hoppy Ale, also a 0.5% ABV beer, Brown said: “Nanny State has had the field to itself until recently.
‘Knocks everything out of the water’
“It knocks everything out of the water. It’s what BrewDog do all of the time. You’re getting that massive hit of hops and it tastes like beer and it’s satisfying. A lot of people I know will drink this and look for it”
The third and final was Big Drop’s 0.5% ABV Chocolate Milk Stout. Brown said: “It’s a whole new sphere of flavour and tastes to play with. You’ve got all of these different malts to play with.
“You get that bitterness and chocolate, it’s a drink I could have instead of a porter or a stout.”
“I don’t think these will be on their own very long as more craft brewers will start to get into it.”