Hop extracts for low and no alcohol beer September 2023
At Totally Natural Solutions (TNS) we have been at the forefront of liquid hop research and development for over a decade, aiming to push the boundaries of brewing. Our mission is to enable all brewers to have access to the latest natural hop extracts for creating great tasting beer.
We work closely with Invita, our distributor partner in Australia and New Zealand, to offer brewers tuneable hop products to create an enhanced beer-drinking experience. The HopInspiration® portfolio gives brewers the ability to produce great beer across a range of beer styles every time.
The consumption of alcohol has been a part Australia and New Zealand’s social culture, however this has evolved as consumers are becoming more mindful of their alcohol consumption. In New Zealand data has shown that 2.1 million consumers either bought or were open to buying non-alcoholic beverages leading up to January 20231. There is a similar trend in Australia, with the market expected to grow by 8.1% by 20242. Brewers are tapping into this segment, creating beers through different techniques each with their own advantages and challenges.
Brewing Non-Alcoholic and Low-Alcohol Beer (NABLAB)
Depending on the size of breweries, various NABLAB processes will be used including thermal, physical, biological and formulated. All of these create a beer with a unique flavour and aroma profile with its own set of challenges.
Many multinational breweries have invested in vacuum distillation processes, allowing them to remove alcohol from beer until it is <0.5%. This can be a harsh process, removing fermented ester flavours. To help with microbial stability the beer can be pasteurised, resulting in cooked notes. The equipment required for dealcoholisation has a high capital cost which is not viable for everyone, so we are seeing craft breweries test the boundaries. They are exploring different routes such as adjusting their mash regimes and using special yeast which allows them to keep the ester flavours. However, other flavour compounds can be produced, and there can be extra costs involved including freezers for yeast strains and other special kit.
All these brewing techniques can create sensory defects in the final beer – most commonly a lack of body and a strong malty flavour.
Alcohol is such an important ingredient in beer – not only from a microbial standpoint but also for aroma, flavour and mouthfeel. You can use different brewing techniques to create a NABLAB, but it will never be a 100% match for an alcoholic version. Alcohol contributes towards mouthfeel and flavour, and it also helps volatilise other flavours so they are more aromatic. Hence NABLABs have a tendency to be perceived as lacking body and less flavoursome, even if the flavour compounds are present. Using our HopInspiration hop extracts our team have found we can overcome these defects and boost NABLABs to another level.
Advantages of Using Hop Extracts in NABLABs
Our R&D team specialise in hop extracts and are continuously researching how hops can enhance consumers drinking experience of NABLABs. Hops contain a huge variety of components that can be split into 3 principle brewing functions: alpha acids for bitterness, beta acids for microbial stability and hop oils, through late and dry hop addition, for aroma and flavour. However, when brewing a NABLAB the extraction of these components can be inefficient often resulting in worty notes, flavour off notes and lack of body.
Delving deeper into the volatile oils present, there are specific compounds contributing towards aroma and flavour. We have divided these into 3 main groups: hydrocarbons, oxygenated compounds and sulphur compounds. For example, myrcene is a hydrocarbon commonly found in beer and can be easily identified as a green grassy note.
There are >500 compounds in hop oil and not all of them have a distinctive aroma or flavour. Using our proprietary fractionation technology, we have been able to identify and isolate these hidden components. Through R&D development we have identified special fractions with a functional benefit, making them well suited for NABLABs.
These fractions are now part of our HopZero® range, including HopZero® Body for enhancing mouthfeel, HopZero® Clarity for masking off notes, and HopZero® Fruity for an increased fruity ester flavour. Combined with HopShot® for late hop flavour, and HopBurst® for dry hop aroma, the HopInspiration® range helps brewers enhance their consumers tasting experience. These are all natural, microbially stable and 100% from hop, a real game changer for NABLABs.
The NABLAB category is here to stay. It is an exciting segment as it is tapping into new drinking occasions for the consumer. Due to this, we are seeing more breweries add NABLABs to their portfolio to keep up with consumer needs. However, it is challenging to brew a beer that mimics an alcoholic version while providing consumers with no compromise on taste. The HopInspiration® range can help brewers overcome the flavour gap lost from removing the alcohol, ensuring the drinking experience is equivalent to drinking an alcoholic beer. We understand that every brew is different so we aim to work with brewers to push the boundaries of what is possible and create great tasting beer. Together we can create a new era of brewing excellence.
- Nicasio, F. (2023). The rise (and rise) of the non-alcoholic beverage industry. Retrieved from Tracksuit: https://www.gotracksuit.com/blog/the-rise-and-rise-of-the-non-alcoholic-beverage-industry#:~:text=Our%20data%20at%20Tracksuit%20shows,2.1%20million%20in%20January%202023.&text=A%20similar%20trend%20can%20be%20seen%20in%20Australia.
- Statista. (2023). Non-Alcohlic beer – Australia. Retrieved from Statista: https://www.statista.com/outlook/cmo/alcoholic-drinks/beer/non-alcoholic-beer/australia