Deschutes Goes Dark with NA Beer Offering

​Looking to expand its portfolio and help welcome in either a new audience or welcome back some who enjoy the flavor of a beer without the alcohol, veteran Oregon brewery Deschutes has announced its intention to enter the non-alcoholic realm with the release of Black Butte NA Porter early this year.

This isn’t the first foray into the NA beer world as the brewery released NA Irish Style Dark in July 2020 as a test run for entry in the non-alcoholic beer segment.

Non-Alcoholic Black Butte will be the first NA beer that Deschutes will offer on store shelves across its distribution footprint. Irish Style Dark was available direct-to-consumer across most of the US via the brewery’s website as well as at its pubs and tasting rooms.

“Despite the limited volume and visibility, the response to the beer has been phenomenal,” said Director Of Product Development​, Veronica Vega​. “We received a tremendous amount of positive feedback from customers, who tell us that we have some of the best NA beer they have ever tasted. We’ve even won several awards for the beer.

“Given our history, we just felt like it makes sense for us to come out with a ​Porter as our first commercial offering of non-alcoholic beer.”

READ MORE: ​Craft NA Beer: Can it Be Profitable?

Deschutes is working in partnership with Sustainable Beverage Technologies, brewing pilot batches on their pilot system to make some proof-of-concept beers. With some learnings on the Irish Style Dark, Vega told Brewer that they were able to arrive at the Black Butte recipe in only two trials.

“We were able to utilize the same specialty malts and hops and used Black Butte original as our point of reference in flavor,” she said. “There was certainly development cost on this but not to the level of the capital investment needed to make large batches.

“From there we were able to get these beers in front of our customers —  including distributor and retailer — to get their direct feedback which was critical to moving this project forward.”

Vega said that SBT offers a patented technology called BrewVo® that creates a real-beer experience through a unique method that gently manages alcohol while maintaining flavor and aroma.

“The beer fully ferments to create the most mentally satisfying non-alcoholic beer drinking experience,” Vega said. “It’s so similar to the real thing that people are often surprised that it’s non-alcoholic.”

She adds the technology can be utilized with almost any brewhouse as it is a cellar operation.

Vega noted that the NA market is currently heavy with light beers, just as the craft beer market was in 1988 when Deschutes launched with Black Butte Porter.

“We​’re​ introducing a ​Porter into this growing category to show that high quality, drinkable, and delicious NA beer can come in all styles,” Vega said. “NA beer drinkers don’t have to settle for light beers.”

While Deschutes currently is focused on a successful launch of Black Butte NA, Vega said they are also working on developing a non-alcoholic IPA.

“There is no firm timeline on the release of that beer at this point but our plan is to offer a line of non-alcoholic beers,” she said. “Overall we are prepared to react to the demand of our customers and are excited about the future of this segment.”

Right now, the brewery plans to sell around 3,000 barrels of Black Butte NA in 2022. A listed price of ​$11.99​ per six-pack was announced.​

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