Low Gravity on the Rise: A Sociocultural Examination of Low Alcohol Beer in the United States

  • Colleen C. MylesEmail author
  • Paepin D. Goff
  • Delorean Wiley
  • Alexander Savelyev


Although the trend in craft brewing over the past several decades has been toward bigger, bolder brews, often positioned as a specific counterpoint to bland, light-colored, mass-distributed macro brands, “small”, low gravity, and nonalcoholic beer varieties are on the rise. Using examples from the United States (US), this paper explores the increasing demand for low- to no-alcohol beer, surveying the sociocultural motivations for, and contemporary patterns of, the production and consumption of “near” or “session” beer. Based on a review of scholarly and popular literature, social media mentions, and regulatory restrictions, this paper identifies and describes the factors driving the growing demand for low gravity beers, such as: dietary and health preferences, regulation and taxation, mounting awareness and acknowledgment of the dangers of drinking and driving, and an overall decrease in social stigma associated with non-alcoholic beverages. In the competitive craft brewing industry, it is imperative that producers understand their markets. Indeed, the benefits of expanding low- to no-alcohol beer production could be significant for breweries of any size. This paper explores both opportunities and challenges associated with the rise in popularity of low- to no-alcohol beer, and traces the contours of who stands to gain from growth within this particular beer segment.


Craft Beer Low alcohol Alcohol by volume (ABV) Regulation Fermentation Cultural geography Twitter 



This paper represents a sometimes overwhelming but, nevertheless, wholly collective effort by the research team. In addition to acknowledging the challenges and thrills of working with new collaborators, we would also like to applaud the formal and informal research assistance provided by Dr. Vaughn Bryan Baltzly and Mr. Colton Coiner. Many thanks are due to the brewers and bartenders who have helped us along the way as we explore—and find inspiration in—the world of beer(s), big and small.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colleen C. Myles
    • 1
    Email author
  • Paepin D. Goff
    • 1
  • Delorean Wiley
    • 1
  • Alexander Savelyev
    • 1
  1. 1.Texas State UniversitySan MarcosUSA

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