Trending in Beer: 2024 Predictions

Backbar 2024 Beer Trends
// By Malika Wichner // , Sep 28, 2023

Backbar knows time flies when you're trying to run a successful bar or restaurant. The beverage industry is constantly changing, adapting, and growing to keep up with consumer trends and desires. That's why it's so important that your inventory matches what customers are craving to ensure you keep them coming back for more.


The beer industry in particular is always expanding and changing. Training your staff on beer and keeping up with the trends is paramount. Finding new and unique ways to capture people's attention with fresh flavors and interesting brewing techniques is always at the forefront of breweries' minds. They make fun and innovative brews so you can wow your guests with your curated selection. Here, we're going to help you stay on trend and take a look at what beer trends we see dominating in 2024. 


1. Alcohol-Free "Sober Curious" Crowd 


This trend is especially popular with Millennials (currently ages 27-42) and drinking age Gen Zers (currently ages 11 to 26). Gen Z in particular has started a "sober curious" movement, which simply can be described as a desire to live without excess social or private drinking habits. They're drinking 20% less than other generations did at their age.


Non-alcoholic beer is brewed just like regular beer, but the alcohol is removed through a process called reverse osmosis, vacuum distillation, or by stopping fermentation before the alcohol level gets too high. The end result is a beer that looks and tastes like regular beer but contains less than 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV).


Beer callouts-05


The rise in interest in alcohol-free options has led to tons of big brands releasing non-alcoholic beer options. With health and wellness becoming a priority for many consumers, there has been a noticeable shift towards lighter and healthier beverage options. This has created a demand for beers with lower alcohol content or no alcohol at all, which has been met by breweries introducing new products to cater to this growing segment. That's why we suggest your bar or restaurant offer at least a few choices to appeal to this ever-growing crowd. 



Here are some of the top-selling non-alcoholic beers: 

2. Craft Beer Hanging On 


Craft breweries have been popping up all over the country more and more, offering consumers a wide range of options when it comes to beer styles and flavors. Some may say the craft beer industry is starting to cool off, but we beg to differ. This trend is being driven by a desire for more artisanal and locally produced products, as well as a growing interest in supporting small businesses.


Opening up at least one draft at your bar to a rotating local brewery is going to help you stand out and appeal to the artisanal-loving crowd. Not to mention you'll be supporting a fellow local business and creating a relationship with them. In addition, a rotating tap instantly gives guests a sense of urgency to drink it before it's gone. 


Beer callouts-06

Craft breweries as constantly competing to stay on top and create crowd-catching offerings. Some popular niche craft beer flavor categories include:


Sours: The unique tartness and vast amount of flavor combination options with sour beer have made it a popular, niche product.


Lagers: Okay, yes lagers are not a niche category. But, there was a time when lagers were overlooked by the craft beer community. Now, more micro-breweries have added a few larger options to their menu.


Hazy: As for hazy beers, these "juicy" beers are easy to drink and appeal to people who aren't a fan of the bitter taste of other beers. Not to mention the more opaque coloring looks pleasing to the eye when poured.



Rose Beers: We started to see rose beers pop up in 2021. But, as everyone fully recovers from the pandemic we think this trend is going to try again. Inspired by the sweet, pink wine, this hybrid brew is fermented with grapes to give rise to flavor notes but in a beer.


Find out how to price draft vs. bottled beer here.


3. Beers Containing CBD


Cannabidiol, commonly referred to as simply CBD, is an active ingredient in cannabis (also known as marijuana). Cannabis includes both the “high”-inducing compound THC and CBD. Unlike if you simply consume cannabis, CBD by itself does not result in a “high.” However, it still has specific medical effects.


Selling CBD-infused alcoholic beverages is not currently legal in the U.S., according to the FDA. This is why almost all current CBD beers are alcohol-free. In this still-growing space, businesses have also created other non-alcoholic beverages with CBD, including seltzers, still waters, and even sparkling tea and juice.


Even though there is a ton of mystery and legality behind CBD-infused drinks, the market is there and we believe more and more companies will dip their toe into it and try and be the first to really get a hold on it's market value. 



4. Hard Seltzer Still Going Strong


There was a moment where you may have thought hard seltzer's time had come and gone, but according to sales that's simply not true. With RTDs on the rise, seltzers are still holding their own in the alcohol space.


Beer callouts-07


Revenue in the hard seltzer market amounts to $17.24 billion in 2023. The market is expected to grow annually by 8.51% (compound annual growth (CAGR) 2023-2027). In global comparison, most revenue is generated in the United States ($17,240.00 million in 2023).

Currently, the most popular hard seltzers include: 

  • White Claw

  • Truly

  • Bon Viv

  • Nauti

  • High Noon

  • Vizzy

  • Spindriff Spiked

  • Topo Chico

  • Corona Hard Seltzer

  • Bud Light Seltzer


When choosing a hard seltzer to add to your drink menu you'll want to take into consideration brand AND flavor. With tons of seasonal flavors in addition to popular standard flavors, like White Claws ever popular Black Cherry, having a variety is a good Idea. You can as your distributor the most popular flavors or use your own in-house historical data to discover what seems to sell the best. 


5. Boozy Booch - Hard Kombucha Climbing 


We keep talking about how the spirit industry is always evolving, but that's because it is. Something like Hard Kambucha didn't even exist 20 years ago and now it has it's own market. Kombucha is a fermented tea that actually started to make waves in the U.S. in the '90s. Kombucha started to gain more and more popularity in the 2010s because of its "health benefits." Now, hard kombucha bosts a alcholic option to kambucha lovers. 


Spirits callout-10


Kombucha is fermented and it's the fermentation process that creates alcohol. But, the regular kombucha you see at health food stores will be below 0.5% ABV and therefore is non-alcoholic. Hard kombucha, also called "boozy booch," is fermented for longer, giving rise to more sugars being converted to alcohol. Some hard kombucha alcohol content can be as high as wine, reaching 11% ABV.


Kombucha is much lower in calorie content than beer, making it the perfect alternative for consumers seeking a healthier lifestyle. 



6. Ready-to-Drink Dominating


The ready-to-drink(RTD) craze is going to be the biggest hit as we round out 2023 and head into 2024. Factors like convenience, on-the-go lifestyle, time-saving, product innovation, health and wellness, the growing beverage alcohol market, marketing and branding, and changing consumer preferences are all driving RTDs to the top of the popularity charts. Combined with changing consumer dynamics and market trends, contributing to the growth and expansion of the RTD market.


Beer callouts-08 (1)


 The RTD industry is segmented by type of products. Malt Based RTD, Spirit Based RTD, Wine Based RTD, and High Strength Premixes. According to Union, there are the top-selling RTDs at bars and restaurants: 

Top-Selling Malt-Based RTD Brands at Union  

Ranked by dollar sales share

  1. White Claw
  2. Truly Hard Seltzer
  3. Topo Chico Hard Seltzer
  4. Twisted Tea Hard Iced Tea
  5. Bud Light Seltzer
  6. Smirnoff Ice
  7. Karback Hard Seltzer
  8. Lone River
  9. Two Robbers
  10. Maui Hard Seltzer

Top-Selling Spirit-Based RTD Brands at Union  

Ranked by dollar sales share

  1. High Noon
  2. Nütrl  
  3. The Long Drink
  4. Canteen Spirits
  5. Cutwater Spirits
  6. Slim Chillers
  7. Elenita Sparkling Mezcal
  8. Topo Chico Hard Seltzer
  9. Truly Vodka Soda
  10. Coral Spirits & Company

7. Hop Water - The Next Big Thing


 Just like the name suggests, hop water is the non-alcoholic combination of hops and water that can be bottled, canned, or even served as a draft. Since the process of making it is simple and quick breweries are taking a chance to use hop water as a way to expand their non-alcoholic options. According to NielsonIQ’s Off Premises data, between August 2021 and August 2022, hop waters generated $5.5 million in sales, surging by 142.5% from the year prior.
While hop water is a brewing non-alcoholic option, some companies don't want to market it with their non-alcoholic beers. Simply put, to create a non-alcoholic beer you're removing the alcohol from the product or stopping the process before enough alcohol can develop. This can make the flavor feel watered down or incomplete. But with hop water, you get to enjoy a full creation that celebrates the taste of hops with no alcohol involved. The final product has a full flavor and has a seltzer-like mouth feel at times. 


Malika Wichner

About the author, Malika Wichner

Malika is the Marketing Content Manager for Backbar. Prior to creating content to link industry professionals to Backbar she worked as a bartender and server in Chicago. She enjoys red wine or an IPA with a good book in her free time.

Take the next step to simplify bar inventory with Backbar

Get it in the App StoreGet it on Google Play

Replace spreadsheets with a flexible platform that connects each step of inventory management. From taking counts to costing drinks, Backbar helps you strengthen your bar program.