Soonish debuts natural beer with gluten-free baking ingredients

29 Jun 2021

Los Angeles micro brewer Soonish now has a beer that is aiming to take the gluten-free beer space and transform it into the “natural beer” category. Soonish-Natural Beer is made using banana, millet, sorghum, and honey, but rather than resulting in a flavor profile reminiscent of a baked good, the natural beer is described as “subtly tart with a hint of sweet citrus.”

This refreshing brew is refreshing in more ways than one with its credentials including gluten-free, low calorie and low sugar, culminating in a brew that has 110 calories in each 4.2% ABV 12-ounce can. The brewery also uses no preservatives or flavoring in its non-GMO brews. Cans of Soonish will be sold at both restaurants and retailers in Los Angeles, CA for the time being. Six-packs will retail for $11.99.

Soonish debuts natural beer with gluten-free baking ingredients
Courtesy of Soonish

The inspiration for Soonish came from the chronic stomach aches experienced by the company’s two founders, Chip Welsh and Greg Maiatico. After years of digestive issues associated with consuming gluten-full beer, the pair looked to craft an alternative that suited their tastes. With the help of a partnership with Jon Carpenter, the light, sipping beer combined Welsh’s and Maiatico’s favorite elements of beer, cider, hard seltzer, and kombucha.

“In crafting Soonish we sought out an adult beverage that contained the lighter benefits of ‘natural’, while remaining ‘beer-like’,” commented Soonish Co-Founders Greg Maiatico & Chip Welsh in a statement.

Making beer healthier as well as more appealing to a new generation of drinkers has been an ongoing mission for many breweries globally. IWSR data from 2020 showed that beer volume slipped 2.3% in 2019, its fourth straight year of declines. With a shrinking market share to contend with, both Big Beer producers, as well as smaller enterprises, have looked for ways to infuse their brands with qualities that interest today’s consumers. One of these winning strategies has proved to be the gluten-free space.

Although beer is traditionally brewed with wheat, making it a gluten-based beverage, gluten-free has been an attention-grabbing buzzword in recent years, and brewers from Anheuser-Busch to MillerCoors have introduced lagers made with alternative grains such as brown rice and sorghum. Research and Markets found that while the gluten-free category was already strong and worth about $2.7 billion in 2018, it is a category that is estimated to double in size by 2025.

Despite the popularity of gluten-free products, a study from The Hartman Group, 35% of U.S. consumers who buy gluten-free products have no special reason to do so, while 8% said they had a gluten intolerance. These findings are amplified by Safefood, an Ireland-based consumer advocacy organization that found that of the 2,000 it surveyed, 92% of them didn't have a gluten-related disorder or had not been medically diagnosed with celiac disease.

Nevertheless, there is ample investment from both consumers and manufacturers into the space, and gluten-free remains an immensely popular profile for manufacturers to integrate into their products. With market trends in its favor, Soonish’s lighter, simpler, more wholesome alternative is likely to make a splash if and when it increases its distribution.

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