Budweiser Zero is alcohol-free, sugar-free but—we hope—not flavor-free

Dwyane Wade poses with a can of Budweiser Zero
Dwyane Wade poses with a can of Budweiser Zero
Photo: Budweiser

When I was growing up, we typically kept a supply of O’Douls in the fridge, tucked away on the back of the shelf to be presented to the stray unenthusiastic but appreciative sober guest at backyard parties. In 2020, however, there are a plethora of alcohol-free options, and this week, Budweiser has introduced another offering to the growing sober portfolio: Budweiser Zero, which contains zero alcohol, zero sugar, and 50 calories.

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According to a press release, Budweiser Zero was developed in part by former NBA player Dwyane Wade, who “helped define Budweiser Zero’s core attributes, including the design of the sleek packaging.” It really does look like a nice can of beer, retaining the classic look of Budweiser’s vintage design with an icy minimalist color scheme. This seems like a good way to signal to the drinker that this is a Bud like any other; perhaps this was a conscious choice not to “other” sober or sober-curious customers. It’s a true 0.0% ABV beer, which is notable given that other leading N/A beers often contain 0.4-0.5% alcohol.

Alcohol-free beverages are steadily getting better at inclusive marketing, targeting sober and non-sober consumers with the same product. With Wade as the face of this new drink, it’s easy for Budweiser to tout it as a no-brainer for anyone with an active lifestyle; the press release explains that “Wade helped create Budweiser Zero with the athlete in mind: someone who wants the great taste of a Budweiser without the after-effects of alcohol, particularly while training or in season.”

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Of course, critics will joke that Budweiser might as well be selling cans of water, but given our nation’s love affair with seltzer, is that really such a bad thing? Flavorful or not, if it’s refreshing, hydrating, and bubbly, there’s likely to be a market for it.

Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.

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