As the founder of the Fungtional Brew Company, last year I launched a range of functional craft beers: Fungtn is the first adaptogenic, alcohol-free beer brewed with functional mushrooms—a premium craft beer range, brewed to 0.5% that complements daily routine, using ancient, healing adaptogens in a modern context.
We are at a crossroads where consumers want more from the foods and drinks they consume. The search for ‘immunity’ peaked on Google in March 2021, showing that consumers want to take health and wellness into their own hands. Almost one-third of British adults are moderating or reducing their alcohol intake, which now joins the groups of customers looking to reduce sugar, processed foods, and meat and dairy intake. This has led consumers to an amalgamation of traditional FMCG foods into the health and wellness space.
Consumers often put a lot of physical and mental stress onto themselves through thoughts, actions and toxins. Super foods’ compounds such as adaptogens, of which ginger, ashwagandha, and functional mushrooms are just a few, can help consumers eliminate toxins, eat well, and get lots of sleep (this does not always go to plan). We brew craft beer with functional mushrooms that function as adaptogens. They help support consumers to adapt to stresses and help keep their mind and body in good form.
Adaptogens are an igneous class of plants and fungi that help the body balance and perform at its best—helping regulate hormone levels, immunity function, blood sugar and cognitive functions such as focus and sleep patterns. Adaptogenic mushrooms have been used in traditional medicine and wellness for thousands of years, and now science is backing up this ancient wisdom with the evidence that this superfood class of fungi contain complex bioavailable compounds that help to support and balance consumers internal systems.
These superfood fungi have a unique earthy, nutty, bitter, sweet flavour profile similar to hops. It’s one reason they are a natural partner for craft beer, plus they are not psychoactive.
Insights into the functional beer market
The global functional drinks market is set to reach £208 billion in 2024. A wide range of consumers are looking for added benefits in the types of products they consume regularly. This, combined with innovative NPD and deeper research into plants such as CBD and adaptogens, means more data reassures consumers and informs their choices. Consumers are also becoming more comfortable with terms such as adaptogens and nootropics. This is a big growth market and a key identified future trend for health and wellness.
Great craft beer can be made with reduced fermentation and added health benefits. In the future, ABV will be just another ingredient of great beer, and the flavour and craft of the brew will stay front and centre whatever the alcohol content.
Cheers to International Beer Day!