Craft Brew Drinkers Find Balance in Healthy Habits

NEW YORK, N.Y. – A healthy lifestyle and drinking alcohol don’t always go hand-in-hand, but craft beer connoisseurs are finding a happy medium. In fact, 8 in 10 drinking-age Americans who drink craft beer at least once a month consider themselves to be health conscious (slightly more than the 76% of average drinkers – those who drink any alcohol at least a few times per year). Nearly three-quarters of craft brew imbibers (73%) consider alcohol to be an indulgence or special treat, compared to two thirds of average drinkers (67%). This is particularly true among younger craft brew indulgers, including 80% of 21-34 year olds and 77% of those 35-44.

Following this trend, nearly half of all craft beer drinkers (47%) say they only drink alcohol on the weekends (compared to 39% of average drinkers). This is particularly prevalent among Millennial craft beer lovers, with six in 10 (60%) saying they only drink on weekends.

“This presents some interesting challenges to brewers and retailers, but could also represent opportunities,” suggests Danelle Kosmal, Vice President of Nielsen’s Beverage Alcohol Practice. “First, it’s important for brewers to prioritize weekends for their biggest events in-store or at the brew pub and tasting rooms. This is when craft drinkers are thinking most about beer-drinking occasions. However, there also could be new opportunities to engage craft drinkers by creating weekday drinking occasions. Many brewers are already doing this through events like brewery-sponsored yoga or weekly group runs. It is a great way for craft drinkers to stick with their fitness plans, while still engaging in a fun, social activity, and then enjoying a beer with friends who share similar fitness goals and interests.”

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 1,978 U.S. adults aged 21+ (including 1,384 average drinkers and 405 monthly craft brew drinkers) surveyed online between May 24 and 26, 2016.

The healthy habits of craft beer drinkers

Overall, regular craft brew drinkers tend to engage more in healthy lifestyle activities compared to the average beer/wine/spirits drinker. More than half (57%) say they stay healthy by exercising several times per week (vs. 52% of average drinkers). Notably, 40% of craft brew drinkers say they prefer group exercise compared to sweating it out alone (compared to 33% of average drinkers).

For brewers looking to engage this crowd, what’s the best way to entice? With freebies of course! Nearly 2 in 3 craft beer drinkers (64%) say they’re more likely to attend a brewer-sponsored health/wellness event if it includes a beverage or tasting in the event price (compared to just 37% of average drinkers). These numbers jump up even higher among younger craft beer drinkers (73% of 21-34 year olds and 77% of 35-44 year olds).

Looking to other healthy habits, it comes as little surprise that over one quarter of craft beer drinkers seek out food and beverages made locally (27% vs. 21% of average drinkers). Nearly 8 in 10 also read nutritional labels (78% vs. 73% of average drinkers) while just fewer than 2 in 10 tracks their calorie intake (18% vs. 14% of average drinkers).

Alcohol habits for a healthy lifestyle

When it comes to specifically managing alcohol habits in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle, craft beer drinkers tend to simply drink less alcohol (42% vs. 50% of average drinkers): one in 3 say they take time off from drinking (33%) while 2 in 10 turn to spirits or wine instead over beer (21%). Yet again, the habit of taking time off from drinking is most prevalent among Millennial craft beer drinkers (44%).

However, craft brew lovers may be willing to give up more than the average drinker in order to keep alcohol in their diets. Nearly 4 in 10 say they drink lower calorie non-alcoholic beverages in order to indulge in their favorite brews (39% vs. 25% of average drinkers).

Calorie counters

Not too surprisingly given their heightened concern over ingredients and knowledge of types of beer, monthly craft beer drinkers have greater confidence in their knowledge of calorie counts for any type of alcohol compared to the average alcohol drinker. A majority of craft beer drinkers say they are knowledgeable about calories in:

  • Craft beer (67% vs. 33% of average drinkers)
  • Non-craft beer (64% vs. 39%)
  • Spirits/Cocktails (57% vs. 44%)
  • Wine (61% vs. 47%)

Further, nearly three quarters of craft beer drinkers (73%) say it’s true that calorie ranges can vary greatly in craft beer, even within the same style or brand of beer (compared to 65% of average drinkers).




This Harris Poll was conducted online, in English, within the United States between May 24 and 26, 2016 among 1,978 adults aged 21+ (including 1,384 average drinkers and 405 monthly craft brew drinkers). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.  Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll® #42, June 9, 2016

By Allyssa Birth, Senior Research Analyst, The Harris Poll