Why alcohol-free beer may be the perfect summer tipple

Sales of alcohol-free beer have soared in recent years, as punters flock to enjoy a raft of new products

By Tim Gibson

Picture the scene. It’s the hottest weekend of the year. The family’s headed off to the supermarket in search of beef burgers and ice pops, leaving you at home with a lawn to mow. You know it’s going to be a hot job, but the grass has got so long your son has lost his football in it, and you can’t recall the last time you saw the cat. So you steel yourself for action.

    ...the satisfaction of a glass of chilled lager without the attendant risk of inebriation or dehydration.  

If only there were a cool, restorative drink you could sip as you work. One that would give you the satisfaction of a glass of chilled lager without the attendant risk of inebriation or dehydration.

Well, turns out there is, in the form of alcohol-free beer. You vaguely remember buying some when your “Dry January”-observing friends came round for a Chinese. You’ve put it out of your mind since then, convinced it would be about as flavoursome as some chilled water from the toilet bowl.

But maybe now’s the moment to try it. After all, Olympians have reportedly taken to drinking the stuff to aid their post-workout recovery. And if it’s good enough for multiple medal-winners like Magdalena Neuner and Michael Greis, it’s surely good enough for you as you drag the Mountfield around the garden.

And here’s the thing: it actually tastes pretty darn fantastic. With sweat dripping down your back, the cool crisp finish of Erdinger Alkoholfrei lager is remarkably refreshing.

Maybe it is no surprise, therefore, that sales of alcohol-free beer have gone up by 381pc over the last two years, or that industry insiders see it as a growth market for pubs and retailers.

There are two reasons for the surge in popularity. One, a generation of younger drinkers is keen to limit its weekly booze intake, but doesn’t want to miss out on the social aspects of a good session. With a range of eminently drinkable alcohol-free beers available in pubs and supermarkets, these people have the best of both worlds: a genuine beer-drinking experience, with none of the tipsiness, risk of liver damage or loss of inhibition.

The second reason relates to a proliferation of alcohol-free craft ales, such as Brewdog’s market-leading Nanny State IPA. These products form part of a wider range of beers that trendy drinkers are flocking towards. And for the first time ever, alcohol-free doesn’t equate to taste-free. They’re decent ales, made by proper brewers. They’ve made alcohol-free beer not just acceptable, but actually rather cool.

Added to this, there are health benefits associated with alcohol-free beer – hence its popularity among professional athletes. It’s not just that it’s a fair substitute for real beer. Manufacturers are now selling it as a positive healthy choice, to be enjoyed in circumstances where a normal beer just wouldn’t be appropriate.

So it is that the likes of Heineken and Peroni, which both have alcohol-free offerings on the market, have started advertising in gyms and at sports events. The idea is that beer makes a refreshing alternative to a sports drink, giving all the same benefits as a product like Lucozade, but with the unique thirst-slaying ability of a decent pint.

    Manufacturers are now selling it as a positive healthy choice,...  

Having worked my way through a variety of alcohol-free beers last weekend while lawn mowing, cricket playing, barbecue cooking, car cleaning, and even at one point dog walking (cue concerned looks from the neighbours, who clearly haven’t caught up with the alco-free beer trend and therefore saw my can-in-hand stroll as a cry for help), I can say that their rising popularity is well deserved. I find myself wondering if I’ll ever drink conventional beer again.

After all, when alcohol-free tastes this good, and can be enjoyed any time, why would you choose the hard stuff?

Published: 4 July 2019

© 2019 Just Recruitment Group Ltd

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