Monday, 25 August 2014

Was alcohol-free beer really a gaffe?

I've just read the results of a survey by ComRes (commissioned by AB InBev UK) stating that drinking alcohol-free beer is now seen as more socially acceptable than it was 5 years ago in the opinion of 49% of those surveyed, with 59% saying they'd now be comfortable ordering it in front of friends in public.

I find this all rather strange because I hadn't realised that ordering alcohol-free beer had ever been viewed as a social blunder. It never bothered me in the past when driving to far flung music events where a pint consisting of a half of bitter topped up with an alcohol-free beer would mean that I could have three weak pints quite safely over an evening.

The only explanation I can come up with is there must be a macho attitude that real men don't drink anything but the real thing. I had a J2O in a pub before a four-hour drive last Saturday, and didn't in any way regard it as embarrassing (I know that's not alcohol-free beer, but I think the principle is similar).

But thinking about it, perhaps it could just be a fake image problem created for marketing purposes so that brewers can now get the message across that "surveys show it's now okay to drink this pariah drink!"

My problem with non-alcohol beers and low alcohol beers (or NABLABs as we used to call them) was that I found they invariably tasted bland, tinny and not quite genuine. They're mostly lagers, although I remember a 1% bottled bitter from Whitbread called White Label. Nowadays, if I'm in a pub and driving, I'd prefer to drink real ale safely within the limit or have a soft drink or coffee.


  1. Cooking Lager may well be along to point out that drinking alcohol-free beer is much more common and socially acceptable in Germany, generally in situations where people would have a soft drink here.

    I remember a blogpost from someone saying he did a double-take when he saw an obviously pregnant woman in Germany drinking an alcohol-free beer.

  2. Alc-free beers have got better since the days of Kaliber only. My, that was a nasty concoction. It's just a pity that pubs here would prefer to sell sickly pasteurised orange juice rather than explore many of the good Alc-free beers that our European cousins now offer as standard. A


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