Please note that my blogs on Alcohol free and Low Alcohol Drinking have moved to here
In these blogs about alcohol free and low alcohol drinking, I will be looking at the production, choice and availability in the UK.
There are a number of reasons that we should take alcohol free and low alcohol drinking seriously.
Whether, you are a wholesaler or retailer of alcoholic beverages or are in the hospitality trade serving drinks to customers, you have a responsibility to encourage sensible drinking and you may find that offering a reasonable range of alcohol free and low alcohol beers and wines will boost your sales.
If I’m the nominated driver on a night out, I would choose a pub or restaurant that allows me to have a choice of alcohol free wine and beer rather than a kid’s drink as an alternative to wine or beer.
According to the NHS, 90% of men and 86% of women drink alcohol and I am no exception. There are times, however, when I and other people choose not to drink full strength alcoholic drinks:
- Being the nominated driver;
- Wanting to keep a clear head during business functions;
- On a diet and other health reasons;
- Alcohol addiction;
- Not liking the taste of Ethanol aka alcohol which ‘burns’ the back of the throat;
- Various other reasons including religious grounds.
Most pubs offer a choice of one alcohol free lager, most commonly Becks Blue yet there is a huge choice of others. Most, if not all German breweries offer a de-alcoholised version of their beers!
This shows a lack of imagination to attract drivers and non-drinkers into pubs when many are crying out for more custom. I will concede that pubs are traditionally watering holes for the consumption of ales, lagers and spirits. Hotels and restaurants have no excuse.
Hotels and restaurants in most cases, like pubs, will offer an alcohol free lager but do not offer alcohol free or low alcohol wines. Hotels and restaurants are predominantly selling a meal combined with atmosphere.
Dining out with a glass of wine, is a magical experience, which is ruined when, as a nominated driver, you have to have a fruit juice or pop. It would be so easy to at least offer a simple alcohol free or low alcohol range of wine even if it’s merely a choice of white, red or rosé by the bottle.
Are non-alcoholic wines and beers totally free of alcohol? It is physically impossible to remove 100% of the alcohol from fermented wines and beers but all de-alcoholised wines and beers meet one of the UK legal definitions of a non-alcoholic beverage:
- ‘non-alcoholic’ – no alcohol at all;
- ‘alcohol free’ – is for drinks not above 0.05% abv (need to drink 100 bottles to be equivalent to drinking one bottle at 5% abv lager)
- ‘de-alcoholised’ – is not above 0.5% abv (need to drink 24 glasses to be equivalent to drinking 1 glass of 12% abv wine)
- ‘low alcohol’ – is not above 1.2% abv (need to drink 4 bottles to be equivalent to drinking one bottle at 5% abv lager or 10 glasses to be equivalent to drinking 1 glass of 12% abv wine)
To put things into further perspective, some orange juices have more than 0.05% alcohol and even an overripe banana can contain 1% alcohol and malt vinegar is 0.2% alcohol.
For those watching their weight de-alcoholised and low alcohol wines contain roughly one third the calaories of alcoholic wines.
The taste of de-alcoholised wine is lighter and less robust than wines with alcohol, so they will not satisfy all palates, however, I find them lighter and smoother and very easy to drink. I particularly like the fact that there is no acidic after taste or a burning feeling in the back of my throat caused by Ethanol (alcohol).