Picture of beers being servedTo look at the publicity surrounding beer and health you'd think we were a nation of borderline alcoholics - so it will come as a surprise to many to learn that supermarket sales of low alcohol and zero alcohol beer have grown some 40% in the last 12 months. The figure, reported in the Guardian, are being attributed to improved taste and increased consciousness of health issues.

The industry started in the 1980s with high-profile brands advertised by the likes of Billy Connolly, by then a teetotaller and not necessarily through choice. He would claim Kaliber had all the taste of lager - which, frankly, it didn't.


Brands like Bavaria have since come to the fore, with Tesco, Waitrose and other supermarkets reporting that people are increasingly coming out for lower-alcohol variants. These have also been given a huge boost by the Chancellor's announcement in the last budget that beers with a strength of 2.8% or below (compared to an average 4%) will have duty cut in half. This means supermarkets are going to start promoting inexpensive, lower-strength beers as of March, and the breweries are rushing to make sure that quality isn't compromised.

Recognition

Camra, the Campaign for Real Ale, has no qualms about recognising the beers as the genuine article. It has reported a tasting of them at the All Parliamentary Beer Group on its website.

Jon Howard, CAMRA Press Manager, said in a statement sent to AOL Money:

"Low strength beers are a great selling point for licensees seeking to offer further choice at the bar, as well as making it easier for people to regulate their drinking.

"Brewers have already proven in a short time that it is possible to brew a low strength beer packed with flavour and aroma. Furthermore, our research on the subject last year showed how 1 in every 2 regular pub goers would like to see more pubs serving such a beer."

"A lower rate of duty on low strength beers is really a win-win scenario for the industry and Government, and CAMRA hopes to see more of these low ABV thirst quenchers unveiled by brewers in the near future."

Do you enjoy a low alcohol alternative or prefer the real stuff? Let us know in the comments below.