Alcohol-free and low-alcohol beer could be getting stronger as part of a plan to reduce the number of alcohol Brits consume.
Currently, ‘no alcohol’ beer must contain less than 0.05% alcohol by volume (ABV), while ‘low alcohol’ products must be under 1.2%. Under the next prime minister, these limits could be increased to 0.5 and 1% and 3%, respectively.
According to new research, almost a third of pub visits are completely alcohol-free as the trend for moderation amongst drinkers continues to grow.
However, Martin Preston, founder and chief executive at Private Rehab Clinic Delamere, warns that increasing the percentage of low-alcohol beers could pose a risk to those wanting to stay sober or cut back on the long term.
‘Low–alcohol and non-alcoholic beers can be a good alternative for those wanting to reduce their intake while still enjoying a beer’s taste and social experience. By removing the alcohol, you’re taking out a toxic compound that could increase the risk of chronic disease.’
‘However, increasing the percentage within these alternative options defeats the object of low alcohol beer but can have negative implications for those who are recently sober or struggle with alcohol addiction.’
‘Those in recovery may think opting for non-alcohol beers will help them stay sober because they contain little to no alcohol. However, drinks labelled as low or no alcohol can often be misleading, as they will contain the substance at some level.’
‘While increasing the percentage of alcohol in these drinks may not get a person drunk or cause significant health issues like regular alcohol, it may be more than someone is expecting and, in turn, could trigger cravings and subsequent relapse.’
Five reasons why low alcohol beers can be a bad idea
They make you crave alcohol
If you are serious about cutting back, it is often a good idea to steer clear of mocktails as they can make you crave alcohol more than when you drink normally. This is because many brands or pubs managed to perfect the taste of low or no alcohol drinks to be nearly identical to the real thing.
Drinking a beverage that reminds you of the original drink, without the high of intoxication afterwards, can be frustrating when trying to cut back and could lead to giving up.
The term ‘alcohol-free’ can be misleading
Alcohol-free or mocktail-style drinks can often be misleading when cutting back< on the booze. Some wines and beers that claim alcohol-free still contain small amounts to give them a similar style taste to the real thing.
While it may seem like an improvement on the usual amounts of alcohol for someone trying to cut back, drinking mocktails or alcohol-free drinks in large amounts might mean you aren’t cutting back as much as you originally thought.
It can induce bad habits
Despite their low to no-alcohol content, it is important to be safe and sensible when consuming so you don’t develop new bad habits. Drinks like mocktails can be really easy to consume in large amounts because they are filled with fruity flavours and tastes that replicate alcohol.
Therefore, it is key for those trying to reduce their intake to consume low or no alcoholic drinks in sensible amounts so that they don’t carry the habit of heavy consumption into their regular drinking habits.
They aren’t as healthy as you might think
Despite being much better for your health than regular alcoholic drinks, consuming many at once isn’t a good idea because they are often packed with sugar and chemicals.
If one of your goals is to reduce the number of calories you consume from alcohol, it’s best to avoid mocktail-style drinks so that you don’t consume unhealthy amounts of sugar.
The taste can make you look for alcohol
Despite some non-alcoholic drinks tasting like their alcoholic counterparts, you often don’t get the rich flavour that normal beer or cocktails offer.
The problem with this is, that the experience of non-alcoholic beverages is significantly underwhelming and might cause some individuals to give up on going dry or forget why they did it in the first place.
If those cutting back do choose to drink mocktails as a substitute, it’s key to remember that you might not get the same satisfaction as a regular alcoholic drink.