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low alcohol beer

Weaker beers to get cheaper in the UK

Major breweries in Britain have plans to develop low-alcohol beers, following a new government measure to cut down duty on low-alcohol beers, which is set to be implemented this October. The tax cut could make weaker beers 50p a pint cheaper than their higher-strength counterparts.

In March, the UK Chancellor announced a 50% reduction of duty on beers with 2.8% ABV or less. Since then, many breweries have started developing low-strength beers at cheaper prices in expectation of high demand.

Making flavoursome beer with low alcohol content is a difficult task, but the results of a blind taste survey conducted at the Campaign for Real Ale’s (CAMRA) Great British Beer Festival in London this week are encouraging. A panel of eight experienced beer tasters, buyers and brewers were asked to rank six beers, ranging in strength from 2 to 3.5 per cent, in order from highest to weakest.

The collated results placed Brodie’s Stout as the second strongest. In fact it was the weakest, at 2 per cent.

But micro brewers, such as Brodie’s in London’s East End, will not benefit from the tax cut, as their small size already qualifies them for 50 per cent relief. But the country’s biggest breweries are exploring the marketplace.

Fuller’s, the London brewery which produces London Pride and also runs 361 pubs across the UK, has been developing a 2.8 per cent beer and is close to a breakthrough.

“It’s certainly a challenge,” said John Keeling, Fuller’s head brewer. “Alcohol content comes from the malt. The more malt you use, the more alcohol content you have, and malt gives flavour. If you want to brew a weak beer, you can’t use lots of malt.”

He adds that the growing market for weaker beer is not just because it is cheaper. “People want to drink different strength drinks at different times of day. With lunchtime drinking increasingly frowned upon, drinkers want a weaker beer with their lunch than they would after work or at home.”

A CAMRA survey has shown that many consumers are ready to switch to low-alcohol beers, provided the taste remained on par with the regular beer; while 52% of drinkers would consume a lower-strength beer if available in their local pub. Many health advocates believe that lower prices will lead to drinkers consuming less alcohol and fewer calories with their daily pint.

Source: Drinks Business Review/The Independent

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