This weekend marked the last of January 2020, and for many people who have taken on challenges like Dry January, temptation can get in the way of the best laid plans for moderation.
However, 2020 marks the start of a new decade in which it is easier than ever to continue on the path of more mindful drinking as part of a healthy balanced lifestyle.
In fact, new research has revealed that 44% of adults in the UK have pledged to drink more mindfully this year, with this number rising to 71% among the younger generation (18-34). These statistics reflect the remarkable growth of the ‘low and no alcohol’ drink category in the UK in recent years. Volumes of low and no alcohol beer alone has grown by a huge 232% in just five years (2013-2018) and is showing no signs of slowing down.
Responding to increasing consumer demands, there is now a vast and diverse range of high-quality low and no alcohol beers available in pubs, restaurants and in supermarkets. The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) reports that there were 57 million pints of low and no alcohol beer sold in 2018. If growth continues at the same rate as for the previous three years, the BBPA expects sales for 2019 to be as high as 75 million pints when volumes are reported later this year.
For those struggling to stick to Dry January or for those considering healthy lifestyle options, these low and no options make it possible to still take part in social activities – such as going to the pub for a drink with your friends – while maintaining mindful drinking habits. Furthermore, a lack of high-quality non-alcoholic drink options has previously made moderating your alcohol intake for reasons including health, driving, and cultural outlook more difficult. This can also result in people missing out on opportunities to meet and socialise with friends, leading to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Research by the Campaign for Real Ale supports this belief and finds that those that who have access to a local pub feel happier and more engaged with their local community.
However, a new survey carried out last week shows that people are embracing mindful drinking socially; in fact, 45% of people saying they would feel comfortable choosing a low or no alcohol option down their local pub. While this is good news, there are still some social situations, such as a wedding (38%), stag do (29%) or first date (33%), which prove more of a challenge when openly ordering a low and no alcohol drink. Interestingly, the survey revealed that more men (49%) than women (41%) are planning on moderating their drinking in the year ahead. Despite this, men are less comfortable than women to order a low and no alcohol drink at the bar (37% vs. 51%).
The survey also threw up some interesting regional variations:
- Londoners are the most likely to be moderating their drinking in the year ahead (67%) with the Welsh the least likely to be adopting this trend (29%).
- The region with the second lowest percentage of people planning to moderate their drinking in the year ahead is Yorkshire and Humber (36%), while the second highest is North East England (52%).
So, with the abundance of low and no alcohol options now available in pubs, there are even more reasons to spend time with your friends at these important convivial hubs. The mindful drinking movement Club Soda has even compiled a comprehensive ‘Pub Guide’, detailing all the all the best hotspots across the UK for low and no alcohol options.
Commenting on the expanding diversity and availability of low and no alcohol beers, Technical Operations Policy & Membership Lead at the BBPA and Beer Sommelier Steve Livens says, “The current range of low and no alcohol beers are the best they have ever been in the UK, with brewers increasingly bringing new, innovative and high-quality products to market.. Deciding to drink more mindfully has never been easier, with more and more pubs in the UK stocking low and no versions of beer whether on draught or in bottle. Consumers can now confidently head to their local to order their new favourite ‘low and no’ beer.”
Some great-tasting alternative beers to look out for in the year ahead include:
– Heineken 0.0, Alcohol Free
– Peroni Libera, Alcohol Free
– St Peters Without Elderberry & Raspberry, Alcohol Free
– Harviestoun Brewery Wheesht, Alcohol Free
– Innis & Gunn’s Innis & None, Alcohol Free
Laura Willoughby, Co-Founder and Director at Club Soda comments,
“Pubs and bars have really raised their game over the last few years. The number of venues scoring 5 on clubsodaguide.com has rocketed and the mindful drinkers are consciously nominating venues they think care about their experience. It is all about choice and no and low drink options give customers flexibility. Nobody wants to stop going out just because they are cutting back and the industry is working hard to make sure people are not staying at home!”
Image credit: https://www.weightlossresources.co.uk/calories/lower-calorie-alcoholic-drinks.htm (also a handy site to check out calories of drinks)