The Next Round: What happens after you change your drinking?

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What is low & alcohol free?

While de-alcoholisation (removing the alcohol after the fermentation process) has been around for over 100 years, the no and alcohol-free category is still young, and the terminology can be confusing. Words like ‘low’, ‘light’, ‘free’ and ‘zero’ are used worldwide, but they don’t always mean the same thing.

It is helpful for your customers to include ABV information on your menus for all drinks, including low and alcohol-free products. This is especially important for cocktails, as you may use different ingredients with different strengths.

Do I need an alcohol licence to serve low & alcohol-free?

In the UK, you don’t need an alcohol licence to sell drinks of up to 0.5% ABV. These drinks are usually labelled as ‘non-alcoholic’ or ‘alcohol-free’. Drinks from 0.5% to 1.2% ABV can be labelled ‘low alcohol’. The rules may change over time, so it’s worth checking the latest guidance.

How are alcohol-free drinks produced?

Customers often ask how alcohol-free drinks are made. Alcohol-free wine is nearly always de-alcoholised – a regular full-strength wine goes through an extra process to remove the alcohol. Beers at 0.5% can be ‘brewed to strength’ – made like a standard beer, but with changes in brewing methods to keep the alcohol level naturally low. This is not the case for a 0.0% beer, which are usually de-alcoholised. Spirits are often made from blending distilled ingredients, although some can be fermented too.

What about the price of alcohol-free?

When it comes to pricing, it is true that no alcohol duty is paid on alcohol-free drinks. But making the drinks themselves is often more expensive, particularly if they have been de-alcoholised. It is best to explain that these drinks are high-quality, healthier alternatives to alcohol, not a cheaper option. Customers value feeling rewarded and included.

What about age ID?

Under-18s can legally purchase alcohol-free beers, as long as the drinks sold are 0.5% ABV or below. This is because the Licensing Act 2003 defines “alcohol” under the provisions of the Act as beer, wine, cider, spirits and other liquors over 0.5% ABV.

Designed and produced in partnership with Club Soda and Drinkaware.

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