Friday, 21 April 2017

Letter to CAMRA

Published in the June edition.

to the letters editor, CAMRA, What's Brewing,
sent 24th April 2017

Low Alcohell

A few days after returning from the Bournemouth AGM, I suffered a small stroke which, fortunately, left me largely undamaged, but I am now advised to take no more than one drink per day. This has led to a sudden interest in low alcohol beer (and wine) and a wish to promote its availability.
Although it is initially counter-intuitive (who in their right mind would drink that?), there is a case to be made for brewing decent weak beer and making it available in pubs, notably for anyone who is intending to drive and of course for those like me who are under doctors’ orders.

A 2015 Telegraph article ( notes that “under current advertising rules, brewers can not positively promote lower strength drinks, between 1 and 3.5 per cent, as these products are not yet legally defined", though from the Advertising Standards Authority Non-broadcast Code, “Alcoholic drinks are defined as drinks containing at least 0.5% alcohol; for the purposes of this Code low-alcohol drinks are defined as drinks containing between 0.5% and 1.2% alcohol” ( HMRC states, “Beer Duty is chargeable on … beer if [its] strength is more than 1.2% alcohol by volume” (

A CAMRA press release dated 24th November 2016 sought “a reduction in duty on beers between 2.9 per cent and 3.5 per cent ABV [as it] would encourage responsible drinking”. The weakest beer available at the AGM was Dancing Man’s Bone Dry at 3.4%, one of 16 session beers in the 3% range. Has CAMRA ever taken a view on promoting beers of 0.5% to 1%?

While waiting for the real (low alcohol) ale revolution to arrive (CAMRAla?), I have been looking at the bottled beers which I hope pubs will stock more regularly. Brew Dog’s cunningly named Nanny State at 0.5% provides an excellent, hop-heavy benchmark and is intermittently available at some supermarkets but not at my local Wetherspoon. At the other end of the spectrum is Erdinger AlkoholFrei, an entirely unpleasant substance which Wetherspoon does stock.

If any other CAMRA members are interested in this subject, or if there is already a relevant CAMRA group, please get in touch at

Finally, there is an interesting and wide-ranging piece on small beer on the Anchor Brewing blog,


  1. From my experience there is another group keen to drink low/no alcohol beers. My daughter (and many of her pals) have been brought up on decent ales. She reports that during her pregnancy the thing she has missed the most is real ale. Given health advice these days there only choice in most pubs are sweet carbonated drinks or juice.

  2. That's a good point - I'll add expectant mothers to the constituency.
    Cheers, Nick