St Peter’s and Adnams among the East Anglian breweries riding the low alcohol wave
- Credit: St Peter's Brewery
The region's breweries are seeing low and non-alcoholic versions of their beers grow more popular as drinkers cut down on booze in favour of healthier options.
The UK has seen an 18% fall in alcohol consumption over the last decade and this weekend sees the first Mindful Drinking Festival, in London, which will celebrate low alcohol and alcohol-free brews.
Bungay brewery St Peter's will be attending with two of its non-alcoholic products, which it says have been a hit with consumers – making up 10% of its sales. Chief executive Steve Magnall said: 'We have already increased both our brewing and our bottling capacity to cope with demand for our alcohol-free beers and there's further investment in the pipeline.
'These products are making a huge impact at a time when people are crying out for decent alcohol-free alternatives.'
But St Peter's is not the only East Anglian beer-maker to venture into the market. EDP/EADT Top 100 firm Adnams, based in Southwold, has seen strong online sales of its low-alcohol Sole Star beer since it launched a 0.9% ABV version in March.
Head brewer Fergus Fitzgerald said: 'Sales for low alcohol beers in the UK are increasing all the time but we still have some way to go to match the market share they enjoy in other European countries.
'We've had great feedback since we lowered the ABV of Sole Star earlier this year and it is selling well in our stores and online.'
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In the week after its release Sole Star was the top seller on Adnams' website.
The beer is made by using malts which are lower in starch, reducing the amount of yeast and fermenting at a lower temperature in order to keep the flavours while minimising the alcohol content.
One of the keys to non-alcoholic beer is achieving similar flavours to those in the alcoholic version.
Patrick Fisher, owner of Norwich craft brewery Redwell Brewing, said the company was working on a low-alcohol beer, but replicating the flavours and aromas of craft beer was not easy.
'That's challenging for many brewers and it's something we are working on but we don't want to release a product until we can get something we're proud of.'
Mr Fisher said there was a demand for low-alcohol beers from rural pubs which wanted diners to be able to drive to them.
The low and non-alcoholic beer market grew by 20% to 28.4m in the year to November 2016.