Five reasons they hide alcohol-free drinks’
It was another trip out and about, and I hope the restaurant we had chosen has a few other non-alcohol options on the drinks’ menu.
Not that I am obsessed with alcohol-free drinks’ but more with the options and the choice.
But yet again, there was no alcohol-free on the menu.
So I did yet again ask, which is why do they hide the alcohol-free drinks’?
The guy in the corner store told me the other day he hides his cider in a bag at 11 in the morning because of the stigma.
I get that. But why do bars and restaurants hide alcohol-free beers?
Asking for non-alcoholic wine is maybe a stretch in a bar, but with all the zero beer brands now and increasing demand, that’s an option to have some in, indeed?
What I am about to say may shock you, or maybe you think I am paranoid.
Since I first checked this out, I have been asking questions from bar staff to managers.
You see, some bars and restaurants have it in stock, albeit at low levels. But it’s not advertised on the menu, and in one case, it was hidden around the corner.
Here are my five reasons why they hide alcohol-free drinks’.
No one will buy it anyway.
This is a common one, and I had tried this out a few times to test the theory.
Although unless it’s on the menu, no one will buy it anyway, so it becomes a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
So no one sees it, then does one buy it, and yes, the bias is confirmed.
Of course, this stems back to when the first alcohol-free beer came out, which of course, was terrible, and that’s putting timidly.
It still comes up with even friends of mine, which is “how can you even drink this stuff”.
It not a question either!
And I get it alcohol-free beer was the worst in the world and was created so that yuppies could entertain the clients.
But, of course, the end game was to go back to work sober.
In reality, most of the non-alcoholic beer would end up half-drunk anyway.
However, when I have ordered ahead and made sure the bar has some alcohol free drinks’ in stock, they consistently over order.
What is interesting is that people have seen me drinking them and started ordering them for themselves.
The main reason they were driving or just fancied a change away from alcohol.
It happened one Christmas Day in the UK, and I pre-ordered it, and it proved one of the best-sellers.
Even the manager came over to ask me why I thought it sold well.
Action: If you think the bar will have no options for you to drink, order ahead and suggest to the manager they make a big thing about it as an offer.
Just see what happens. Once you engage with the managers of these bars, they become curious about it.
They just don’t get it.
In any bar and restaurant’s defence, alcohol-free and the reasons you might drink it is not top of mind.
They don’t’ get it, and I have some sympathy with this.
After all, the whole industry is slightly confusing.
Although the information is out there about what is alcohol-free and what is not.
Although how many bars have even studied it?
I have often been offered alcohol anyway when asking for an alcohol-free beer or given a low alcohol option, which is not ideal for health reasons.
Luckily the drink aware website has some helpful simple directions, and this should be the bar or restaurant manual if they are serious about it.
In the UK, the laws are pretty strict, thank goodness.
- Three categorisations apply to drinks’ produced in the UK:
- Alcohol-free: no more than 0.05?V
- De-alcoholised: no more than 0.5% ABV
- Low alcohol: no more than 1.2% ABV
- Source: Drinkaware
As you can see, there is a big difference between alcohol-free drinks’ where because of a natural production process, there may be a trace and low alcohol drinks.
The trace, by the way, is much less than you might find in a banana, bread rolls and orange juice.
Even a piece of fruit left out in the summer sun could begin to ferment naturally.
So it seems the answer is let’s keep to the facts but not over dramatise it either.
However, the reason goes deeper than that.
It’s that bar owners have said to me they don’t get why people would drink it in the first place.
This slightly disheartened me, but once I explained it’s a primary profit and sales growth area for people who want to cut back or cut alcohol, they started to take an interest.
Action: Always aim to educate bars about a wide range of why customers would like it, how the market has improved and more importantly, it’s good for custom and their business.
It’s an image thing
The fact is some bars don’t want the image of being an alcohol-free beer bar!
As one waiter said, who wishes to remain anonymous, “the thing is, we are a proper beer drinking bar, we added some to the alcohol-free drinks’ to the glass cabinets, and the regulars took “Michael” out of us.”
What appears to have happened is that the central headquarters thought it was a fantastic thing to have alcohol-free beer stocked, but the local management thought it would displace the regulars.
Maybe that is the reason it happened.
The last place I ate had nothing on the menu, but they had some stacked away somewhere when I asked for it.
Which I found strange as it was a great brand called Warsteiner 0.0%, a delicious light beer.
What a shame, as it’s a tremendous non-alcoholic beer perfect for summer days.
Action: If it’s on the menu, ask for it as it might be its hiding around the back or in the cellar somewhere
It’s a trend that won’t last.
One waiter told me that it’s apparent that it’s a trend and won’t last.
Of course, the statistics tell a different story, and growth is now over 20 per cent a year to 50 per cent in parts of the world where people realised that they were drinking too much.
It’s a trend being driven by younger people as well, so as they get older, their habits tend to stay, which creates a change in longer-term practices.
Not only do some bars think it’s a short term trend, but they can also be lax ordering fresh supplies where they do have even one option in stock.
Of course, even with one choice, it was not visible to potential new customers.
Talk about a self-confirming cycle.
People that drink it are alcoholics.
Now, this does come up, but it’s a slightly bizarre one. Yes, of course, for some people, alcohol-free could be a trigger.
However, many people may have just given up alcohol for excellent reasons:
Just because they want to cut back does mean it’s an issue. And if it is, please get help.
- They are on a health kick
- Allergic Reactions
- Religious reasons
- Of course, some people just like choice and don’t want alcohol.
Yet, in the eyes of some bars, they feel they have some moral crusade or not help people drink alcohol.
Yet we know from studies in the UK at the Newcastle and Bristol Universities having plenty of non-alcoholic choices is a great way to help people stay away from drinking too much.
The answer is choice.
I know from my own experience that this is true.
I have asked the bar to get some alcohol-free beers n, and its sales have proved successful. Very in many cases.
Another question bar owners often ask me.
I encourage questions as it means they are interested, and there is no doubt that education is needed.
I have to say I have probably received more prejudice since giving up than being a social wine drinker.
So those are my five reasons why bars and restaurants seem to hide their alcohol-free drink, but there is a serious message behind it.
And it’s key to giving a choice to people who enjoy an alcohol-free lifestyle. Or those that would like to be given the opportunity.
When you go online, you can get the impression that alcohol-free drinks’ are freely available. However, the reality offline is very different.
And some other questions I have been asked:
Why is staying alcohol-free important?
I don’t want to sound like a total advocate here, as most of my friends drink. But every health expert will tell you some great reasons why staying alcohol-free or cutting back is a good thing.
But here is the big thing.
It’s about having that choice that will make a real difference to you going alcohol-free.
It can help with everything from weight loss to brain fog. You will sleep better, and your mood will get better as time goes on.
Ever had a hangover and have shakes as a result of alcohol?
You may sleep with someone and wake up the following day and not even know their name or where you were staying.
This is not to mention all the diseases it can help with, which is why your medical practitioner will be so keen to ask you how much you drink.
And, of course, you make it up like any good patient.
In the UK, the recommended weekly amount to not exceed is 14 units.
This works out at 1 unit per standard alcohol unit, like a tiny glass of wine. I meet so many people who think that 14 unit is a goal to go for!
Cutting back calories, then give up alcohol. Want a more robust immune system, then drinks’ less.
It does not take a genius medical expert to tell you what the benefits are.
But please don’t hide it.
If you are a bar owner or restaurant haunt, please, we don’t need alcohol-free options hiding from the menu.
We are adults.
And if you don’t have it, what is your issue, lack of profit?
You are missing out on one of the biggest trends of the century.
Do the alcohol-free drinkers and me a favour and be proud of it. I’ll guarantee you will find some happy customers.
Have you discovered alcohol-free choices being available but not on the menu. Did you say anything?
Why do bars hide alcohol-free drinks
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