Spanish drinks without alcohol
You know what I love Spain, the people, the culture, food and the Spanish drinks without alcohol.
What makes this country so tolerant toward an alcohol free lifestyle? I have also found no-one blink an eye when you ask for an alcohol free beer.
Is it the history, the choice of beers or their history of wine making?
It is probably all of them but there is something that makes this country feel OK with the availability of having Spanish drinks with alcohol freely available.
I really notice a difference when I was there so I did get very curious.
So what are they and why are they so tolerant of alcohol free drinks
A bit of Spanish alcohol free history
Well while the rest of Europe was spitting out less than great alcohol free beer rather than depending on a glass of fizzy water or cola the Spanish were way ahead in the alcohol free stakes.
They were actually trend setters!
They had it sorted very early on this alcohol free drink attitude. But it was out of a need not just a whim.
So when was it?
The eighties or nineties maybe ? Actually no Spanish non-alcoholic beer came into the world way back in 1976. I know I had to read that myself twice as well!
It was actually health driven and I won’t get into the politics here but cigarette smoking and the drinking of alcohol was at a very high level.
Many people say including the Spanish by the way, it was the booze and the other bad habits that ensured good social control.
I kind of get that. My sociology schooling kicked in here.
That of course had been the score in many countries world over!
This was way before the so called “yuppies” in the city of London were looking for beer that they could drink with their clients without them looking weak and still going to work in the afternoon!
Of course that experiment did not work at the beer at the time was well less than tasteful!
In fact, it is often listed as why people won’t ask for an alcohol free beer now as they get that look, I certainly get it, maybe it’s the taste that is haunting people to this day certainly in the UK.
Or maybe it is the fact and I think this is more true that we live in an alcohol free world!
Judgment is everywhere. Although alcohol free drinks used to taste really bad.
In Spain however acceptance of alcohol free drinks mainly beer but also wine has been growing steadily since the 1970’s.
I have personal experience of this while on holiday and also on business.
How come I can see alcohol free beer on draft in taps bars, in restaurants and even airports which is so often so unknown in the UK!
In the UK many of the airline’s top executives talk a lot about how they want to stop drinking alcohol on board. But when you are on a plane or in an airport but the choice for alcohol free alternative drinks’ are almost zero.
I find it bizarre that they don’t walk the talk.
However, I was in Las Palmas airport and the fridge was full of alcohol free beer and wine and I had a choice of at least three cans.
OK there was no draught option but it was an airport so my expectation on there being anything was exceeded straight away.
I was happy!
The truth is that alcohol free beer especially is just the norm in Spain with brands like San Miguel leading the charge or Estrella Damm Beer from the famous Estrella Alcohol Brand.
Even the local supermarket in Playa Del Ingles near the beach had alcohol free beer stacked up with the big Spanish brands and were all really well priced compared to their alcohol counterparts.
So it probably won’t surprise you to learn that nearly 14% of all beer consumed in Spain is 0.0% abv.
Wow that is some figure!
ABV by the way means alcohol by volume and it’s one of the key ways that I make a decision and for me to be healthy whether I can drink it or not.
0.0 abv means no alcohol or at most a trace like in some food.
Some foods like bread rolls and fruit juice contain more alcohol because of fermentation than a low alcohol beer by the way let alone a 0.0 abv one.
The Early Spanish Beer brand is where it really started. It had to have zero alcohol.
Of course my Spanish is OK but not the best in the world but then neither is my English or my home country language Welsh!
Sin Alcohol though is a good term and most great bartenders know in Spain you want a drink with no alcohol so if you can combine it with cerveza and vino blanco it’s a job half done.
You get the idea.
The first Spanish alcohol free beer was called Ambar Sin
They had a brilliant slogan when it was launched and I am surprised no on-one had stolen for selling alcohol free.
How is this for a brand?
Ambar Sin: “Drinking double the amount without seeing double”.
I love it although it probably did not consider that alcohol free beer does have calories like alcohol based beer although in most cases less!
The brand that came before Amber Sin was called Bitter Sin and wait for it has a blue label.
Now if you think about some of the key brands today like Heineken Zero many of them have that blue color incorporated into the brand.
It’s so obvious on TV soaps in the UK where the characters are getting drunk but I can still spot the blue label on the bottle.
I am like you are “busted”! Well maybe, it is acting after all.
Of course blue is used by many of the brands that want to create a sense of calm. In fact most alcohol free beer has some kind of blue involved in the branding now even in Spain
So one bartender in Spain told me and I think he may be right that early alcohol free beer fed the look and feel of what we are drinking now world over.
Also what’s interesting is this has not transferred to wine branding but then that is grapes I guess.
Their evolution has been much slower.
In fact, I have only just become a convert to alcohol free wine this year when they seem to have finally smashed the taste so it doesn’t just taste like sweet grape juice.
The power of de-alcholisation comes in I guess with wine. It has helped keep the aroma and taste without the alcohol.
Zero Sparkling wine has come into its own worldwide when it comes to alcohol free and is made in many regions of the world.
But the Spanish set the standard for beer certainly!
The Arab Export Factor
Who knows what helps a product take off but we know that exporting plays a key role in any drinks’ business and alcohol fee is no exception.
In fact the German beer scene has played a major part in many of the drinks’ we now have in the UK.
Their drinks’ scene including alcohol free is now very well-established.
Exports of Ambar Sin to many Arab countries was at an all time high as of course the strict rules on alcohol consumption which are true to this day provided an open door for a zero alcohol beer.
The demand was extraordinarily high.
This of course drove the brand to be not just low alcohol but with an abv of 0.0 % so totally alcohol free.
So you had the contrast of too much drinking in Spain driving the zero alcohol beer brand and no drinking at all in the Arab countries bring the key factor.
Of course both diametrically opposed but for sales it worked well.
Such was the demand and production levels you could not go anyway nationally in Spain without seeing the Amber Sin brand.
Halal was recognised
The same was true of the Arab countries where it was enhanced by the fact in the eighties it actually got Halal certified.
The producers simply got rid of every exception going! Very clever.
Find the need and solve the problem was the early alcohol free beer Spanish success factor.
There is no doubt and it’s probably true today in Spain and world over that the massive growth of the Amber Sin brand or the current alcohol free drinks were pushed by the medical community.
Alcoholism although I am not fond of the label was on the increase as it was drunk to the same levels as water in many places.
The Water Quality was Poor
Ironically across Europe in the early centuries’ beer was made for that purpose because the water was so bad. It was certainly true in Amsterdam around the port area and is often talked about.
It is why the purity of the water is so important in reproduction of beer, alcohol and alcohol free!
Now of course in the UK alcohol free beer is drunk not just because of medical reasons but overall lifestyle, pregnancy and driving.
In fact some people choose it because they just hate alcohol full stop.
Always know your limits through drink aware. It is easily exceeded just a casual social drinker.
What Spanish drink with alcohol would you recommend?
I should say that unless I am mistaken alcohol free beer is the main drink and 0.0 abv wine is coming up from the shadows.
I have found it very hard to get other choices like alcohol free gin for example although I know this brand is sold in Barcelona.
Although Spain does produce a very nice alcohol cava! Sparkling wine is really ahead of the game when it comes alcohol
Alcohol Free Beers
The Spanish beer market is brilliant when it comes to alcohol free and it is what they do best!
And most of the beer I would drink under the alcohol free banner is brilliant.
My top choice today goes to Estrella Galicia Zero Lager which is one of my favorites and I don’t think I have seen a bad review of it to be fair.
It’s served in my local Spanish tapas bar and it has a great branding and bottle. It’s probably up there with San Miguel Zero but it’s probably just a bit better with food and normally comes in a very cute glass!
What are the key points of the drink?
- Refreshing with a lager feel
- Mild citrus just about cuts through
- Feel like beer but without the alcohol
- A great color so amber but very light
- Personally I find it really refreshing especially when drunk out of one of those small Spanish tapas beer glasses
- Hits the 0.0 abv note really well
I would say it is one of the best alcohol free beers out there and is actually served in many Spanish hotels although if you are going all-inclusive you are more likely to get San Miguel which is top-notch to be fair.
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My Spanish wine option has to be from the Torres family and when I did drink alcohol I have to say this really was one of my quality wines from a great family winery.
They have really surpassed themselves on the alcohol front with red, wine and rose and it’s a great combination to go with tapas.
I would love to know what you think of Torres alcohol free. Leave your comment below.
Spanish Options and Spanish Drink
So it seems Spain was at the heartland of creating alcohol free beer back in the 1970’s so who would have thought that!
It is always a pleasure when I travel to Spain as the judgment of asking for an alcohol free wine or beer just goes out the window.
Although I would say this is more marked with alcohol free beer. There also seems to be a lack of alcohol free spirits like gin but mocktails are everywhere!
Tapas and the Aiport
From the airport hotel asking for a cerveza sin alcohol is much easier than the UK. And it is the perfect addition to a selection of tapas which I love.
If you like Spain or a fan of their food and drink I would love to know what are your favorite Spanish drinks without alcohol? Leave a comment and I always get back to you!