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 winemaking?
It is probably all of them, but something makes this country feel OK with having Spanish drinks with alcohol freely available.
I noticed a difference when I was there, so I did get inquisitive.
So what are they, and why are they so tolerant of alcohol-free drinks
Updated: Lastest Alcohol-Free Drinks Podcast on Spanish Alcohol-Free Drinks Podcast:
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 trendsetters!
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? 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 health-driven, and I won’t get into the politics here, but cigarette smoking and alcohol drinking were very high.
Many people say, including the Spanish, by the way, it was the booze and the other bad habits that ensured reasonable social control.
I get that. My sociology schooling kicked in here.
That, of course, had been the score in many countries the world over!
This was way before the so-called “yuppies” in the city of London were looking for a 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!
It is often listed 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 a fact, and I think this is more true that we live in an alcohol-free world!
Judgment is everywhere. However, alcohol-free drinks used to taste bad.
In Spain, however, acceptance of alcohol-free drinks, mainly beer and wine, has been growing steadily since the 1970s.
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, restaurants, and even airports, which is so often so unknown in the UK!
Many of the airline’s top executives talk a lot about quitting drinking alcohol on board in the UK. 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. My expectation of there being anything of alcohol-free choice 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 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 started. It had to have zero alcohol.
Of course, my Spanish is OK but not the best globally, but 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”.
Although it probably did not consider that alcohol-free beer does have calories like alcohol-based beer, I love it, although in most cases less!
Before Amber Sin, the brand was called Bitter Sin, and wait for it has a blue label.
If you think about some of the key brands today, like Heineken Zero, many have that blue colour incorporated into the brand.
It’s evident 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. Most alcohol-free beer has some 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 the 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.
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-alcoholization 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 world regions.
But the Spanish set the standards for beer certainly!
The Arab Export Factor
Who knows what helps a product take off, but we know that exporting plays a vital role in any drinks’ business and alcohol fee is no exception.
The German beer scene has played a significant 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 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 critical factor.
Of course, both opposed, but for sales, it worked well.
Such was the demand and production levels you could not go any way nationally in Spain without seeing the Amber Sin brand.
Halal was recognised
The same was true of the Arab countries where the fact enhanced it in the eighties; it got Halal certified.
The producers 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 the world over, that the medical community pushed the massive growth of the Amber Sin brand or the current alcohol-free drinks.
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 wrong. It was undoubtedly true in Amsterdam around the port area and is often talked about.
It is why the purity of the water is so essential in the 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 the overall lifestyle, pregnancy and driving.
Some people choose it because they hate alcohol full stop.
Always know your limits through drink awareness. 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, although I know this brand is sold in Barcelona.
Although Spain does produce a lovely alcohol cava! Sparkling wine is ahead of the game when it comes to alcohol.
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 favourites, 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 excellent branding and bottle. It’s probably up there with San Miguel Zero, but it’s perhaps just a bit better with food and typically comes in a charming glass!
What are the critical points of the drink?
- Refreshing with a lager feel
- Mild citrus just about cuts through
- Feel like beer but without the alcohol
- A great colour, so amber but very light
- I find it refreshing, especially when drunk out of one of those small Spanish tapas beer glasses.
- It hits the 0.0 abv note well.
I would say it is one of the best alcohol-free beers out there and is 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 was one of my quality wines from a great family winery.
They have 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 1970s, so who would have thought that!
It is always a pleasure to travel to Spain as the judgment of asking for an alcohol-free wine or beer 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 in 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 your favourite Spanish drinks without alcohol? Leave a comment, and I always get back to you!