Flying so low!

Sophisticated taste profiles minus any hangover-inducing potential, are in hot demand nowadays, as the latest innovations in the no and low alcohol sector aptly demonstrate, writes Gillian Hamill


Brand Central

15 October 2019 | 0

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Several indicators demonstrate the strength of the low and no-alcohol drinks market, which has been bolstered by factors including an increasingly health-conscious consumer base, who are keen not to let a hangover stand in their way of tackling a busy work schedule. Many also want to enjoy a night out yet still be able to drive home.

Wholesale supplier Musgrave MarketPlace revealed a surge in sales for low and non-alcoholic drinks between November 2018 and January 2019. Sales in the category soared by a staggering 1,200% during this three-month period, fuelled by initiatives such as ‘Dry January’ and the growing emphasis on health and wellness among consumers.

In fact, such was the growing demand that Musgrave MarketPlace launched a dedicated low and non-alcoholic section last November.

Impact of Dry January

Stephen Duffy of the Press Up Group of bars and restaurants has also observed rapid growth, which he says really “took off” during the Dry January campaign. “The taste profile of non-alcoholic beers has improved so much in the past 12 months with options like Heineken 0.0, that customers feel that they’re getting the benefits of beer without the hangover,” he says.  

“We haven’t seen a reduction in our alcohol sales because of this trend,” Duffy adds, “but instead we’ve seen an increased number of occasions that people can drink non-alcoholic beer.”  

“This isn’t a trend that is going away,” agrees Sheena Forde, trading director of Musgrave MarketPlace. “We predict double-digit growth in this category over the next 12 months as a result of new product launches and innovations.”

Nielsen also identified health and wellbeing as one of its top trends dominating the type of food and drink people buy in 2019. The Irish Brewers Association (IBA), which is part of the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland (ABFI), reports that the trend has resulted in more people choosing to drink less alcohol or not to drink at all. In fact, since 2001, the average per adult alcohol consumption has fallen by 23.2% in Ireland (CSO/Revenue Commissioners). When people do drink, there is an increasing trend towards choosing quality over quantity, the IBA observes. The drinks industry, as a result is going through a premiumisation phase, evidenced by continued growth in premium, super-premium and craft categories.

This has also resulted in significant innovation among brewers, who are creating low and non-alcoholic beer alternatives. In Ireland, health-conscious consumers have been receptive to this innovation, with sales of low and non-alcoholic beer increasing by 60% in Ireland between 2017 and 2018, to 30,000HL.

“The key thing for brewers is maintaining the excellent taste that consumers are used to with quality beer products on the market,” says IBA’s Jonathan McDade. “We have seen this in the Irish market, with Diageo introducing Pure Brew and Heineken introducing Heineken 0.0 and Heineken Light, all of which consumers have responded positively to.”

Demand for more

What’s more, research has shown that there is demand for more options on the market. 57% of people say they’d like to see more availability of non-alcoholic beer. This is according to a survey carried out by The Taste and the Irish Brewers Association, with over 1,300 respondents.

ABFI believes it is useful to look internationally, to see what to expect from low and non-alcoholic beer market in the coming years.

“In the UK,” says McDade, “sales of low and alcohol-free beers jumped 28% in the year to February 2019, compared with the previous 12 months. Many independent brewers are focusing on only producing low and non-alcoholic beers. We may see more independent and craft producers introducing these low and non-alcoholic beers here, or indeed focusing their business solely on this offering, as we have seen in the UK.”

Beer is Ireland’s most popular drink and McDade points to Spain, where beer drinking is popular and an integral part of the Mediterranean culture. There has been a huge increase in popularity of non-alcoholic beer in recent years.

“In Spain,” he says, “non-alcoholic beer has become popular, accounting for around 12% of the overall beer market, which is very significant, driven by the country’s after-work beer and tapas culture.”

“We also see this trend materialising throughout other countries across Europe,” McDade continues, “leading to a significant increase in the sale of non-alcoholic beers, including a 33% sales increase in the Netherlands and an 80% sales increase in Poland in 2018.”

An appetising portfolio

Grand Cru Beers has built Ireland’s most diverse assortment of low and no alcohol beers spanning the varied range of beer styles available – and all cold shipped and cold stored to give that brewery fresh taste.

Within the Weihenstephaner portfolio, the oldest brewery in the world, the non-alcoholic offering takes centre stage. Located in Freising, 30km from Munich, Weihenstephaner offers both the classic Bavarian Helles Lager style and Wheat Beer (Hefeweissbier) style in non-alcoholic form. Both beers are brewed to full strength for maximum flavour and then reduced in alcohol content to less than 0.5% ABV, available in 50cl bottles.

Meanwhile, Germany’s Veltins brewery, located in the Meschede-Grevenstein area, is amongst the country’s largest producers of pilsner beer. The brewery offers the classic Veltins Pilsener, fully de-alcoholised at 0.0% ABV in a 33cl bottle.




The Cologne region has long been famous for the kölsch beer variety, while Fruh is a leader among the city’s breweries. Brewed with an ale yeast but cold fermented, Fruh Kölsch is available in 50cl bottles at 0.0% ABV.


Thornbridge has earned a reputation as the UK’s most innovative brewery. Founded in 2005 in Bakewell in the Peak District, Thornbridge has been at the vanguard of the UK craft beer scene. Big Easy is a low alcohol pale ale at 0.5% ABV. It overflows with sublime American hops which produce a beautiful bouquet of lemon, peach and apricot. This refreshing pale ale is guaranteed to satisfy the most discerning craft consumers; available in both bottle and keg.






Ambar Non-Alcoholic is unique in the world of non-alcoholic beers as it is also gluten-free. Brewed in Zaragoza by the Moritz Group, Ambar is available in 33cl bottles and is 0.0% ABV.

Sheppy’s Low Alcohol Classic Cider (0.5% ABV) recently received the gold medal at the International Cider Awards




With over 200 years of cider-making tradition to rely on, Sheppy’s is a family-owned company now under the stewardship of David Sheppy, the sixth-generation master of cider. Blending the best of tradition with innovation and modern technology, Sheppy’s Ciders are multi-award winning. The Sheppy’s Low Alcohol Classic Cider is 0.5% ABV and is available in 50cl bottles. It was recently awarded the gold medal at the International Cider Awards.

All the above are available nationwide from Grand Cru Beers at

Alcohol-free gets punked up

BrewDog Punk AF is an alcohol-free beer that delivers on flavour, with 35 IBUs

BrewDog has just released a new alcohol-free beer, Punk AF, as part of the brewery’s mission to prove that alcohol-free does not equate to taste-free. Brewdog is now bringing a new alternative to the mainstream: a beer for those seeking a point of difference at 0.5% ABV. One that brings all the attitude of the flagship, all of the flavour – but none of the alcohol.

Punk IPA was one of the beers that kick-started the craft beer revolution and Punk AF is the next step in the brewery’s desire to brew a beer for every taste and occasion.

Brewed with eight different hops from North America, New Zealand and Europe, Punk AF lives up to its billing in every respect. Juicy tropical fruit mixes it up with grassy notes and a hit of resinous pine, all sitting on a solid foundation of four different malts. The bitter finish belies its ABV, rolling in at 35 International Bittering Units (IBUs) to provide the perfect retort to those who push alcohol-free beer devoid of character.

All in all, the brand’s message is a fitting one, that alcohol-free beer just got punked up: ‘This is Punk AF: the new saviour of alcohol-free’.

BrewDog Punked AF is distributed by Barry & Fitzwilliam.

A force to be reckoned with

With a backbone of eight different speciality malts, Nanny State sits at 45 IBUs

If you think low alcohol equals low taste, think again. As well as its Punked AF offering, BrewDog is serving up another hardcore beer with the alcohol left out. Nanny State breaks the curfew and slips under the radar. A brigade of specialty malts and North American hops sends bitterness to the brink and back.

In fact, squeezing this many hops in, and the alcohol out, is a testament to BrewDog’s craft.

Brewing a full-flavoured craft beer at 0.5% is no easy task but with a backbone of eight different specialty malts, Nanny State is sure to tantalise beer fans’ taste buds. Packed with loads of Centennial, Amarillo, Columbus, Cascade and Simcoe hops, dry-hopped and sitting at 45 IBUs, Nanny State is ‘a force to be reckoned with’.

It is also distributed by Barry & Fitzwilliam.

Striking new zero-proof range

The Stryyk portfolio of Not Gin, Not Vodka and Not Rum is 100% natural with no sugar, no fat, no carbs and no artificial flavours

Stryyk, a new range of zero-proof distilled spirits is launching in the Irish trade, with Ireland’s premium independent distributor Barry & Fitzwilliam, available nationwide now.

Created by drinks industry entrepreneur and founder of Funkin Cocktails, Alex Carlton, in recognition of the growing demand from Gen Xers, Stryyk is predominantly targeted at 18-35 year-olds. The range is positioned as an inclusive brand for those who choose not to drink alcohol, are having a night off or mixing up their night, but still want to be part of the party.

Distilled and bottled in the UK, the Stryyk portfolio features two clear spirits, Stryyk Not Gin and Stryyk Not Vodka and one dark spirit, Stryyk Not Rum. The range is packaged in a distinctive bottle with a premium cork closure, designed to complement the back-bar.

Stryyk Not Gin is a tasty non-alcoholic alternative to London dry gin, made from a combination of coriander, sage basil and juniper. Simply ‘Stryyk up’ an old favourite or use it as the base for a new creation.

Strykk Not Vodka delivers a combination of the warming spice of capsicum with the cooling notes of cucumber and menthol, emulating the characteristics of a classic pure vodka. With the growing interest in low as well as non-alcoholic drinks, Stryyk Not Vodka can also be swapped in to reduce ABV levels.

Stryyk Not Rum looks like rum, tastes like rum but it’s not rum: the perfect non-alcoholic alternative for all consumers’ favourite rum-based drinks. Stryyk blends the sweet sugar cane and raisin notes with the characteristic vanilla and oakwood tones to create a perfectly balanced spiced rum non-alcoholic spirit.

The Stryyk range is 100% natural with no sugar, no fat, no carbs and no artificial flavours.

According to Strykk owner, Elegantly Spirited CEO, Alex Carlton, “Stryyk is making sobriety acceptable, simple and not anti-social.

“With the new generation of party-goers choosing to drink less alcohol and sometimes none at all,” Carlton adds, “Stryyk offers a zero-proof spirit which enables them to enjoy the drinks they love and stay in the moment, without compromising on taste, experience or calories. As we like to say, Stryyk has all of the spirit, none of the alcohol.”

For serve suggestions, licensees and bartenders can simply ‘Stryyk up’ an old favourite like a G&T to create a Stryyk Not Gin & Tonic or use the new zero-proof spirit as the base for a new serve.

Visit to find out more.

Affordability, innovation and flavour

The B by Black Tower range offers value for money for consumers who want a low alcohol and low calorie choice

World-famous German wine brand, B by Black Tower is offering consumers a lighter and more affordable option to prosecco and sparkling wines.

The highly refreshing B Secco White and Rosé (5.5% ABV) serve up a light sparkling fizz, with just 65 kcals per 125 ml, over 30% less than standard wines. With the brand positioned in a cool and premium way, B Secco provides the ideal combination of low alcohol and low calories in a semi-sparkling version. It delivers the benefits of healthier living and a celebratory character, which makes it perfectly placed to capitalise on this major growth market opportunity, offering excellent value for money.

The affordability, innovation and flavour of these low calorie sparkling wines should help attract new drinkers into the wine category, particularly during the celebrations over the Christmas and New Year period.

The sparkling range builds on the success of B by Black Tower’s 5.5% ABV assortment. A Slimming World-approved wine brand, it has enjoyed strong success over the past few years.

The much celebrated ‘B’ Our Champion’ campaign – which rewards Ireland’s unsung heroes – also propelled the B range into the hearts and minds of Irish consumers, seeing it claim second place in the low alcohol category.

With only three Slimming World ‘Syns’ per glass, and impactful branding, the B Secco range resonates with health-conscious, female millennials.

“Consumers are becoming far more health conscious and, as a result, lower alcohol sparkling wines have become more appealing,” says distributor Mosaic Beverages’ Martin McDonald.

“Black Tower works tirelessly to continue to attract new drinkers,” he adds, “updating designs to keep the brand feeling contemporary, and has introduced new products in-line with trends emerging in the market such as low calorie and fruit-infused ‘B Fruitiful’ wines and now a new no alcohol ‘Deliciously Light’ range. What’s more, the lower price points and lower taxation ensure the wines are affordable to all consumers.”

For sales enquiries, contact Martin McDonald of Mosaic Beverages on 087 908 0341.

Full flavour without alcohol impact

Brewmaster by Dundalk Bay Brewery and Distillery Co. is a family-owned company, founded and run by father-daughter duo Tony and Faye Healy. The Brewmaster brand, which launched in 2017, offers a selection of varied beer types to the market. Now the company is releasing the very first 0.5% isotonic beer to the Irish market; the very first of its kind on the market by an Irish company.

“From analysing current market trends and consumer demands we know that people are more and more becoming health-conscious and health smart,” says Faye Healy. “We have invested significantly across our business in research, consumer analysis, bespoke equipment and new product development.

“The most recent and exciting outcome is our Brewmaster 0.5% Alcohol Free Isotonic Lager,” she adds, “with its high vitamin/nutrient content and isotonic attributes made exclusively from natural ingredients; it is only 11 calories and great for recovery as part of a healthy lifestyle.”

The company anticipates the shift to a healthier choice as a move in the right direction for its business, adding to its already growing drinks listings. Following the company’s research in non-alcoholic drinks, the team noticed the trend early and worked on how the business could implement a system that would be consistent and robust enough for its already existing 50HL automated brewing facility based in Dundalk, Co. Louth.

Brewmaster Alcohol Free (0.5% ABV), and gluten-free and vegan-friendly Brewmaster Light (4.2% ABV) will account for around 40-50% of sales annually for the company. Brewmaster 0.5% Isotonic Lager is also vegan-friendly and gluten-free.

The Brewmaster range of beers has a core range of a Brewmaster IPA, Lager and Red Ale, with limited editions including a Nitro Stout, Cask Aged Beers, and others which add diversification to the company’s portfolio of drinks.

“Our custom brew processes which have resulted in various international Gold, Silver and Bronze awards in the World Beer Awards and International Beer Competition, create premium authentic beers that are consistent in overall quality, flavour portfolio and ultimately the unique drinking experience for our customers,” says Faye Healy.

“We brew our 0.5% Alcohol Free beer in the same quality-driven fashion as our premium beers, using our custom equipment to reduce the alcohol content back to the desired level,” she adds. “Thereby keeping the full flavour and taste of our premium beers but without the alcohol impact. Our customers can enjoy a ‘0.5 and drive’ and be satisfied they too are not compromising on taste with the added nutritional isotonic benefits for a healthier lifestyle.”

Brewmaster by Dundalk Bay Brewery and Distillery Co. is the only homegrown fully Irish business offering the options of an alcohol-free, gluten-free and vegan premium lager, IPA and red ale to the domestic and international markets.

Gin when you’re winning

The Noki & Co. alcohol-free range includes Gin & Tonic and Pink Gin & Tonic flavoured drinks

Noki & Co. is a refreshing range of adult alcohol-free drinks that have recently launched in both the on and off-trade across Ireland and the UK.

The first products in the Noki & Co. range are a Gin & Tonic flavoured drink and a Pink Gin & Tonic flavoured drink, both aimed at gin lovers who are looking for an alcohol-free option when choosing not to drink alcohol for any number of reasons. The low calorie, alcohol-free drink from Irish drinks innovation company RTM Beverages, is set to provide a new option in the drinks industry as consumers seek out alcohol-free options coming into the busy festive season and ‘Dry January 2020’.

“People are drinking less alcohol in general,” a spokesperson for RTM Beverages tells ShelfLife. “Consumers are looking for alternatives to tea, coffee, water or fizzy drinks while they are out socialising but not drinking alcohol. With Noki & Co., consumers can join in on the night out and still drive home.”

The Gin & Tonic flavoured drink is made using distilled juniper berries (the main ingredient in gin) and a selection of other hand-picked natural botanicals to give an authentic taste. The alcohol is then removed leaving a great gin and tonic flavour without the side effects of alcohol.

For further information, visit or contact

Set sail for success

Claire Dalton with Main Sail Alcohol Free Pale Ale at Indie Beer Week earlier this year

Main Sail Alcohol Free Pale Ale from Dungarvan Brewing Company was released earlier this year and is Ireland’s first micro-brewed alcohol-free beer.

Developed to give a refreshing hoppy flavour without the alcohol content, and coming in at 0.4% ABV, it can be enjoyed in place of a regular beer without compromising on the full hoppy flavour which craft beer fans seek out.

Plenty of hops give a lively, refreshing citrus and herbal flavour to this light-bodied pale ale which head brewer Cormac O’Dwyer spent several months developing to achieve the right balance of bitterness and body.

“I wanted something that I could enjoy on a weeknight and it had to have a good flavour profile to it,” O’Dwyer tells ShelfLife. “We did several test brews before we were happy with both the body and hops level and I’m very pleased with the end result.

“We have seen a huge take-up in the bar and restaurant sectors,” he adds, “as people are often opting to take a break from alcohol on a night out, as well as in the off-trade for those who want to enjoy a few mid-week beers without worrying about alcohol consumption.”

Main Sail is on nationwide release now; visit for more details.









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