Demand for alcohol-free beer on the rise

The new transport law is also tougher when it comes to punishments for drunk drivers. Although officially, alcohol behind the wheel was not allowed before either, police often found their hands tied when it came to enforcing the law. Czechs are known to be a nation of beer-lovers and with the tough new law in place they seem to be turning towards alcohol-free varieties of beer. In July, several Czech breweries have reported increased orders.

Jan Vesely, photo: Zdenek Valis
Radio Prague spoke to the chairman of the Czech Brewing Association, Jan Vesely, about the trend in the production of alcohol-free beer.

"Non-alcohol beer is the fastest-growing segment of the demand in our country. This trend is even stronger now, since the 1st of July, when the new legislation came into power. We expect that increase from year to year could be about 50 percent in absolute figures. It means within three years we could almost triple the output and demand of non-alcoholic beer in our country."

Do you think the new traffic regulations are the only reason why demand is increasing?

"First of all I must say that we can hardly measure now the influence of the new legislation because it's too soon. But still, there is a trend that has been going on for more than four years which is reflected by some annual increase of 15-25 percent year-on-year of consumption of non-alcoholic beer. I think it's because of a change in living habits. We work more, we have to drive cars more and so on. But I think this trend will be even stronger with this legislation because as far as I understand our people are very pragmatic. And facing that new legislation and loving beer, they will for sure try to seek some middle-of-the-road solution. Having beer but not drinking alcohol - it means drinking non-alcoholic beer."

You've mentioned that Czechs love beer but is there a sufficient variety of alcohol-free beers on the Czech market?

"This is also a very significant change. Within the last 10 years, I would say, the quality of non-alcoholic beer has dramatically increased. It's much better, incomparably better than before. Now there are 15 brands of non-alcoholic beers on the market, produced in the country, three imported brands and some two, three breweries are about to start production of non-alcoholic beer this year. So at the end of this year, we will have about 20 brands, including imported brands."