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Do Bluebirds drink alcohol-free beer?

This month, we’ve been trying to convince Cardiff City supporters that alcohol-free beer is worth a shot

Beer and football has to be one of the most powerful partnerships of our time. A pint or two before the game, a swift one during the break. And when the final whistle blows, it’s decision time: turn for home or head for the pub to pontificate on this week’s performance and make wise predictions about the next game?

‘And why not?’ you may well ask. Football is a sociable game, the People’s Game – a place where thousands (mostly men) gather to sing together, encourage and rebuke their team together, and console each other when it all goes wrong. It’s the kind of camaraderie that’s thin on the ground in an age when the solitude of the sofa and the small screen predominate. Surely it’s better to be part of the brotherhood of the terraces, even if it is a bit boozy (and there aren’t actually any terraces any more)? Our big question was whether the brotherhood would hold together without the booze.

We knew when we set up our little stall in the cavernous interior of the Cardiff City Stadium that we’d be facing a tough gig. No one likes being hassled about their drinking habits when they’re having a day out. So, we decided to try a more relaxed approach. Instead of leaflets and good advice, we had a shed-load of Heineken’s new 0.0% beer. It’s one of the best of the new alcohol-beers that have gone on sale in recent years, in our opinion. But did it get the thumbs-up from thirsty Bluebirds? Yes…and no.

The people who most responded positively can be divided roughly into three groups. First of all, people who came to the match by car and wanted to be in a fit state to drive home again. Secondly, people who drink very little anyway and were looking for something other than sugary pop. And thirdly, people who were having a Dry January.  

Most others, however, were less than impressed. Some refused to try the 0.0% beer at all. ‘What’s the point of a pint with no alcohol?’ they asked. Some tasted it like small children taste their greens, convinced before it touches their lips that it won’t be to their liking. One person ran from the stand declaring loudly that he’d had alcohol-free beer by mistake during Euro 2016 in France and was not about to repeat that traumatic experience!

So, our somewhat unscientific experiment seems to suggest that alcohol-free beer has the greatest appeal to people who are already looking to cut back or abstain. It’s less effective, maybe, as a means to get people to cut back in the first place. As the alcohol-free beer market grows – as it seems certain to do – it will be interesting to see how many consumers it attracts from sweeter soft drinks and how many beer-drinkers use it to reduce their intake of standard-strength beers.

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