The Under Secretary of State for Public Health, Jane Ellison MP congratulated the drinks industry in March on the success of the ‘Billion Unit Reduction Pledge’ as part of the Government’s Public Health Responsibility Deal. So far, the industry has removed 1.3 billion units of alcohol from the UK market as part of their commitment.

A range of innovative products are now available, including a selection of lower-strength alcohol beers, such as Guinness Mid-Strength, Fosters Radler and Adnams Sole Star, together with examples of non-alcoholic beers, such as Becks Blue, Cobra 0% and San Miguel 0%.

Whilst non-alcoholic and lower-strength beer is slowly but surely making its way as a viable option in a number of shops, bars and restaurants, nevertheless, a recent national opinion poll conducted on behalf of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) illustrated that there is lots still to be done on educating and raising awareness of lower-strength options amongst the general public. “Whilst there is still a job to be done in making consumers aware of the lower-strength beersnow available, the trends are positive,” comments BBPA Chief Executive Brigid Simmonds.

“In the past couple of years, we have seen huge innovation from British brewers in bringing new, lower-strength products to market and giving consumers greater choice.”

Since 2011 the beer market has seen the launch of many new, lower-strength products between 2.0 percent ABV and 2.8 per cent ABV across all levels of production.  Whilst all these beers will be based on the same, common natural ingredients used for standard strength beers, there are also opportunities to experiment with new ingredients and in particular fruits, such as lemons or limes.

However it’s not all good news, under current advertising rules, brewers cannot promote lower-strength drinks, as such products are not ‘legally defined’ and producers are restricted from advertising approaches which make a virtue of ‘strength’. The British Beer & Pub Association is urging the Government to help change this, in particular through changes in the food labelling regulations to introduce definitions for lower strength products, in addition to those for low or alcohol free drinks at or below 1.2 per cent ABV.

“There is now a great range of lower-strength beers brewed from 1 to 3.5 per cent ABV with a fabulous range of flavours – just think how much the industry could do, if we could advertise or promote these drinks as ‘lower-strength’.” concludes Brigid.

So, if you’re considering one of the lower- strength or alcohol free options this summer – why not give one of them a try, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

* † ‡ComRes surveyed 2044 GB adults online (3-4 December 2014)