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Alcohol-free beer becoming more popular in the Netherlands05 July 2014, by Alexandra Gowling
Alcohol-free beer continues to grow in popularity in the Netherlands, while sales of "real" beer have dropped slighlty over the last year.
In total, Dutch brewers sold 11,7 million hectolitres (a hectolitre is 1.000 litres) of beer in 2013, 3,6 per cent less than the year before. Within that, however, sales low-alcohol and non-alcoholic beer grew significantly.
In fact, Dutch beer drinkers consumed 190.000 hectolitres of non-alcoholic beer, an increase of nearly 14 per cent from 2012.
Why drink alcohol-free beer?
Around four in 10 Dutch people say they occasionally drink alcohol-free beer, and women are more likely to choose it than men, according to the annual survey by the Dutch Brewers Association.
Nonetheless, men are also choosing to go alcohol-free with greater frequency, for reasons such as they have to drive (64 per cent), they do not want to drink alcohol [at that time] (36 per cent) or just because they like the taste (21 per cent).
Cees-Jan Adema, the director of the Dutch Brewers Association, thinks it’s a good thing that low alcohol and alcohol-free beer are growing in popularity.
"It is an innovative segment, in which more and more variety in tastes is offered. Low-alcohol and alcohol-free beer are therefore not just an alternative for times when you can’t drink alcohol. Alcohol-free and low-alcohol beer really have their own place within the overall beer market."
General beer-drinking habits
The research also surveyed the general beer-drinking habits of the Dutch. Apparently, almost all beer is purchased in supermarkets (93 per cent).
The choice of beer is determined almost equally by brand and price, with taste a third consideration, while nearly a quarter of the Dutch prefer buying locally brewed beer.
People generally drink beer with friends, with family coming in second and drinking just with a partner third, although women were more likely to say they drink beer more often with their partner than men.
Also, people mostly do not do their drinking at a café: six out of 10 glasses of beer are drunk comfortably at home.
The ideal Dutch beer
For the Dutch, the ideal glass of beer is 84 per cent beer to 16 per cent foam; around the famous "two fingers" mark. It’s also important that the glass is the right one: three-quarter of people thought that the glass should match the beer.
The Dutch beer drinker is also very proud of Dutch beer. While a majority of Dutch (55 per cent) when holidaying abroad will choose a beer brand from the country they are in, one in five will choose a Dutch beer if available.
Source: Nederlandse Brouwers