Times have changed since designated drivers had to settle for a Coke when out with family and friends. Now, there are lots of non-alcoholic beers to enjoy when you’re on driving duty – so taking one for the team doesn’t have to be a chore.
Historically, ale aficionados shunned non-alcoholic beer, and a poor range of options meant designated drivers were more likely to opt for a soft drink. In recent years, though, choices have greatly improved, meaning designated drivers are finally free from the boredom of yet another Coke, Appletiser, or J2O.
So, if you enjoy the odd pint but often find yourself playing taxi, it’s now possible to enjoy a cold one without overstepping the limit. The question is, which non-alcoholic beers are worth your time?
To find out, we took to Google to uncover which alcohol-free and low-alcohol beers proved most popular in monthly search results – taking some of the legwork out of choosing your favourite non-alcoholic brew. You can thank us later.
The UK’s Most Popular Low Alcohol and Non-Alcoholic Beers
If there’s one thing we Brits love, it’s beer – but a non-alcoholic version? That was always going to take some getting used to.
Recently, though, it does seem that the UK has at last embraced low and alcohol-free ale, with a 58% rise in 2020 alone. But which are our favourite low-alcohol beers? Find out below.
Familiar, big-name beer brands dominated much of our top 10, with low or non-alcoholic beers from the likes of Becks, Budweiser, Foster’s, Heineken and Peroni all clinching a premium spot. It’s worth pointing out, too, that lagers accounted for much of the shortlist, with only wheat beer, pale ale and IPA bucking the trend.
That’s not the complete picture, though. Elsewhere in the top 10, it was great to see new or independent breweries claiming a spot for their low-alcohol brews, including beloved craft beer brand BrewDog, historic German brewer Erdinger, and US microbrewery, Brooklyn.
The range of low to no-alcohol beers in our top 10 shows just how much the market has changed in recent years. Designated drivers now have nearly as much choice as regular punters, with hundreds of beers with a safe-for-driving ABV of 0.5% and under.
To illustrate just how quickly non-alcoholic beer has grown in popularity, take a look at our nifty chart below which shows the strong growth in alcohol-free ales since 2017.
Over the past four years, searches surrounding alcohol-free, and low-alcohol beer have risen sharply. And with new varieties hitting pub cellars and supermarket shelves with ever-growing frequency, it’s a trend that looks set to continue.
Despite the year-on-year rise, however, it is interesting to note a significant dip in search volume from April to June 2020 – when coronavirus lockdown restrictions were at their peak. While there’s no clear reason for this, it’s perhaps due to fewer people going out and requiring a designated driver. Or it could be as simple as people reaching for the hard stuff to cope with the new normal.
Here are some of the other key findings our research uncovered on non-alcoholic beer in the UK:
- In the UK, average monthly searches for ‘alcohol-free beer’ increased by 83% between December 2020 and January 2021, suggesting that Brits were attempting Dry January or cutting back after the festive season
- The UK’s most popular 10 ‘combined’ list was made up of 60% alcohol-free beers and 40% low alcohol beers
- The UK’s top three low-alcohol beers (those with a slight amount of alcohol present) were: BrewDog Nanny State (1,900 avg. monthly searches), Brooklyn Special Effects (1,000 avg. monthly searches) and Erdinger Alkoholfrei (720 avg. monthly searches)
Non-Alcoholic Beer Around the World
No and low-alcohol beer is popular the world over, with countries like Japan, Australia, and the US fans of low-booze brews for years. But which beers are best? Find out as we take a look at the best non-alcoholic lagers and ales from around the world.
While there were some familiar names in the top 10, the world’s taste for low-alcohol beer is surprisingly different to our own in the UK. For example, Becks Blue, the standout favourite for Brits, came only fifth in the world rankings, while Erdinger Alkoholfrei, the ninth-most popular low-alcohol beer in the UK, clinched the global number four spot.
Elsewhere, there were close similarities, particularly the spread of alcohol-free and low-alcohol brews. And, lager once again proved the world’s most popular type of low-alcohol beer, accounting for eight out of the 10 beers on the shortlist.
Here are other interesting facts and stats about the world’s preferences when it comes to low-alcohol beer.
- Heineken 0.0 was the world’s most popular non-alcoholic beer with 60,500 average monthly searches, followed by Budweiser Zero (40,500) and Becks Blue (5,400).
- Lager is the most popular type of non-alcoholic beer, making up 90% of the worldwide top 10
- Worldwide, average monthly searches for ‘alcohol-free beer’ increased by 22% between December 2020 and January 2021, aligning with Dry January
Non-Alcoholic Beer: A Dream for the Designated Driver
Designated drivers rejoice: it’s never been easier to go out with friends and family without lamenting a lack of beer. As our research demonstrates, there’s a huge variety of low and non-alcoholic beers on the market, so whether you’re into lager, IPA, or stout, you can still nurse a well-deserved pint when you’re out and about.
Do you agree with our top 10 lists? What are your favourite non-alcoholic drinks to enjoy as a designated driver? We’d love to hear from you, so get in touch on the Holts Facebook page.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this guide to the best non-alcoholic beers for designated drivers. For more motoring guides, features and news, visit the Holts UK blog. You can learn about our range of car maintenance tools, products, and accessories by visiting the homepage.