Czechs consuming record amount of non-alcoholic beer: Here are 5 to try

As large Czech brewers announce autumn price hikes across their ranges in line with inflation, many are questioning old drinking habits.

 William Nattrass

Written by William Nattrass Published on 21.09.2021 19:00 (updated on 21.09.2021) Time to read: 3 minutes

With a wide range of world-famous brands and a plethora of craft brewers, there’s no question the Czech Republic is a heaven for beer lovers. Now, though, the country is also seeing dramatically increased interest in non-alcoholic beers, with consumption more than doubling over the last six years.

The rise of non-alcoholic beers indicates a change in drinking habits, with a greater wish to enjoy beer in social gatherings, or simply for the taste, without any of the usual intoxicating effects.

As large Czech brewers announce autumn price hikes across their ranges in line with inflation, many are questioning old drinking habits. The proliferation of types of non-alcoholic beer makes it easier to enjoy a drink during a work lunch, or before driving. Others are now discovering the possibilities of beer mixed drinks, in which non-alcoholic beer is combined with fruit juice.

“Non-alcoholic beer thrives every year. In 2020, it accounted for 7.3 percent of the total amount of beer produced for the domestic market, growing by 1.2 percent year-on-year,” Martina Ferencová, Executive Director of the Czech Association of Breweries and Malthouses, told Hospodářské noviny.

The rising prices of Czech beer do not seem to have deterred consumption, and there was no significant decline in the value of alcoholic beer produced by Czech breweries during the pandemic.

In 2020, Czech breweries produced beer worth a total of CZK 27.1 billion, only marginally lower than the record high year of 2019. Non-alcoholic beers were meanwhile produced with a total value of CZK 1.8 billion.

Back in 2014, the total value of non-alcoholic beer produced in the country was only CZK 870 million. While the value of alcoholic beer rose by 6.1 percent from 2014 to 2020, the value of non-alcoholic beer grew by a whopping 112.6 percent in the same period.

The share of the market taken by non-alcoholic beer has increased dramatically: back in 2014, it only represented 3.2 percent of the total value of beer production, but its portion of the market is now more than twice as large. Last year, production of non-alcoholic beer in the Czech Republic broke the 100 million liter mark for the first time ever.

Drinking non-alcoholic beer is believed to negate many of the long-term health risks that come with drinking regular beer. Shifting drinking habits are meanwhile likely to be popular with brewers, who do not have to pay excise duty on non-alcoholic products.

With the growing appetite for non-alcoholic beer seeming to be a winner for drinkers and brewers alike, it seems likely the boom in consumption will continue in years to come.

5 Czech non-alcoholic beers to try

Czech non-alcoholic beer can contain no more than 0.5 percent alcohol. It is typically labeled as nealko or nealkoholické pivo, and occasionally as "low-alcohol" beer, or "alcohol-free."

  • Samson Pito was the first Czechoslovak non-alcoholic beer, a portmanteau of pivo (beer) and auto (car), introduced in the 1970s. It recently won a silver medal for the Czech Republic in the prestigious World Beer Awards competition.
  • Bakalár Dry Hopped Non-Alcoholic Lager won a World Beer Award in 2020 for its "beautiful golden color with a big creamy head."
  • Bernard Free ranked high in a blind taste conducted by Czech publication iDnes for its malty flavor and rich foam.
  • Vozka from Svijany was a favorite of our beer tester following a previous blind taste test and has fans on beer geek social platform Untappd.
  • Platan’s světlé, part of the Lobkowicz group was another favorite among our tester. Read his full review here.
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