Proud of Pubs (that sell a good choice of alcohol-free!)

Last week on I was lucky enough to become the 2000th follower of the twitter account @ukpubs launched by the pub trade magazine The Publican and won a T-shirt. The shirt arrived emblazoned with the statement “The Publican – Proud of Pubs”. Rather ironic you might say, but the fact is I am Proud of Pubs – or, to be specific, I’m proud of pubs that provide a wide-range of alcohol-free drinks. Sadly that isn’t enough of them.

Too often we hear tales from customers of their struggle to find a decent alcohol-free beer in a pub. Kaliber is still the staple in many pubs (we do sell it and some customers love it, but I don’t rate it and neither do most of our customers). If you’re lucky you might find one other beer in some pubs which tends to be a brand dictated by whoever the pub is tied to. You‘ll find Becks in some, Bitburger in some others, Holsten in a few. But very few pubs will actually offer customers a real choice.

Imagine if you had the choice of only one alcoholic beer in a pub, customers wouldn’t put up with it. But for most of us who choose not to drink, whether permanently as in my case, or temporarily because they are driving, dieting, on medication or simply want a night out without the booze, there is often no choice.

The lack of choice, combined with the frequently ‘comic’ replies to the question “Do you have any alcohol-free beer?” really serves to stop non-drinkers from asking. Then the landlord says, there’s no demand.

Trust me, the demand is out there. We sell enough of it across the UK for home consumption to know that. And one of the most common things we get from customers is “Why can’t you get pubs to carry your drinks?”

Well they can, and many do, but not enough. As well as offering pubs a wide range of beers (over 25 different alcohol-free beers – yes, there are that many and most are great), we even offer customised point of sale material including “The Alcohol-Free Menu”- laminated menus for tables and bar tops.

John Risby (left) of The Alcohol-Free Shop (wearing The Publican's "Proud of Pubs" t-shirt) and John Martin, Landlord of The Parkside, Prestwich, Bury.
John Risby (left) of The Alcohol-Free Shop (wearing The Publican's "Proud of Pubs" t-shirt) and John Martin, Landlord of The Parkside, Prestwich, Bury.

One pub that is doing it right is The Parkside in Prestwich, Bury. Landlords John and Eileen Martin have a wide range of alcohol-free beers and wine supplied by The Alcohol-Free Shop. As well as the custom menus, they also have other material around the pub promoting the products. The great thing about putting the menus on every table is it means customers aren’t afraid to ask “Do you sell any alcohol-free beer?”, they just have ask for the one they want from the choice on the menu. It’s that simple.

If you’re a pub customer who wants an alcohol-free beer, why not have a word at your local. Tell them about The Alcohol-Free Shop and The Alcohol-Free Menu, and tell them they’ve already got a customer waiting – you.

If you run a pub yourself then, like your competitor down the road, you’re probably looking for inventive ways to increase your income to help you get through the recession. Speak to us about how we can help you promote alcohol-free drinks in your pub and help generate some extra sales. Otherwise, you could be missing out on potential customers who feel let down by the lack of choice.

You can contact us via email at, freephone on 0800 224 8024, follow us on twitter at @alcoholfree (my personal non-work account is @j_alcoholfree) and, if you are in the north west, why not visit our shop in Failsworth, Manchester?

One thought to “Proud of Pubs (that sell a good choice of alcohol-free!)”

  1. I agree entirely. I stopped drinking alcohol three months ago after reading ‘The easyway to stop drinking’ by Allen Carr (not the daft comedian).I have enjoyed the alcohol-free drinks that I have bought from your company. But isn’t it a shame that the choice isn’t quite the same in pubs.

    I visited Bremen, Germany, before Christmas and I was pleasantly surprised with the fantastic choice of alcohol-free beers everywhere. Every single pub/club/hotel that I visited had alcohol-free wheat beers – and I went in a lot. It turns out that Alcohol-free beers have seen a massive growth in Germany in recent times.

    I suggest getting in touch with JD Wetherspoons and seeing if they will follow suit in the UK. They already stock Alcohol-free pear cider, why not Alcohol-free wheat beer and a couple of others. I will contact them as well, the more people ask the more chance we’ve got. Wetherspoons like to be at the forefront of change ,like with the smoking ban.

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