Do you ever feel like the only sane person in a mad world?

Or a mad person in a sane world?

I'm not sure which it is, but my views on no or low alcohol booze appear to be completely at odds with the industry itself and indeed sales figures.

It seems every radio and TV station has been focussing on this rise of late. Obviously it ties in with the national hangover everyone is enduring at the start of January, but this is part of a wider trend.

In the run up to Christmas just about every brewer in the land was proudly pushing out an alcohol free (or low alcohol) version of one of their traditional brews.

The market is growing across Europe, with non-alcoholic beer accounting for two per cent of all beer sales. This includes an 11 per cent growth in one of the world's leading beer nations, Germany.

It's a similar trend here too. Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, recently declared that lower strength beers are "are a really great opportunity for the beer market."

Sales figures from Nielsen shows that 43million pints of non-alcoholic beer were drunk in the last year, up 27 per cent on 2017.

And generally as a nation we are drinking far less, with one in five people teetotal and many more reducing their alcohol intake.

You see, I can understand the second part of that. It's hard to criticise people who want to take better care of their physical and emotional well-being. If they believe that not drinking is the best option for them, I'm not going to be able to argue otherwise.

In fact, I carefully consider by own levels of consumption, particularly at this time of year. My work and social life means I spend lots of time in the pub, so I would be foolish not to.

There are times when I cut right back on alcohol and other food items in a bid to shed a few pounds and feel a bit better about myself.

But never in my four decades and some on this planet have I ever thought that an alcohol-free version of a beer or a spirit is something I would want to try.

I just mean, why?

Forgive me if I sound a little old fashioned and slightly off the PC path here, but isn't one of the joys of drinking the warmth and social relaxation that you can feel after a pint or two?

I'm not saying that you need alcohol for that feeling but denying that it has a positive benefit as a social lubricant would really beg the question as to why we have enjoyed fermented beverages for thousands of years longer than democracy.

Beer without alcohol? I just don't get it. It's like a football match without a football.

I can understand why you would go to a pub and not drink alcohol. I have (occasionally) been that person but soft drinks have always sufficed for me. There are even greater options available now that sugar reduction is such a big thing.



So why choose an alcohol-free beer or spirit when a soft drink is surely just as thirst-quenching?

Is it the taste? Is it to look as if you are part of the crowd? Do you generally just prefer them?

I really would like to know. So pubs who sell them and punters who drink them please let me know what it is that is making no alcohol free booze such a growth area.