Middle classes risk health for super-strength craft beers...
WITH their alcohol content pushing 10 per cent, these beers have a potency once linked to street drinkers and thrill-seeking teenagers.
Yet the middle classes have embraced trendy craft beers, some containing a quarter of the recommended weekly intake in just over half a pint – a 300ml bottle.
The boom in craft beer has seen a huge new range arriving in pubs and supermarkets.
Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Tesco are among supermarkets selling an expanding range of specialist beers and ales with alcohol by volume (ABV) limits hitting more than nine per cent – above super-strength brands such as Carlsberg Special Brew, Skol Super, and Tennent’s Super, sitting at eight per cent ABV.
The Sunday Express findings come days after the Office of National Statistics revealed deaths due to alcohol are approaching levels last seen during the 2008 recession. Last year there were 7,697 alcohol-related deaths – 12.2 people out of every 100,000.
Andrew Misell, Alcohol Change UK’s director for Wales, said: “There’s nothing wrong with highstrength beers themselves, but it’s important we are aware of the higher strength.
“If we drink these as we would a weaker beer, we’re in danger of drinking a lot more than we intend.”
One of the strongest examples at Tesco is Brewdog Mr President American Double IPA (300ml), dubbed “an all-American gung-ho of a beer”, with 9.2 per cent ABV.
The £2.10 super-strength tipple contains 3.04 units of alcohol – almost a quarter of the weekly 14-unit recommended maximum.
Other specialist drinks at Tesco include Delirium Blonde Belgium Ale. At 8.5 per cent ABV, it contains 2.8 alcohol units and carries a warning to be “consumed with care”. A bottle costs £2.50.
Similarly, the Yeastie Boys Gunnamatta Earl Grey IPA (£1.80 for (Tesco)
Leffe Blonde Abbey Beer 6.6% 4 x 330ml for £5.25
330ml) contains 6.5 per cent ABV. Aimed at a youthful audience, Tesco’s website describes it as “boldly floral – much like your granny’s bedroom – with stonefruit and citrus notes and a long, dry finish”.
Other Tesco offerings include Leffe Blonde Abbey Beer at 6.6 per cent ABV (four bottles for £5.25) and the Stone IPA at 6.9 per cent ABV. Three 330ml cans cost £5.
Waitrose offers 7.4 per cent ABV Thornbridge Halcyon Imperial IPA at £2.29 for 330ml and Sainsbury’s sells 7.5 per cent ABV Dragon Stout, which customers are warned to “drink in moderation”.
Established brews such as the 8.5 per cent ABV Duvel from Belgium are sold at Waitrose.
Similarly, the eight per cent ABV Tripel Karmelit at Waitrose, a blonde Belgian beer originating from a Carmelite monastery in 1679, is aimed at middle-class shoppers as “best tried with asparagus and Hollandaise sauce”. It costs £2.99 a bottle.
Rosanna O’Connor, of Public Health England, said: “Stronger drinks can increase the number of units consumed without you realising, so if you are choosing stronger drinks, you should think about having fewer.” But alcohol and retail representatives defended the craft beer revolution.
Andrew Opie, of the British Retail Consortium, said: “Supermarkets have led the way in helping their customers drink responsibly, adopting the Health Department’s labelling to give clear information about the alcohol they sell under their brand and how that relates to recommended guidelines.
“Working with other partners such as the Drinkaware Trust, this has helped deliver a fall in excessive drinking.”
James Calder, of the Society of Independent Brewers, said of craft beers: “Belgian styles, imperial porters, stouts and some IPAs do have a higher ABV than what you might call a ‘normal’ beer at around four per cent ABV.
“These beers have more interesting and complex flavours so the higher ABV is simply part of that traditional style of brewing.
“Always remember that it’s the flavour that comes first. Try new beers and experiment, but always look at the label and be aware of your overall intake during the festive period.”
‘If we drink them like weaker beer, then we are in danger of drinking more than we intend’
Brewdog Elvis Juice 6.5% (2.2 units) 4 x 330ml for £6 Beavertown Lupoloid IPA London 330ml – 6.7% £2.40 Delirium Blonde Belgian Ale 330ml 8.5%£2.50