Mid­dle classes risk health for super-strength craft beers...

Sunday Express - - CRISIS IN MENTAL HEALTH - By Do­minik Le­man­ski (Waitrose) (Sains­bury’s)

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

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