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Why is Non-Alcoholic Booze so Expensive in Pubs?

Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

 I decided to stop drinking nearly three years ago after a particularly heavy night of boozing in Dublin’s city center. I had a bevy of drinks, stayed up far too late, and awoke the next day with an overwhelming sense of fear about how I acted and what I’d said the night before. I had one of those ‘come to Jesus’ moments where you tell yourself you are never drinking again. These self-proclamations are nearly always false dawns, as by the next Friday you’re half-cut on cheap lager singing along to WAP while standing on a pub table followed by a face-tonguing with your co-worker, Samantha from accounting, who tastes of curry chips and cheap sambuca.

This hungover Sunday morning that I am recounting was no false dawn, due to the unfortunate position I found myself in; having a flight to Manchester and me being a particularly nervous flyer.  The cherry on top was that the flight was incredibly turbulent throughout and I experienced an almightily anxious 45-minutes trip with multiple expeditions to the toilet in order to expel the multiple alcoholic concoctions I had consumed the night before.  I did notice halfway through one of my nauseous trips to the toilet that star of stage and screen Cillian Murphy was also on the flight, and I was comforted knowing that if the plane went down the media would just talk about him and not the man who was found in the wreckage with a toilet seat fused to his head.

The flight landed safely in Manchester and in my tender state I came to the realization I was no longer 21 with the ability to power through teeth-rattling hangovers, and I vowed to never put myself through an experience like that ever again. I decided to give up the hooch from that day forward and I haven’t looked back since. I have improved my relationships with my friends and family, become much healthier, and have felt a drastic upswing in my mental health.

The one issue that remains, however, is the unchanged dwindling of my bank balance after a night out, as the expense of going out to the pub painfully persists. Non-alcoholic drink options are improving every year, especially the beer selections, and the availability has become more widespread.  This is all well and good but what irks me is that the price point for N-A drinks are the same as their boozy equivalent. Supposedly it costs the manufacturer more money to make N-A drinks, but the lack of duty tax should offset this cost and result in me getting a cheaper pint of Guinness 0.0, rather than begrudgingly forking out €5.60 per jar.

Publicans are complaining more than ever that the pub trade is becoming increasingly difficult to keep afloat and the thinking appears to be that if you drink the N-A beer, you’re not going to consume as many drinks as the regular punters. The N-A booze doesn’t have that same moreish effect that comes from drinking the normal pish that pubs serve. I guess the pubs know that people like me are willing to pay these prices in order to socialize with friends and family. I would hope that once there’s enough breathing space post-pandemic when the government isn’t being screamed at by the pub trade; then they can look at capping prices for N-A drinks in pubs and incentivize healthier living, designated drivers, and overall putting a few quid back in the pocket of us dry shites. I won’t be holding my breath.

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