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The Bar Man - Fake bands and beer




It’s not just the news that is fake. Head down to the Corn Exchange and you will find that the programme features lots of ‘fake bands’ or tribute artists as they are sometimes known.

In the world of food and drink, there is a product that is well on the way to becoming a billion dollar industry. Take a type of soil mold called Fusarium venenatu, ferment it, then add glucose, fixed nitrogen, vitamins and minerals and heat-treat it to remove excess levels of ribonucleic acid.

I am not sure that explaining that on the label will help sales, so call it Quorn and add other stuff to make it look a bit like meat and it flies off the shelves.

Beer is not immune to this impersonation craze, with sales of non-alcohol and low alcohol varieties becoming ever more popular. In the year up to the middle of 2017, sales grew by over 20 per cent in value and 17 per cent by volume as super strength brands declined, losing around 12 per cent.

Brewers are beginning to take it seriously, with sales of Brewdog Nanny State reaching over £2 million per year, while St Peter’s Brewery based just over the border in Suffolk now produce a ‘Without’ range that accounts for 15 per cent of their total sales.

In the recent Winter Olympics, the German team doctor, Johannes Scherr, recommended that the athletes should consume a beer directly after competing.

He published a study in 2009 that found that athletes who drank a non-alcoholic beer after training or competing experienced “significantly less inflammation” and “fewer upper respiratory infections”.

Apparently non-alcoholic beer is aggressively marketed as a sports drink in Germany and consumption is second only to Iran. Given to number of medals the German team won, it has done little to harm their performance.

Again this year, runners who finish the Berlin marathon will be offered a bottle of Erdinger Alkoholfrei alcohol-free beer.

How is this pseudo beer made? You can heat the finished brew to evaporate the alcohol, you can use reverse osmosis to remove the alcohol or you can brew the beer using less malt and sugar so that the alcohol isn’t produced in the first place.

Labelling the resultant beverage is one area that Britain has taken back control. In Europe and the USA any beer with less than 0.5 per cent abv is considered non-alcoholic, but here there are 4 different ways it can be labeled.

Alcohol free can only be applied to beer with less than 0.05 per cent alcohol. De-alcoholised is any drink from which the alcohol has been extracted leaving it less than 0.5% per cent abv. Low alcohol has between 0.5 and 1.2 per cent abv.

Non-alcoholic cannot be used as a descriptive team for any drink that normally contains alcohol even if it has no alcohol at all. Got all that?

I hope so, because this is the future. Will I be joining the party?

I don’t think so. I don’t do tribute bands, and I won’t knowingly choose Quorn.

Sometime around the middle of April I hope it will be steak for tea, the Circus of Horrors at the Corn Exchange and a proper pint afterwards. That’s a real evening out.



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