Though the Czech Republic’s overall beer output rocked an all-time high of over 20 million hectoliters (12 million barrels) last year, growth is slowing as it hits the top of the arch. One category is still rocketing forward, however: nonalcoholic beer. In 2007, production of Czech nonalcoholic beer fully doubled from the year before, hitting half a million hectoliters of fine-to-drive lager containing .5% alcohol by volume or less.
That’s quite a change from just a few years ago, when nonalcoholic beer was rarely seen. Now nearly everyone offers nealkoholické pivo in bottles, and several varieties are even available on draft, with more versions showing up every month: Svijany introduced its nonalcoholic beer in 2006; Chodovar sent out its brew in 2007. Growth appears in every corner of the country: Litovel’s nonalcoholic beer production jumped 57% in 2007; Primátor expanded its distribution of NA beer by 65% from the year before; Budvar grew its sales of nealkoholické pivo by 55% last year.
Two reasons for the pick up:
1 . The Czech Republic has a zero-tolerance policy for drinking and driving. (It might be flouted, but that is the law.)
2. Some Czech nonalcoholic beers actually taste good.