The Great Non Alcoholic Pricing Swindle.

In Blogby David Fleming1 Comment


Through the looking glass: Ireland, where non-alcoholic tipples are as pricey as booze itself. Makes sense, right? Eh…

Have you ever gone for a night out in Dublin and bought a non-alcoholic beer in a pub? Did you notice something? If they have non-alcoholic beer, it’s usually a rip off. David Fleming took a look at the pricing scandal facing non-boozers.

Here are just a few examples of the prices of non-alcoholic beers in some of Dublin’s pubs;

Murrays: O’Connell St = €6:00 pt.

Hartigans: Leeson St = €5:40 pt.

Fibbers: Parnell St = €5:70 pt.

Sugar Club = €4:00 for a 275ml bottle.

Sin E: Ormond Quay = €5:00 pt.

The Hop House: Parnell St = €4:00 for a 33cl bottle

The Olympia: Dame St = €5:00 pt.

Most of these were Erdinger non-alcoholic with the exception of the Sugar Club which was Becks Blue and Sin E and The Olympia; Paulaner. None of the pubs had any other non-alcoholic option at the time.

The question is why are they so expensive? Surely if there is no alcohol in the product the retailer doesn’t have to pay excise duty on the beer, therefore passing on the savings to patrons who wish to have a non-alcoholic beer for whatever reason that may be?

It is lent after all and a chance for the lapsed Catholics among us to suck up to Jaysus by giving something up for a while.

One publican I spoke with claimed that they still have to pay excise duty on the products hence the high prices. The Licensed Vintners Association told me that the person who could comment was unavailable to comment and even if he was available he would most likely not comment because of “competition law”.

The man on the other end of the phone did however assure me that he would pass on my details and maybe get back to me to comment or not.

That’s that cleared up then.


This publicans claims are simply not true, if they were I suspect the Licensed Vintners Association would have had no problem commenting.

The law states, that excise only applies when the alcohol limit exceeds 1.2% ABV, at which point it becomes low strength not non-alcoholic.

The beers priced above are all within the <0.5-1.2% ABV range, so the high prices charged by publicans seem to be just that, high prices for maximum profits, resulting in a hard hit in the wallet for people who want to have the privilege of not drinking alcohol.

Excise duty has not increased in the last two years, has been increased twice in the last 12 years and reduced once. The unhealthy choice (alcohol) has the most attractive price.

With three people a day dying from alcohol related deaths in this country amounting to a thousand or more a year. Links between alcohol and depression, the high suicide and self-harm rates, neglect of children and an estimated one in three road deaths those who wish not to drink should be incentivized.

Non-alcoholic beer prices should be drastically reduced in pubs and should never be more expensive than an alcoholic equivalent.


Rabble asked a few other Dublin pub goers their opinions. Barry Meaney (34) has been off the drink a month so far this year and was off it last year for nine months.

“Honestly it’s ridiculous; sometimes it’s even higher (then alcoholic drinks). I know in the Portobello, where they have four euro pints, and I’m on a bottle of Erdinger (non-alco) it’s €4:50. So I’m paying more to have a non-alcoholic pint then an alcoholic one and that really pisses me off”.

Mick Dervan (+55) thinks:

“It’s too expensive. For example someone that would drive maybe four people to a pub for a night out, either the publicans or the government should provide some kind of a subsidised drink for those who are designated drivers”.

You could always have a soft drink, but adults rarely will want to drink soft drinks all night and besides that they are also unhealthy and overpriced. Furthermore, non-drinkers in this country can slip under the radar of their drinking friends, if they so wish.

By choosing to have a non-alco beer others will be none the wiser saving the inevitable “you’re no craic tonight” jibes of their drinking companions.

As Barry says:

“I’ve mates coming up from Cork this weekend and in that group I’ll be the only one not drinking and it will be noticed. They’ll be fine with it but then after a few drinks you’ll be kind of in the mud and in their minds the person who is zero craic”.

He continued:

“I’m going to stick with not drinking for lent but I won’t even tell them when I go out, I’ll go to the bar and say something like; ‘I’m grand I don’t want to be in rounds’, then I’ll go up to the bar, pour a non-alco pint into a glass quickly and get back to the table and hopefully they won’t even notice”.

This is just one example of an attitude many non-drinkers have experienced themselves and it is one that must be changed. People who don’t drink (an estimated one in five) are given no incentive by pubs, government or wider society to drink non-alcoholic products.

The Lord himself endorses the tipple having been known to turn water into wine on occasion claiming this to be a miracle.

Even when they choose to pay the extortionate price, non-drinkers sometimes feel the need to hide this “shame” by trying to slip under the radar as a drinker.

It’s hard enough to do already without spending a fortune for the privilege and though it won’t solve the countries drinking problem it would at least make it that bit easier to try a non-alcoholic alternative.



  1. The Vintners Association are just grifters, the lot of em! Price of a pint isn’t because of excise either. It’s just gouging all around. Off with their heads!

Leave a Comment