New Brunswick

NB Liquor now selling non-alcoholic Budweiser

The corporation is selling the non-alcoholic brew in an attempt to promote social responsibility.

Crown corporation starts selling alcohol-free beer to promote social responsibility

NB Liquor started selling the non-alcoholic brew last month. (Jordan Gill/CBC)

NB Liquor is diving into a new venture that's almost an oxymoron for the Crown corporation: Non-alcoholic beer.

Last month it started selling Budweiser Prohibition Brew, a zero per cent beer.

Mark Barbour a NB Liquor spokesman, said the move is part of the corporation's commitment to social responsibility.

"It was perfect kind of fit to introduce something that's socially responsible for an alternative for any occasion," said Barbour.

"If our customer is a designated driver, an expectant mom or simply wants to have a refreshing beer without alcohol, now we have a product in our stores to sell to this customer," said Barbour.

Many grocery stores in the province sell non- or low-alcohol beer, sometimes cheaper than NB Liquor. (Jordan Gill/CBC)
The new brew is priced at $19.99 for a 12-pack, which averages out to about $1.66 a can.

This comes after a summer where New Brunswickers have grown accustomed to paying less for beer.

The corporation introduced its 60 beer for $75 promotion in July, averaging out to $1.25 a can, to compete with beer prices in Quebec.

That means the fake beer costs $0.41 more than real beer.

The cheapest regularly priced beer the corporation stocks, brands such as James Ready, Keystone and Busch, cost $1.79 a can.

I can't imagine why anybody would want to drink that crap.- Craig Pinhey , wine and beer writer

Barbour said it's unfair to compare the cost of the two products, because they are fundamentally different.

"It's comparable to other products in the market that are non-alcohol, in fact it is somewhat a little cheaper," said Barbour.

Budweiser Prohibition Brew is on sale in at least one Fredericton-area grocery store. There the beer has a shelf price of $16.99, but with tax and deposit the final cost comes out to slightly higher than NB Liquor offers, at $20.73.

When comparing low alcoholic beer, beer with a alcohol content of 0.5 per cent or less, then the price difference is greater.
Craig Pinhey, a wine and beer writer, said NB Liquor is travelling into "uncharted territory." (CBC)

At that same grocery store, a 24-pack of Molson Excel will set customers back $19.64, or $0.82 a can, much lower than Budweiser's Prohibition Brew.

Craig Pinhey, a sommelier and wine and beer writer, said that while he doesn't know how much it costs to manufacture the non-alcoholic suds, that beer is often cheaper than other drinks depending on jurisdiction.

"When you're traveling in Europe quite often beer is cheaper than coffee and pop," said Pinhey.

NB Liquor said that it's too early to tell whether the new product will be a success.

The corporation's website shows a stock of 1,345 cases of the beer. Pinhey is also unsure what the final impact of the new product will be.

"It seems like they're into uncharted territory here. I don't know if there's a precedent to measure it. I mean, who knows? To me it sounds like a coin flip," said Pinhey.

Despite the uncertainty NB Liquor seems to be in favour of keeping the beer around.

"I think this product is on our shelf here to stay. It's the right thing to do," said Barbour.

Pinhey on the other hand is confused as to why it would stay, he said he's never had a good non-alcoholic beer.

"I've had some that weren't horrible, but I would never drink them," said Pinhey.

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