Speaking at a recent Club Soda summit in London, Chiles, who recently made a personal documentary for the BBC about his decision to cut back on alcohol, said pubs and bars needed to improve choice and market their 'low and no' drinks better.
He said: “I’m a great lover of pubs, but on this issue, I assumed that pubs were the enemy, that there must be some kind of plot that they’d only sell alcoholic beers, but seems to be that maybe they’re not. I know pubs are struggling, but they’ve got to try different things."
Range in pubs
He added: “I spend a lot of time in pubs, and you look, myopically, along the line of pumps, looking for the tiny, tiny thing saying what alcohol is in it, and if I can find an IPA at 3.6%, I’m lucky.”
Chiles said the range is just not there: “It’s poor customer choice, and I’m not being tight-arsed about it. I’m not saying weaken all beers, or prohibition or whatever, just increase consumer choice. There should be a range of alcohol-free, low-alcohol, and ordinary loony juice in every single pub.”
He acknowledges his lack of understanding of the challenges of running a pub but says the argument that there’s no demand for those kinds of products doesn’t wash with him.
“I would say there’s no demand because you don’t put it out there. You’re not going to sell anything by having it mouldering in the bottom of a fridge. It needs to be out and proud.”
However, a key factor he feels is holding back the market from embracing low and no-alcohol beers is portion size.
“Put it in bigger bottles! I know some come in 500ml bottles, but that’s a massive thing, because then, it’s like a proper drink in your hand. If you’re a pint drinker, the best thing would be if there was draught, because then you’ve got a pint in your hand like everybody else. But failing that, a proper bottle!”
He added he’d like to see one of the bigger pub chains collaborating with one of the brewers to work on getting a low and no-alcohol products on draught.