Alcohol-free event shifts social focus
It's not quite a pub with no beer, but it is a beer festival with no alcohol.
Fishguard and Goodwick Rugby Club will host the first ever Welsh Alcohol-Free Beer Festival on March 1.
It's part of the Communities Together project, which has been working with local people in the twin towns of Fishguard and Goodwick, on the north Pembrokeshire coast, to promote a healthier relationship with alcohol. One major success has been in organising social events where alcohol is not the main focus.
Project Manager Marc Mordey said: "Over the years, we've organised walking football, ballroom dancing, poetry evenings and heavy metal music. Our Alcohol-Free Beer Festival is yet another opportunity for people to get together and enjoy an evening out where the booze isn't centre stage.
"The Communities Together project has never been anti-alcohol. Most people taking part like a drink or two; and, if we're honest, some of us overdo it sometimes. The Alcohol-Free Beer Festival is not about giving up your usual beer for ever more; it's about trying some of the many new alcohol-free and low-alcohol beers that are out there, and seeing what takes your fancy."
Andrew Misell of the charity Alcohol Concern, which is supporting the festival, said: "There's been a big increase in the number of alcohol-free and very low-alcohol beers available, which is great news for those of us who like a pint or two but also like to keep a clear head.
"A number of the big breweries - like San Miguel and Cobra - have seized the opportunity to get alcohol-free versions of popular brews on the shelves. It's not just lagers, either, with craft brews like Big Drop chocolate stout, St Peter's Without, and Innis & None pale ale recently coming onstream.
Andrew Misell also laid down a challenge to the drinks business in Wales to do more to meet the demand for alcohol-free ales:
"The only downside in all this is that many alcohol-free beers have to be ordered by post, since you can't get them in the shops. We hope the Alcohol-Free Beer Festival will spur more pubs, bars and shops to stock these beers, so that customers can pick them just like any other beer.
"Also, all of the beers in the festival have come from England, Scotland and further afield. It would be great to see some of the Welsh brewers getting to grips with the challenge of brewing a decent alcohol-free ale."
The first ever Welsh Alcohol-Free Beer Festival will be part of a beer and curry night from 7pm onwards on 1 March at Fishguard and Goodwick Rugby Club, 61-63 West Street, Fishguard, SA65 9NG.
Admission is free, and meat and vegetable curries will be on offer, also free of charge, as well as traditional Welsh cawl.
A wide range of alcohol-free and low-alcohol beers will be available to sample in return for a donation of your choice to support the club.