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Czech breweries turn to shandy

In a country famous for its beer traditions, over half of the Czech Republic’s top breweries are now selling pre-mixed shandy in bottles, in response to falling sales of traditional beer, and changing lifestyles.

Beer, pre-mixed with lemonade and other fruit-based flavours, has been responsible for the first rise in Czech domestic beer sales in over two years. Known as “Radlers”, the shandy-style beers are proving popular with drinkers in their twenties and thirties thanks to their sweeter taste and lower alcohol levels of around 2% ABV.

Jan Vesely, director of the Czech Beer and Malt Association, told Reuters: “The production rise is all due to mixed (beer) drinks. It is booming and is an added dimension to the Czech beer culture.”

Staropramen was the first major brewer to offer a shandy-style mixed beer with its launch of “Cool Lemon” last year. Other brewers had tried unsuccessfully to produce similar bottled styles in previous years, but their appeal to younger and more brand-conscious drinkers now seems assured.

Beer consumption per capita in the Czech Republic is still the highest in the world at 144 litres per year, but has been steadily falling in recent decades. In 2009, domestic beer sales in the country of Pilsen and Budejovice dropped by almost 6%, and in 2010 by more than 8%. However, those figures rose by 1.4% in the first half of 2012.

Radlers now account for around 2% of the domestic beer market, a figure that is predicted to rise to 5% by 2014.

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