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Where does that 0.5% come from?

At OnderNulPuntVijf we sell beers up to (and including) 0.5% alcohol. In recent years, that percentage has become a standard for “alcohol-free” beer. But what is that 0.5% based on?

The most important basis for a lower alcohol percentage in drinks is legislation. For example, until the end of the 19th century, Gingerbeer was a drink with up to 11% alcohol. Until the British government introduced export taxes on drinks with an alcohol content above 2%. This led to the “standard” alcohol percentage of Gingerbeer being a maximum of 2% worldwide from then on.

In the Netherlands there is no reason at all to use 0.5% as a limit. The Commodities Act Decree refers to alcohol-free beer if the alcohol percentage contains a maximum of 0.1% alcohol. That percentage is already present in a ripe banana, for example. The 0.0% stated on non-alcoholic beers is therefore also a rounded percentage.

It is virtually impossible to drink so many 0.5 beers that you are no longer allowed to drive

In the Netherlands, low-alcohol beer may contain up to 1.2% alcohol according to the same Commodities Act Decree. This corresponds to the percentages used in Italy and France. Although it may be called “non-alcoholic beer” there. Spain is in between again with a percentage of 1%. The European Union also uses 1.2%. Below that, a manufacturer doesn't even have to mention it on the label, although they almost always do.

The 0.5% is a percentage that is used as a limit for paying excise duty in countries such as Great Britain, the United States and Germany. And these countries have also set the international standard for non-alcoholic beer. In the US, the term non-alcoholic is used for this. Alcohol-free may only be used here for real 0.0% beers.

Perhaps the most important factor for 0.5% as a limit is that the consumer sees it as an acceptable percentage to still be alcohol-free. For example, it is virtually impossible to drink so many 0.5 beers that you are no longer allowed to drive. And after (endurance) sports it is even recommended as a thirst quencher . A higher alcohol content would certainly undermine this claim. And rounded off, Below Zero Point Five (OnderNulPuntVijf) beer is of course simply 0%.


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