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Hard-drinking Czechs go soft on beer with 'radler'

Hard-drinking Czechs go soft on beer with 'radler'
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Brewers in the world’s number one beer drinking nation the Czech Republic say consumers are shifting irreversibly towards softer mixed drinks.

Known as ‘radler’, it mixes beer with fruit flavours or lemonade.

Although sales are relatively small compared to regular beer, the market share has quadrupled in two years and is expected to keep on growing.

Younger people, especially those who would not normally drink beer, are increasingly tempted.

Andrei, a young Russian tourist in Prague, was drinking regular beer while his girlfriend sampled radler.

“Most of all I liked traditional beers, both light and dark, as for the rest – she likes them very much, all these coffee, banana ones. I like traditional ones better.”

There was little enthusiasm in Britain when Czech breweries tried to introduce radler a decade ago.

Some purists are sceptical of claims that radler is healthier than traditional beer.

But at home the brewing industry is under pressure.

Domestic consumption has fallen by 10 percent in a few years and experts say producers must adapt.

“We started producing radler at the beginning of the year, in March or April, the production is growing. I must say we are struggling to satisfy the demand,” said Ales Hronec, a manager at the Krusovice Brewery.

Despite a gradual decline in consumption and the economic downturn, sales of traditional beer rose in the first half of the year and the Czech Republic still tops the world’s beer drinking rankings.

Its new fruity rival still has some way to go.