Carlsberg lowers alcohol content in response to UK duty rates

By William Dodds

- Last updated on GMT

Carlsberg Danish Pilsner sold in the UK will have its ABV reduced from 3.8% to 3.4% Credit: Carlsberg
Carlsberg Danish Pilsner sold in the UK will have its ABV reduced from 3.8% to 3.4% Credit: Carlsberg

Related tags Carlsberg Beer Government Tax Brewery

Carlsberg is lowering the alcohol content of its Danish Pilsner to 3.4% in response to a tax hike set to be introduced in the UK from 1 August.

Carlsberg Danish Pilsner sold in the UK will have its alcohol by volume (ABV) reduced from 3.8% to 3.4% as a result of a UK duty rise set to be rolled out this summer.

As of 1 August 2023, packaged drinks with an ABV above 3.5% will face an increase in duty of £1.93 per litre of pure alcohol, raising the total duty to £21.01 per litre. Currently, beer with 3.4% ABV and lower is taxed at £19.08 per litre, but that will fall to £9.27 for packaged beer and £8.42 for draught from 1 August.

In response, Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company (CMBC) has joined several other brands in lowering the abv of its Danish Pilsner brew sold in the UK.

Following blind tests conducted by Carlsberg, the brewer said that drinkers rated the new version on a par with the strong edition for ‘refreshment’, ‘easy drinking’ and ‘crispness’, while more preferred the strength of the 3.4% beer.

The reduced ABV version will go on sale throughout the UK later this, CMBC confirmed.

UK alcohol duty reforms

Following the announcement, a spokesperson for CMBC said that the change would remove close to 56 million units of alcohol from the UK market each year.

In line with the Government’s alcohol duty reforms, and as policymakers intended, reducing the ABV of Carlsberg Danish Pilsner enables us to invest in innovation and in our portfolio of much-loved lagers and ales,” ​the spokesperson added.

The news was welcomed by alcohol charity Drinkaware, with chief executive Karen Tyrell urging other beer brands to follow suit.

We welcome Carlsberg Marston's Brewing Company's (CMBC) decision to reduce the alcohol-by-volume levels in one of its leading brands​,” Tyrell said.

Reformulations like this demonstrate a positive outcome of the Government’s recent reforms of alcohol duty. Lowering the amount of alcohol in this way helps contribute to our shared goal of reducing alcohol harm​.”

In related news, sales for traditional beer have seen a decline in the past year​ as low alcohol alternatives enjoy a sales spike.

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