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@Guiltfreepints is the instagram account of Matt. Last Wednesday evening I spoke to him on the phone. Matt is one of the first Alcohol Free Beer Influencers in the world. He started back in 2018, has 3200 followers on Instagram and I got to ask him a couple of questions.

Who is the man behind Guiltfreepints?

I am originally from the town of Harrow, northwest of London. Almost 3 years ago I moved to Amsterdam for work and I really like it. My Dutch isn’t so good, but I am working on that! Especially because my girlfriend is also Dutch, I want to make sure I can communicate in her family’s own language!

How did you start drinking non-alcoholic beer?

That is for health reasons. When I was little, I had heart surgery and it was already clear that I had to have surgery again when I was an adult. For that operation, I could choose between a biological valve or a metal one. Because the latter was a more stable solution, I chose that. With the consequence that I can no longer drink alcohol because of the medicines I have to take.

Before that I liked to drink beer, like all my friends and colleagues. But after that surgery I couldn’t take any risks and I stopped drinking alcohol. And the non-alcoholic beer market is fantastic! You can even buy non-alcoholic beer in most supermarkets and I noticed that I started looking up more and more tasty beer.

And luckily, I am also still healthy. Last year I even cycled from Amsterdam to London for a good cause.

How cool is it that we can now have extensive conversations and discussions about how delicious an alcohol-free beer is, or is not. That’s nice!

Which beers do you like?

Oooooh, that's a tough question. Of course, I expected it, but I still find it difficult. Can I mention three?

Then that is the Playground NON IPA from VandeStreek. That is really a cool beer and there is almost no difference with a regular IPA. And also the Porter from Braxzz. The first non-alcoholic Porter there was. I always have a few of these in my fridge. And finally, the Run Wild from Athletic Brewery. What those guys have done in America is fantastic. They really smashed up the alcohol-free beer market there!

Are there also bad non-alcoholic beers?

Yes of course, just like with the regular beers, there are also less tasty ones. In the past, a lot of non-alcoholic beers on Untapped had poor ratings. This was mainly because people accidentally bought alcohol-free and misrepresented it. Fortunately, that has improved in recent years. How cool is it that we can now have extensive conversations and discussions about how delicious an alcohol-free beer is, or is not. That’s nice!

How do you see the future of AV beer, say in 10 years?

Bigger, more and better! And better regulation. For the latter I mean guidelines for pregnant women and people with health issues like myself. I also hope it will get cheaper. Not everyone wants or can afford to pay € 3 for a can of beer.

Non-alcoholic beer is not just a hype. It's here to stay. The younger generation is already drinking less alcohol than we used to, and I assume that in 10 years time more people will have alcohol-free beer in their fridge than now.

You regularly write reviews about av beer on Instagram.

Shortly after my surgery I started with my Instagram account. Like I said, the ratings on Untapped were biased. That's why I made my own reviews. And at the time, I was one only a handful of accounts doing that. This was a very nice way to tell how good some beers are. I followed a lot of beer accounts with many followers and then started a discussion with them about alcohol-free beer. Often they had never tasted it before, so they didn't know what they were talking about.

It has now become a great passion. And I also love taking beautiful pictures.

I also met fantastic people, for example Robin, from @UnderOneBeer. He now organizes a virtual alcohol-free beer festival in England. Super cool to be able to get in touch with people like that.

Why would you only drink beer with alcohol when there are tasty beers without it.

How often do you drink non-alcoholic beers?

As often as I can. Almost every day. Sometimes a Heineken and sometimes something else. I never actually drink during the day. For me it remains a treat that I look forward to.

About 2 to 3 times a week I try something new. And then I also write a review about it. Sometimes I review a beer for a second time, but that is quite exceptional.

How did you get those beautiful beers?

By begging, hahahah. No, honestly, when I started, I didn't even know the word influencer, but suddenly people sent me beers. One of the nice side effects of what I do now is that I get some of the most beautiful beers sent for free. But that’s not what it’s about!

And of course there is plenty for sale online. It is showing strong growth in England and Germany and the number of stores with a good range is also growing in the Netherlands. Both online and at physical stores.

What do you hope to achieve with your posts?

I love it when a conversation takes place. And especially when it comes to whether I like a beer or not. Or a simple thank you if I posted a review. I hope that there eventually there will be nice non-alcoholic beer in every bar and restaurant.

You post very nice photos. Are you doing anything special to make it so beautiful?

Just ask my girlfriend, she always laughs at me. I prefer to use my Canon camera and spend a lot of time on it. The lightning is very important, and you also have to take your photo very quickly. The foam on the beer doesn't last very long so you have to be quick.

What do you like about social media?

As I said, making connections with people from all over the world. I have regular contact with someone who does the same as me only in Australia. That is fantastic. It really has become its own online community.

Do you think non-alcoholic beers are healthy?

In any case healthier. Not all beers are good for you. Take the Omnipollo Blueberry Soup, that is 200 kCal per can. Don't drink too much of it, hahaha. But in 10 years' time we will probably also know more about the long-term effect of non-alcoholic beers. Then it sells itself.

What would you say to people who still have doubts about drinking non-alcoholic beer?

Buy a few, or else I'll buy a few for you .. oh no, don't put that in there, hahaha. I encourage everyone to just try it. Why would you only drink beer with alcohol when there are tasty beers without it. Then you just drink to get drunk?

In any case, I hope that I can transfer the spark to others with my enthusiasm.

And now I’m gonna pour myself a Run Wild! Cheers!
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