Well, apparently Molson Coors think they do, as part of their relaunch of Caffrey’s nitrokeg ale involves reducing its strength from 4.2% ABV to a mere 3.8%. Caffrey’s was originally launched in the mid-Nineties at 4.8% ABV, and at that strength it did at least have a distinctive alcohol kick to it. It was eventually reduced to 4.2% as drinkers apparently found it too strong for a prolonged session, and now they’ve had a second bite at the cherry. But whether drinkers will come flocking now it’s been made weaker than many ordinary bitters and cooking lagers is very questionable. It all very much smacks of flogging a dead horse, to be honest. It joins the ever-growing list of popular beers and ciders whose strength has been cut in recent years.
On a related note, virtually every pub now will offer a 5% ABV premium lager – Stella, Heineken, Carlsberg Export, Kronenbourg 1664 etc. – yet outside specialist outlets it is very rare to find an ale of similar strength as a regular beer. Greene King Abbot Ale is about the only widely-available example I can think of. Even its stablemate Old Speckled Hen was reduced to 4.5% in draught form a few years ago. The explanation for this must be that consuming ales of that strength in volume is just so much more like hard work than lagers.