Non-alcoholic beer. Gak. Sort of the definition of gak. I have tried. For a while almost 20 years ago there was a brand of near beer that blended well with some brand of real beer and I was happily drinking 2.5% on a Saturday afternoon. But that was then. I've no idea now what was in the glass. Elsewhere, it's different - near beer is what many in Spain prefer:
Spain... is the Mecca of nonalcohol beer. About 13% of the beer consumed here is nonalcohol, according to the Brewers of Spain trade group. The country is the world's biggest per-capita consumer of nonalcohol beer, with sales of 5.8 liters a person last year... Nonalcohol beer gained visibility on Spain's shelves in the 1980s and then took off about a decade ago, around when the government and brewers started advertising campaigns to curb drunk driving by reminding people about nonalcohol beer. Some officials credit the ads for helping cut Spanish traffic deaths by about 50% since 2000... Grupo Mahou-San Miguel, Spain's largest beer maker, spends about 20% of its marketing budget on nonalcohol beers, up from 10%–15% in 2005, says Javier Herrero-Velarde, the company's marketing director.
The article notes that the product is often positioned as an alternate to soda pop - which removes arguments focused on the booze - as well as a safe alternate - which highlights arguments focused on the booze. I don't know much about European Spanish beer culture other than what Pete Brown discusses in his second book, 2006's Three Sheets to the Wind. He notes, at page 46, that it "is a culture where getting drunk to the point of losing control is... considered barbarous, disgusting, ridiculous and a blot on a man's honour." Glasses are small, sessions are extended and mixed with food, the state of la chispa or "spark" is achieved.
Does all that explain the market share? Does it make the prospect of a proper tasty non-alcoholic beer more inviting? Perhaps - if one actually existed.