Meet Clinton and Lozen Schultz. They’re the husband-and-wife team behind Australia’s very first alcohol-free beer, Sobah.
The pair didn’t set out to be brewers, but as non-drinkers found it frustrating that while they could enjoy non-alcoholic beers imported from Europe at home, there was nothing available at the pub.
“We were still subjected to soda and lime while out at venues,” Clinton tells me. “Having been to Europe, it made sense to us that adult non-alc drinks should be available over the bar.”
How Sobah Beer Started
At the time, Clinton and Lozen were setting up a food truck with the aim of showcasing Australian native foods and their own craft drinks. They did some research and decided to extend this to an alc-free beer to put on tap. Their beer proved to be a huge success.
“It wasn't really intended to go further than that at the time, but people were finding us at events purely to fill bottles of our NA beer to take home. We decided to take it to the market and use it as a vehicle to make a cultural shift and do some good,” Lozen explains.
At the time, there were some low and ultra-low APV beers on the market, but they didn’t have a good reputation. This meant that consumers were a bit sceptical at first, but with a great tasting product and sheer perseverance, Clinton and Lozen proved that there was a market for alc-free craft beer.
“We built Sobah as a B2C business by having an online shop and shipping our beers Australia-wide. Then through localised consumer demand, we were able to start supplying independent retailers, restaurants, and cafes,” says Clinton.
It was harder to get Sobah into Licensed venues and larger retailers, but as the alc-free trend grows that is starting to speed up. “Non-alc and alco-free drinks have been coined a ‘trend’ but it's the fastest growing category in the beverages industry worldwide and it's here to stay,” Lozen adds.
Sobah - A truly ethical brand
So, what makes Sobah different from other alc-free beer brands? Clinton is empathic when he says that Sobah stands for something. “We wanted to create a choice for people who were choosing not to drink alcohol for whatever reason, and that this could be a driver to smash some negative stereotypes about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and raise positive awareness for our beautiful culture,” he explains.
On top of this, Sobah donates a big chunk of their profits to causes that support healing and mental health. “No one else is doing what we're doing, both in the way we do our beers and what we do with the capital from selling our beers, none of which could be possible without the ‘Sobah Tribe’ - We're eternally grateful for that,” says Lozen.
As well as being a First Nations business, Sobah beers are the only brand in the world to feature First Foods such as finger lime and pepperberry.
Clinton and Lozen hope that the current trend for alc-free drinks will have a big knock-on effect in the future. “The ideal spin-off from adults changing their drinking habits, is that children don't grow up with the normalisation of drinking alcohol. Overall, this should see our collective health and wellbeing improve,” Lozen explains.
Sobah is certainly playing a critical role in this journey. In fact, it’s fair to say that Sobah is much more than a beer. “Sobah is breaking down the stigma of socialising sober. We promote healthy lifestyle choices and wellness, social equity, sustainability, raise positive awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, smash stereotypes, unite people and, of course, our beers quench thirst.” says Clinton. “Sobah is the truly social drink.”
Fancy a Non-Alcoholic beer?
A light, fruity beer featuring grapefruit and lychee flavour notes of the native fruit infused within it. Based on a Czech pale ale, this beer is fresh and citrusy with a distinctly hoppy aroma and flavour.
Davidson Plum gluten free Ale is light, sour and aromatic. Earthy aromas of musk blend with a subtle sweetness giving this beer a refreshing mouthfeel and thirst quenching finish.
Pepperberry IPA is full flavoured and hoppy with an aromatic pop of native pepperberry and subtle spicy notes. Low carb and only 75 calories a serve.
A partly Mexican, partly Australian inspired craft beer that is bursting with natural flavour and zing native finger lime.