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Saturday 2 April 2022

Meet a range of beers with a powerful message

Sobah, a non-alcoholic craft brewery on the Gold Coast, hopes it can teach Australians there are different ways of drinking.

Sobah is the extension of creator Clinton Schultz’s personal journey and he says he's aiming to prove it is possible for a non-alcoholic beer to offer a real alternative for beer drinkers when they’re out with mates.

As someone who who has never found a low- or no-alcohol beer that really satisfies, I am sceptical but willing to be convinced.

Schulz says that by infusing the beer with Australian bush tucker, it also offers a flavourful education in Australian indigenous foods and culture.

The native foods and flavours range from the zing of lemon aspen and finger limes to boab, and spicy pepperberry.

Schultz and his wife Lozen brought the product to market in 2017, just ahead of the rise of the global "better-for-you" drinking trend.

From its Gold Coast base, Sobah has grown to the point it is sold in bars, restaurants, cafes and around 900 retailers across Australia.

In an equity crowdfunding campaign last October, Sobah raised $1 million in nine days for 9% of the company. A total of 586 investors now have a share of the company with a valuation of over $11 million.

Schultz says Sobah is building Australia’s first non-alcoholic craft brewery on Gold Coast in 
Kombumerri country, a part of the Yugambeh language regions.

“We were the first non-alcoholic craft beer company in Australia; I think we were the first non-alcoholic adult beverage produced in Australia,” Schultz said.

“There was no acceptance for non-alcoholic beverages when we started, it was a lot of work.

“There were a couple of ‘non-alc’ spirit business that started up around the same time or just after we did, and collectively we had to do a lot of re-education with the Australian public about accepting non-alc and that non-alc was just as good, if not better, than their alcoholic cousins.

“We’re really stoked that we’ve literally played a significant part in shifting the Australian drink culture in four years.”

Schultz said Sobah emerged from his own experience, which included quitting drinking.

“I stopped drinking seven years ago,” he said.

“After I’d had a big night drinking I was lying on the bed hungover and my boy rattled his little finger in my face and he just went, ‘Dad, can you stop drinking silly drink.’ That was the last time I touched alcohol.”

It led, however, to frustration with alternative options available on the market.

“I quickly realised when I stopped drinking that when you’re an adult and you’re choosing not to drink, there’s not many choices out there," Schultz said.

“I got frustrated that there were no decent options for people who were choosing not to drink for whatever reason at the time, so I started making non-alcohol beer for myself.”

A Gamilaraay man who grew up on the Gold Coast, Schultz said the company tries to highlight where the native ingredients used in the beer were originally from, the language groups that they were associated with and tried to lead people to want to learn more about those areas and the First Nations people of those areas.

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