Non-Alcoholic Beer Infused With Native Plants Hits The Market

You’d think a non-alcoholic beer in Far North Queensland would be about as popular as a brown snake in a lucky dip barrel.

But Clinton Schultz, the founder of Sobah Badha Gali beers, reckons he’s onto a winner.

On Thursday the company launched its line of premium craft beer in Cairns, which promises plenty of flavour without the hangover.

“I wanted for people who don’t drink for whatever reason to be able to go out to the same normal venues with their families or friends and be able to access adult tasting non-alcoholic drinks,” he said.

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Schultz is a proud descendant of the Gamilaroi Aboriginal tribe (the company’s name means Sober Bitter Drink in Gamilaraay) and works as a drug and alcohol counsellor with indigenous communities.

A major driving force behind his business is the damage he’s seen alcohol do.

Not just to his clients, either.

“It’s quite well documented that I had a chequered past with alcohol and drugs," Schultz said.

“One of the things I can’t stand is hypocrites. I didn’t want to be going out and telling other people about the dangers of an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, and be continuing one myself."

Image: 10 News First

Another factor was simply seeing a gap in the market.

Schultz gave up drinking in 2014 when his kids asked him to “stop drinking silly drink”, and quickly discovered there’s not much on offer at the pub for non-drinkers.

He also discovered that if you’ve got a can of what looks, smells and tastes like beer, you’re less likely to cop it for not drinking.

The beers are also a way of harnessing the flavours of native plants.

“I spent a lot of my time yarning with old people about the health and wellbeing benefits off all this stuff that you can see out here (on a nearby hill).

“Eighty percent of it is probably edible or medicinal, but people would just see it as this lush, green hill.”

As it turns out, booze-free booze is a growing market, worth around $18 billion a year globally.

Even in Australia, we’re necking more than $600 million a year worth of low and mid-strength beer.

Schultz started selling Sobah out of a food truck on the Gold Coast in December 2017 but is now shipping around 200 cartons a month.

In a further nod to Schultz’s Aboriginal heritage, the beers are flavoured with what the company calls ‘bush tucker’ ingredients.

There’s the Lemon Aspen Pilsener, which is based on the fruit native to north Queensland.

The Finger Lime Cerveza uses a shrub commonly found on the coast at the NSW-QLD border.

And the Pepperberry IPA comes from a tree which grows in cooler climates and is apparently everywhere in Tasmania.

There’s a list of places that stock Sobah on the company’s website if you’re keen to check it out.