Clinton quit drinking seven years ago and now helps the world celebrate sober

Many First Nations entrepreneurs are struggling due to the impacts of COVID-19, but one non-alcohol beer business is bucking the trend and expanding sales worldwide.

Clinton Schultz

Clinton Schultz runs a non-alcohol brewing business. Source: Supplied/Clinton Schultz

Clinton Schultz has seen a lot of life in his 42 years.

After giving up alcohol himself, Clinton, who is a trained psychologist, is working to help others celebrate sober.

“When I was a young fellow, I experienced a lot of emotional and psychological and physical abuse, to be honest. And I didn't cope very well with that,” he says at his home on Queensland’s Gold Coast hinterland.

“And unfortunately for a very long time, I dealt with [my issues] through drug and alcohol abuse.”

The Gamilaraay man now draws on his life experience to help others, especially young Indigenous people, manage their issues.

Clinton Schultz as a teenager.
Source: Supplied Clinton Schultz

“This is my seventh year sober,” he says. “And I made that choice because I wanted my children to realise that you don't have to drink to socialise.”

Clinton has a PhD from Griffith University and has recently stepped away from academic work to focus on promoting healthy lifestyles through a range of non-alcohol craft beers that are infused with Indigenous ingredients. 

His aim – to get people off the "silly drink".

“It's impossible to get drunk from a non-alcohol product. There's actually more alcohol in an overripe banana,” he says.

The father of three is proud to be a positive role model and through his non-alcohol beer range, he aims to change ingrained attitudes.

“You don't have to drink [alcohol] to enjoy yourself. You don't have to drink to have fun,” he says.

And Clinton has big plans to take his appropriately-named business, Sobah, to the next level.

Clinton with his wife Lozen on their wedding day.
Source: Supplied Clinton Schultz

This month, Sobah generated more than $1 million in a capital raise from almost 600 investors. The funds will help expand a brewery at Burleigh Heads and increase output.

“Last year we sold 20,000 cartons of our main range alone, and we're intending to triple that,” he says.

“We will have capacity to produce 200,000 litres a year in the new facility. At the moment, we are limited to about 9,000,” he says.

Clinton is among many encouraged by rising sales of low and non-alcohol beverages during the pandemic.  

Not-for-profit organisation Drinkwise recently surveyed 3,000 Australians on their drinking habits. 

The results released this week revealed that 60 per cent of drinkers in the 18-24 age group aim to cut back on alcohol consumption. 

This is the group most likely to drink alcohol at risky levels. 

Those in the 18-44 age group were also twice as likely to want to consume zero and low alcohol products compared with those over the age of 45, Drinkwise CEO Simon Strahan said.

"Clinton is clearly a great role model in this space and has developed a lot of innovative products that can help consumers cut back on their alcohol consumption," he said.

"The low and no alcohol segment is growing rapidly, and predictions are it will continue to grow by 30 per cent annually.

However a stigma remains around low alcohol products, with 35 per cent of those aged 18-44 admitting they hide the fact at social events, he added. 

Overall alcohol consumption in Australia has declined in recent decades, with a 60 per cent drop since the mid-1970s.

Clinton quit drinking seven years ago and now helps the world celebrate sober

Clinton and Lozen's business is Aboriginal owned and run. They are among 450 small brewers producing three-and-a-half per cent of total beer sales in Australia.  

And their Sobah range is flavoured by Indigenous ingredients like finger lime and pepperberry.

“We wanted to give an everyday experience for Australians to try some of the wonders of their native produce,” he says.

The beers are brewed using a special yeast sourced from grape skins, to create the beer flavour without the alcohol.

“It actually doesn’t consume the maltose and it’s largely the consumption of maltose by yeast that produces the ethanol or the alcohol within beer. So, as our yeast isn’t consuming that maltose, we’re not getting the ethanol or the alcohol,” he says.

And it’s not just Australians enjoying the taste of this new brew.

Clinton is proud to have grown the business over four years.
Source: Supplied Clinton Schultz

“We are expanding overseas. We started exporting to New Zealand three months ago, and we're about to launch in both Hong Kong and Singapore.”

It’s a big step for this small Indigenous business, which Clinton started while running a food truck selling native inspired dishes like emu burgers and lemon myrtle iced tea.

“We are extremely proud of what we've been able to achieve in such a short time, and it has only been four years.”

However, Sobah’s success puts it in a minority among Indigenous businesses this year. 

Indigenous Business Australia is one of the federal government-funded bodies supporting Indigenous founders. It has backed 684 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses with $21million in capital assistance to the end of August 2021 through its COVID Relief Package.

October is Indigenous Business Month, and IBA Executive Director Government & Public Relations, Sean Armistead, says Indigenous tourism businesses in particular have struggled during the pandemic with a significant decline in revenue due to border closures.

Clinton Schultz with his children Bowen, Waylon and Maliyan.
Source: Supplied Clinton Schultz

Clinton and Lozen raise funds from many sources and expect to spend more than $5 million developing their Gold Coast brewery in the next year. 

“As Sobah grows, it is going to provide a whole bunch of opportunities, not just for local mob here, but for First Nations people around the country."

The majority of Sobah's seven employees identify as First Nations, he says. 

And Clinton hopes soon to collaborate with other like-minded entrepreneurs.

“We are in talks with other First Nations people about potentially acquiring some of our shares in Sobah so that we can inject that back into the business.

“The brewery will be set up as a training facility, to bring First Nations people into a culturally appropriate setting,” he says.

“I want to support young First Nations peoples here on the Gold Coast to learn more about their identity, the positive aspects of who they are to try and give them a solid grounding for their future.”

A list of organisations, websites and services that offer alcohol support, counselling and information can be found at health.gov.au


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Published 16 October 2021 at 6:59am
By Sandra Fulloon
Source: Small Business Secrets