There’s a certain devastation; a blocking of the spirit, a fog that overcomes you and blurs your vision, both literally and metaphorically when alcohol engulfs a person’s life.
Essentially a poison full of chemicals and sugar, when drunk sparingly, is considered ‘okay’, but when drunk excessively, as so many people from all walks of life do in this country, messes with your liver and gut health. More recently, science has now proven gut health will dramatically affect your mental health.
Sobah Beverages, an Aboriginal-run and owned company based in Queensland, producing specifically non-alcoholic craft beers, was born of one Aboriginal man’s vision of a thriving sober society.
Gamilaroi psychologist Clinton Schultz along with wife Lozen, designed, produced and eventually launched this brilliantly unique product in December 2017.
Unique in so much as Sobah is infused with native Australian ingredients including lemon aspen and finger lime within a preservative and chemical free non-alcoholic craft beer. This non-alcoholic ‘bush beer,’ provides an alternative when socialising in this truly alcohol obsessed nation.
“We are seeking to break down the culture of needing to drink alcohol in order to be social and have a good time,” Schultz says
“It’s time to address the issue of alcohol among all of us Australians.”
Not only is the product itself unique, but the name and design on the can boast a direct connection with Schultz’s First Nations roots as a Gamilaroi person of north-eastern NSW and also pays homage to the land where he, Lozen and their family reside; Yugambeh country of Gold Coast Queensland.
Clearly Sobah is a clever play on words as Sobah non-alcoholic craft beer will, of course, keep you sober, but it tastes just like alcoholic beer.
As the side of the can will tell you ‘bah’ means ‘place’ in Yugambeh language. The cans display a vibrant artwork by Gamilaroi artist Jason Passfield whose art is ‘Maliyan Dreaming;’ the wedgetail eagle and its songlines. The Gamilarray words ‘Badha Gali’ additionally adorn the can design and mean ‘bitter drink.’
Coming from a deep and unrelenting place of holistic and spiritual intentions Schultz, who gave up alcohol some years ago after his children asked him to ‘stop drinking the silly drink’, created Sobah Beverages from humble beginnings.
Initially, he and Lozen were selling Sobah out of another staunch initiative of Schultz’s — ‘Clinto’s Kupmurri;’ a food truck that’s ‘inspired by the health and medicinal benefits of Australian native bush tucker.’
After quitting alcohol Schultz, who admits he likes the taste of beer generally, was annoyed with the lack of non-alcoholic ‘adult’ drinks on the market, particularly for when socialising at BBQs and other events where beer is commonly drunk. He began with a home brewing kit and was able to brew a product with a beer taste as it’s essentially ‘beer without the alcohol.’
The Sobah cans declare the product has ‘less than 0.5 per cent’ alcohol content and Schultz explains that that label is a legality for brewed and fermented products.
“At the time of canning our brews have been coming in with as low as 0.1 per cent. There is always a little natural variance [with the brewing process].
“You’d be surprised to know that drinks below 0.5 per cent have lower alcohol content than many commonly eaten foods
“Often people are unaware of foods containing alcohol; pretty much anything that has a sugar content of any sort and is not completely sealed will contain (minute) elements of alcohol, unless it has been pumped with chemicals and preservatives,” Schultz said.
The sugar levels of Sobah beverages are also vitally low with Schultz telling NITV that his product has approximately less than a ¼ of the sugar than a can of soft drink or apple juice contains.
A Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation psychologist, Schultz says there are many people in recovery who are “just stoked to be able to enjoy a beer with their family and friends who report no concerns whatsoever [of relapse].”
“We feel our product is safe for those in recovery who feel it is safe for them,” Schultz says.
“However, I feel people have to be aware that [if you are a recovering alcoholic] these beverages may not be safe for you as some may feel that the taste of beer [albeit non-alcoholic] may be a trigger for them,” Schultz warns.
“For me, I love the taste of beer and always have. But I have no interest whatsoever in alcohol nor am I ever tempted to have a ‘normal’ beer after having a few Sobahs with the boys,” he said.
2019 is gearing up to be an exciting year for Sobah Beverages.
“We’ve got a plethora of ideas and other bush tucker we want to highlight in our products, but our main aim for this year is to get our current three brews well established in the [national] marketplace,” Schultz said.
The current Sobah brews are a Lemon Aspen pilsner, Finger Lime cerveza and a Pepperberry IPA.
“We’ve been supplying a fresh beer to date, which means it has to be kept cold and this has been an expensive undertaking with regards to cold chain distribution. There’s also been handling issues which has led to loss of stock.” Schultz said
“So, we’ve got stuck into research and development (engaging with scientists from Queensland University) to improve our products’ overall shelf stability.
“We’ll be releasing a fully dry shelf-stable product in the next couple of months. This will open up many avenues we’ve previously been unable to pursue such as exporting to remote regions of Australia,” Schultz told NITV.
Coming from holistic intentions Sobah Beverages goes from strength to strength in view of creating a strongly connected society. The ‘Sobah initiative’ pertains to a ‘big dream and driver’ for the company Schultz explains.
“I’ve always been frustrated with the disparity of care available in Australia between those with money and those without. I’m even more frustrated with the often monocentric approach taken in mental health and recovery work,” he said.
“They’ll be a lot more focus on spiritual healing and using lore and culture…and this will be not just for our mobs but for anyone who's interested in an alternative journey of healing, particularly for those who can’t afford the overly expensive ‘holistic’ retreats and clinics that are out there at present.”
Another initiative of the family-owned company is Sobah Fit. This campaign will be utilising amateur and professional athletes to promote healthy living.
“We are particularly targeting sports events and events that have a healthy connection to the outdoors and sustainable environment with a strong sense of community and good, clean — well, muddy at times — fun,” Schultz said.
“Non-alcoholic beer is great for sports recovery as it has a great balance of sodium, potassium, magnesium and good carbs. If you find that hard to believe check out research by Ben Desbrow at Griffith University or reports that were conducted around the German Winter Olympic team last year,” he said.
Sobah Beverages is also an inaugural supporter of the nation-wide Dry July campaign.
For more information about Sobah Beverages, go to their website.