Page 9 - Food & Drink Magazine Jan-Feb 21
P. 9

                 Sobah, so good
An Indigenous-owned non-alcoholic brewery on Queensland’s
Gold Coast is taking its craft and storytelling to new heights in 2021. Sobah co-founder Dr Clinton Schultz speaks with Doris Prodanovic.
PURPOSE, place, story and lore: these are the elements at the core of Sobah. Husband and wife team Dr Clinton and Lozen Schultz have adamantly infused these principles into the business since it launched as Australia’s first non-alcoholic craft beer in 2017, which has only worked in favour for the Indigenous-owned brewer.
When sitting with Clinton Schultz – a psychologist and academic by profession – at Sobah’s Gold Coast-based headquarters in Burleigh Heads, it doesn’t take long to see how important it is for him to share and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses and stories through Sobah.
“There’s nothing that really throws a lot of that stereotypical rubbish back in the face of, I guess, the majority population, more than being a strong, proud, Gamilaroi man running a non-alcoholic beer company, and everything being infused or brewed with our traditional foods,” says Schultz.
“We are able to show complexities of the flavours but also the health benefits that are in those foods.
“We’re trying to do a lot, but it’s led to something that I’d say is probably as uniquely Australian as you’re going to come across, and definitely so for the beverage industry.”
Native ingredients such as Davidson Plum, Wattleseed, Aniseed Myrtle, Boab and Pepperberry are delicately infused and sourced in individual Sobah varieties, whether as part of its core or seasonal ranges. Schultz told Food & Drink Business the team
tries to source ingredients from where they are naturally grown as much as possible.
“The ever-growing interest in native produce is making it a little bit more difficult to buy direct from community or from small-scale farms on natural country, because some of the larger players buy up such big quantities it has now become a wholesale market,” he says.
“It’s a tricky little space. We are really passionate about trying to ensure that the native produce space, as it grows, is run and maintained by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, as well as the knowledge and culture that goes with the produce.”
Schultz adds that there is often a clash in value structures, particularly from the big producers because Western systems see many things as being commodifiable. This has become easy to do in the native foods space, he says.
“There’s a lot of people who just see native foods as just a just a new fad ingredient.
“For us there’s a purpose behind it all, and that what we’re actually using goes beyond it just being an ingredient. That side of the of the industry is going to be Australia’s next big challenge in this production space.”
Despite being a non-alcoholic beer, Sobah is brewed the same way as any other beer. Its point of difference is the strain of yeast it uses, which ensures no ethanol is produced and the beer is alcohol-free.
It was the post production process, which was the
“expensive learning curve” of Sobah’s R&D.
“Since non-alcoholic products don’t have alcohol in them to preserve them, there are extra steps needed to ensure you have a product that is stable enough to be delivered to retailers and consumers,” says Schultz.
“We started off as a fresh farm-house ale and we were trying to do cold chain distribution, but for us, it was unreliable and too expensive, and therefore, not profitable.”
“Now, everything we produce is tunnel pasteurised, so the products come out one hundred per cent dry shelf stable after the pasteurisation process. As far as we are aware, we have one of the only small-scale tunnel pasteurisers in a brewery.”
“We had to do a few tweaks to the recipes to ensure we weren’t impacting on the profiles of the products, and that we were still getting the flavours we wanted at the end of pasteurising, and it has worked out well. Our products are better now than what they were when we first started, both in terms of flavour and stability.”
Sobah plans to rebrand its core range this year, with some of its new, limited batches already rolling out with fresh designs across cans and cartons.
Schultz says the new look will emulate the label design of the four special/seasonal beers released in 2020.
“They will be more individualised and related to the actual native ingredient and where it comes from, rather than generic branding.” | January/February 2021 | Food&Drink business | 9

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