MEET THE PRODUCER: CLINTON & LOZEN FROM SOBAH
So Clinton and Lozen, what’s the story behind Sobah and how did you start your journey?
Sobah was conceived by Clinton shortly after he went sober in 2014. He was working in D&A rehabs providing counselling mostly for men in transition from jail to parole. Since finding a healthier alternative to a negative coping mechanism is often a way of recovering from D&A, Clinton went on a quest to find decent non-alcoholic beers but to no avail. He discovered that the market lacked variety and nothing was made locally here in Australia.
In early 2017, we bit the bullet and approached a local brewer for help trialling our recipes to create a non-alcoholic craft beer made with native bush tucker to generate unique flavour profiles. We were after beers we could team with the native inspired menu of our food truck (which we have since sold to focus primarily on Sobah).
Sobah is a play on words and connects to our Aboriginal heritage, with the suffix ‘bah’ translating to 'a place' in many east-coast languages. Therefore, Sobah comes from a place of sobriety where the truly social drink can be enjoyed.
What values are important to you and your business?
We aim to instill values that are simply about all of us being good humans. We strive to show initiative, encourage change and growth with continuous improvement, as well as demonstrate honesty, integrity and transparency. Being Gamilaraay and a psychologist, Clinton has founded principles based from traditional ways of being and knowing.
Sobah functions from three key philosophies of Gamilaraay Lore ‘dhiriya Gamil’:
- acting from a position of respecting people, place and the environment;
- understanding and working towards fulfilling responsibilities to that we are connected to; and,
- engaging in positive reciprocity.
Whilst we’re hard workers, we truly believe that we have been privileged in our opportunities and have a responsibility to give back, to share our knowledge and experience, to create opportunities for others, to encourage sustainable and healthy ways of living, and to assist in bringing about positive changes.
Who’s involved in the process - from produce to final product?
We work directly with local growers and businesses to produce our range of brews. The fruit is sourced from its traditional growing region(s) and we aim to buy locally when and where possible.
We're contract brewers, meaning we don't (yet!) have our own brewery, so we work with others to manufacture our products. We brew pilot beers and small batches with Pickled Pig Brewery at Tweed Heads and offset the larger scale brewing for our core range at a larger brewery in Goulburn.
Our aim for our brews is to have as little intervention as possible, to keep the ingredient list short and to remain free from chemicals and preservatives. All of our brews are also vegan friendly. We work with a food safety consultant to ensure the highest quality, and also to verify that everyone in our chain is supplying us with ingredients that maintain our brand and product integrity.
What’s the ‘why’ behind Sobah?
Put simply, we were born from a desire to provide a better choice for those who are not drinking for whatever reason at whatever time. The aim has always been to see this freedom of choice available across all sorts of venues, especially licensed premises. Those who choose not to drink should not be shunned or expected to drink water or soft drink when out socialising with friends. And that’s where Sobah comes in.
As you know, we’re lovers of great design. What is the story behind your brand/product design?
There are heaps of layers to the design concept for our can’s artwork. From the eagle and the fruit motifs, to the ‘O’ represented by a seed. The Australian Wedge-tailed Eagle is our Gamilaroi totem, Maliyan, and represents our eldest son who shares its name.
When Maliyan was 6, he asked Clinton to "stop drinking silly drink", and so Clinton listened and stopped drinking booze. Sobah would never have been conceived if it wasn't for our son making this request and Clinton making the decision to stop drinking. Clinton's brother is a graphic and product designer who runs his own studio, Relative Creative. He's responsible for bringing these concepts to life on our cans.
At Pretty Green, we’re all about small batch, sustainable and most importantly, yummy food. What does small batch mean to you?
We love small batch brewing. We go by words such as 'artisan' and 'hand-crafted', and in that, there seems to be a richer fresher flavour. With local ingredients, we can tweak the flavour from batch to batch as we continually improve our products. It also means we can change seasonally, source sustainable ingredients from smaller growers and businesses, and support local.
What is your personal favourite product in your range and why?
While we love all our brews (almost) equally, our hero is our first beer Lemon Aspen Pilsner, the first brew we created. Its character is so refreshing, you can enjoy it anywhere any time, and it's easy to throw down fast on a hot day.
How would you describe the flavours of your products?
Lemon Aspen Pilsner is lemony, with the sweetness of honey, hints of lychee and a citrusy hop aroma. It's refreshingly light.
Finger Lime Cerveza is a Mexican style pale ale with a touch of tang from the zingy, zestiness of our native finger limes. It's a slammable Summer brew.
Pepperberry IPA (India Pale Ale) is our homage to the craft industry. Spicy hops are teamed with native pepperberries for this bold brew.
You’re based in Burleigh Heads, what’s the best thing about living and working there?
We live semi-rural, only 10 mins from Burleigh Heads where we have set up our HQ. The beaches and surf, the local vibe, the active lifestyle, access to bushlands and creeks, great places for food and coffee - there’s no ‘best’ part about living and working here, it’s all amazing. Shame the secret is out!