South-East Queensland is brimming with small businesses paving the way in their industries and in sustainable business practice. One of these businesses is Australia’s first First Nations owned and led beer company, Sobah. We chatted to the team at Sobah to discuss how “doing well by doing good” is embedded into the business’s way of working and sustainability ethos.

Four years ago husband and wife team, Clinton and Lozen Schultz, started Sobah: Australia’s first non-alcoholic craft beer company.

“As a Gamilaroi man, psychologist, trained chef and experienced homebrewer, Clinton created a range of native foods infused non-alcoholic craft beers that promote healthy lifestyles and socialising sober and champion First Nations culture, health and wellness.”

Sustainable beer non-alcoholic Sobah

Clinton draws on his life experience and practice as a psychologist to help young First Nations people lead happier, healthier lives.

Clinton and Lozen’s aim is for Sobah to be a successful First Nations business drawing on an ethical and sustainable approach they call simply doing well by doing good.” This approach is working for the business so far; “Clinton and Lozen have helped build Australia’s fast-growing non-alcoholic craft beer market, securing nearly 1000 stockists and nationwide deals with Coles, Dan Murphys, and ACCOR hotels and retailers in New Zealand.

So Sobah are pioneering non-alcoholic craft beer in Australia, but are they doing it sustainably?

As a First Nations owned and led business respect and care for country and the natural world are part of Sobah’s DNA… The company is working on a plan to go zero carbon by 2030.” As part of this plan, “Sobah uses natural ingredients and native foods to infuse its non-alcoholic craft beers, it doesn’t use plastic in any of its packaging and it seeks to minimise energy, water and waste in the brewing process and in its operations.

But as the team at Sobah know all too well, brewing is a natural resource-intensive business, and their journey to net-zero won’t be easy.

Brewing… uses a lot of energy (often natural gas as well as electricity for heating and cooling) and a lot of water. It also creates a lot of waste. Then there’s the packaging.” The team notes that, “Sobah uses contract breweries to brew its products so it has to work closely with them to make sure their operations are sustainable and while it has some influence over this, it’s limited.

Sustainable non-alcoholic beer Sobah

Sobah’s non-alcoholic Lemon Aspen Pilsner

That’s why the company’s journey to net zero is “a work in progress, that will start with a new brewery, which will open in late 2022.” Owning and operating their own brewery will give Sobah freedom to design their business operations to be as sustainable as possible.

But that’s not all for Sobah. They want to influence the whole industry to operate in a more environmentally conscious way.

Sobah aims to be a champion for doing business sustainably and to showcase how to do it so that others will follow. As it develops it’s zero carbon plan and integrates that into its new brewery and operations, it will share how to do it and how it works, seeking to be a catalyst for more sustainability action in the industry.

Sobah is a lot of things; they are an epic Queensland business, Australia’s first First Nations owned and led beer company, Australia’s first non-alcoholic craft beer company, and now we can’t wait to watch as they become leaders in sustainable brewing and business practice.

Cheers to that!