Sobriety Is Trending. This Is How Businesses Are Catching On | WSJ

Sobriety Is Trending. This Is How Businesses Are Catching On | WSJ


(upbeat music)
– [Narrator] You probably didn’t notice,
non-alcoholic drinks are looking
a lot more boozy recently.
– Cheers.
– Cheers.
– [Narrator] And they taste.
– Tastes like an IPA.
– It’s exactly what we’re going for.
– [Narrator] That’s
because boozeless drinks,
aren’t just for people who are sober.
– I think a pretty high percentage
of our customers are drinkers.
I’d guess about 75%
and I think that’s where the
real growth of the category is.
– [Narrator] These drinks
are also for people who,
often for reasons aside from addiction,
want to take a break from alcohol.
– Like you might feel
differently in the summer
than you do in the winter.
On a Saturday than you do on a Tuesday.
– Dry January for example.
– There we go, you know?
And that’s all okay.
– [Narrator] This group
even has a hashtagable name:
Sober Curious.
Statistics show younger
people want to drink less.
And according to a 2018 World
Health Organization report,
the percentage of drinkers has decreased
almost 5% worldwide since 2000.
What’s new are the businesses
looking to capture this
sober curious market.
And that’s what we went
to learn more about.
– Here in Downtown Manhattan,
there’s a bar on just about every corner
and the streets in-between.
But tonight there’s a new kind of bar,
one that’s open only once a month.
It’s call Listen Bar and
it’s all non-alcoholic.
(soft music)
Listen Bar founder Lorelei Bandrovschi
first tested the concept in 2018.
Now she’s raising money to
make it a permanent space.
But it all started from a dare.
– Five years ago, one of my friends
dared me to take a month off of drinking.
Gradually it became my
preferred way to go out.
– [Narrator] But she says,
this can be an isolating experience.
Listen Bar is her answer to that.
And one that others are ready to pay for.
The night I went, the bar was packed.
– So far the narrative
around not drinking,
has been kind of this
punishment, restriction.
And right now, I think
people are finding a lot
of empowerment in it.
– [Narrator] They’re finding
new options on the menu too.
Like beers from Athletic Brewing,
the first non-alcoholic brewery
and taproom in the country.
Bill Shufelt and co-founder John Walker,
opened this space eight months ago.
But it started with Shufelt
reexamining his relationship to alcohol.
– I had a great job in
finance as my previous life.
I was just turning 30 years
old, I was getting healthier
and alcohol didn’t really fit
in any element of my life.
– [Narrator] So he cut back
and eventually left alcohol
behind, but not the bar.
– I started to think, why can’t there be
a good non-alcoholic craft beer.
– [Narrator] That lead him
here, where he and Walker
began testing recipes in these water jugs.
– What was the first brew like?
Do you remember what it tasted like?
– For sure, and I had a much
lower bar of acceptance.
It took about 30 batches
until John was like:
“Okay we’re looking at
real craft beer here.”
– [Narrator] Now their beer lineup
is what you might expect
from a typical craft brewery.
– Walking around, we’ve
got a tank of IPA here.
That’s 40 barrels of IPA.
This is our Cerveza
Atletica, our Mexican Lager.
It’s our summer seasonal.
And then we have a big batch
of golden ale in this tank here.
– [Narrator] And he says
they’re canning anywhere
from 500 to 1000 cases of beer a day.
Athletic distributes to
bars and grocery stores,
including Whole Foods, and sells online.
– What is your growth been
like since you started
serving beer to people,
shipping beer to people.
– We thought we had built
the brewery for five years,
we just doubled our
footprint and tank space
about a month ago and
we’re already behind.
Would you like to try a beer?
– [Narrator] The interest
in Athelic’s beers
hasn’t surprised Shufelt though.
He says he’ll often tell
people: “just try a sip”.
– Do people have the reaction I had
where they’re a little surprised
to taste it for the first time?
– For sure, people are
definitely super skeptical
and immediately after they taste it
you see the light bulb go on.
(soft music)
– [Narrator] Richie Crowley was interested
before his first taste.
He’s an athlete currently
biking his way across the US.
Athelic was one of his first stops.
&- As someone who’s sober,
it was really exciting
when I was like, there’s
a non-alcoholic brewery.
– And why did you decide to go sober?
– (sighs) There’s like a lot
of different reasons from
health to just social, then like
the physical health, mental health
but I didn’t want to compromise my dreams,
compromise my goals anymore.
– How does this beer taste compared to
– Dude, it’s (laughing)
– beer that you’ve had
before you went sober.
– Man, you can’t taste the difference.
– [Narrator] But outside
of the beer world,
feeling is as important as taste.
At least for Kin, a company
that makes euphorics.
Essentially, non-alcoholic
spirits with a wellness twist.
I met Jen Batchelor, the company’s founder
at Kin’s office in Brooklyn.
– Just before we even
start making the drink
can you just tell me, what are euphorics?
– Yes, in its simplest form euphorics are
a new category of adult beverage
that’s intended to bring more
connective moments at the bar
and they’re made of nootropics,
adaptogenic herbs, and
functional botanics.
– [Narrator] This
combination of ingredients
was crafted to make you feel something,
not drunk of course.
Batchelor described it
as a feeling of lightness
but still a sense of presence.
– What is it meant to taste like?
Is it meant to, am I taking my vitamins?
Or am I drinking a cocktail?
– No, it’s meant to taste like a spirit
that you might have out
at your favorite bar.
– [Narrator] The company launched
its first euphoric last
year, called High Road.
It’s similar to a spirit and
she says it’s selling well.
– So this is like essentially me drinking
a shot of vodka or a shot of
– Yes, straight.
– All right, so let’s give it a shot.
– Cheers.
– Cheers.
– Yeah
– It does have that bitterness
that feels very much like Aperol,
that makes me feel like I’m
drinking an adult beverage.
– Yes.
– [Narrator] While my Kin
experience didn’t leave me
feeling different physically or mentally,
the cocktail Batchelor made me was mature,
like something you do
expect on a bar menu.
And it is, in New York and LA.
For Kin and Athelic is
about giving people drinks
that can help break the stigma around
choosing a non-alcoholic
option at the bar.
– I think there’s still quite
a bit of that resentment
of somebody saying, I’m
not drinking tonight,
and they’re like “oh, why man?”.
That stigma will still persist
until we’re all comfortable
and we all feel like
there is an elevated
option to replace that.
– [ Narrator] Listen Bar’s founder,
who still drinks on occasion,
said her thinking has totally changed.
– I started out as a skeptic and here I am
running a business now that is centered
around the thing that,
initially, I rejected.
– Is it a trend?
– Yes, it is a trend and
it’s bigger than a trend.
This is something that people
have been hungering for
for a long time and finally
there’s something to point to.
You know, there’s a phrase,
there is some places.
– [Narrator] To be fair,
sobriety existed before sober curiosity
and all three founders
said their offerings
are made for those people too.
Though they recognize drinks like these
can be triggering for some.
So, it’s really up to the person.
– It’s a spectrum of sobriety, you know?
And I think that here is very much still
traditional sobriety as part of it.
The point is not that, you know,
now it’s trendy to be sober.
The point is that now
more people are aware
that there is a spectrum.

53 thoughts on “Sobriety Is Trending. This Is How Businesses Are Catching On | WSJ”

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  2. Won’t last cheap niche fad with only a small selective market. Half the point of drinking is to get buzzed and or drunk and unwind. To quote friends you just took the ‘Essence’

  3. Drinking has declined because of the increase of people either addicted to drugs or put on new prescriptions where they can’t drink, or people have just switched to cannabis that is now legal in most places; gives you better effects and no hangover…. the alcohol company’s should be going after the pharmacy company’s 😂😂😂

  4. I don't drink and I don't get this concept. If you don't want to drink alcohol because you want to be healthy, why don't you just drink water? What's the point of drinking something that tastes like beer/alcohol? I've had both beer and liquor and they don't taste particular good alone.

  5. So waste money and calories on drinks that do nothing? Part of the benefit of deciding to abstain from alcohol for a day/week/month is the calories and cash saved. Seems to be an example of mindless consumerism.

  6. So glad to hear that. It means drinking: Brunello, Amarone, Bordeaux, or Burgundy wines won't suffer from excess demand increasing prices.

  7. But the whole point is the moment that first beer hits your lips..I've had a zero alcohol beer and it's not the same.

  8. Alcohol is massively overrated as a drug, but straight-edge hipster nonsense is the worst 🤦‍♂️🤣 Live a little, explore not only the outside world but also your mind.

  9. I think there's too much money supply. NY is an incubator of stupidity, and the place where masses follow whatever they see on Instagram and similar brain washing platforms… The world needs a reset. WWIII

  10. People be like: “Oh, it’s mindless consumerism and stupidity” and “Why not just refrain from drinking beer and drink water?”

    There are already tons of non alcoholic beverages that are essentially empty calories. The world won’t end because there’s a non alcoholic mango spirit that is empty calories. Let people drink whatever they want.

  11. Let's play Millennial Cliche Buzzwords. How many can you catch? Gotta catch em all!
    Empowered, Connected, Narrative, safe space?

  12. beer and wine is actually good for the body, you don't need detox, it acts as a detox…that and lemonade and water…..if you go out in the wilderness, what is the first thing you use when you feel cold you use alcohol instant warmer over piling on clothes LOL

  13. These things would sell fast in Muslims countries, that's almost 2 billion market size. No wonder even brewery brands like Carlsberg introducing 0 alcohol products.

  14. I like the idea. I don't drink alcohol because I don't enjoy how it makes me feel. However I do like the taste of alcohol drinks (I know it's strange). So being able to buy products like that works for me.

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