Melbourne bar selling soft drinks opens as new data shows demand doubles


Sales of beer, wine and non-alcoholic spirits at major alcohol retailers have doubled in the past 12 months, according to new sales data.

Data from Endeavor Group, the company that manages BWS and Dan Murphy’s, shows a 100 percent increase in sales in the industry over the past year.

In response to growing demand, a new bar in Melbourne specializing in non-alcoholic drinks has just opened.

Of the nearly 100 drinks on Brunswick Aces’ menu, only one contains alcohol.

Bar co-founder Stephen Lawrence hopes consumers won’t be able to tell the difference between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

“The beers and wines were produced in a very similar way to their alcoholic cousins,” he said.

Speaking at the launch, the entrepreneur said he believes bars are as much about socializing as they are about drinking alcohol.

“Most of the people I know who go out and drink are sociable, and you can do all of that and more here,” he said.

Alcohol-free brewer can’t keep up with demand

Producers of soft drinks say they cannot keep up with the increased demand for their products.

Andy Miller’s business is changing rapidly to capitalize on the trend.(

ABC News: Billy Draper

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Andy Miller is the co-founder of a non-alcoholic beer company and says the company is growing rapidly to capitalize on the new trend.

“We’ve doubled production almost every month, so about every two months we’re increasing production, and we’re still selling all of that stock just because of consumer demand,” he said.

Mr. Miller’s non-alcoholic beer costs about $ 65 per box of 24 beers.

He says the price reflects the fact that he has to buy more expensive ingredients to counter the fact that there is no alcohol in beer.

“The alcohol has a lot of flavor so we have to really work hard to balance the recipe,” he said.

“This is part of the reason the cost is still not as cheap as some people would like.”

Three bottles of spirits on a table in a store.
Retailers have noticed a shift in consumers towards premium products.(

ABC News: Zalika Rizmal

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Mr. Miller and his business partners are part of a small but growing community of non-alcoholic beer craft brewers trying to change the way consumers view non-alcoholic beverages.

“Our end goal is really to have a positive impact on Australian drinking culture,” he said.

“It’s just about having another option that you can choose from whatever your lifestyle.”

Gabriella Rush, a young woman with orange hair, smiles happily in front of a wine display.
Wine merchant Gabriella Rush says non-alcoholic products take up more shelf space.(

ABC News: Zalika Rizmal

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Dan Murphy’s wine merchant Gabriella Rush said while the bulk of sales were still in alcoholic beverages, demand for non-alcoholic products was skyrocketing.

“It’s an enthusiasm for beers, spirits and wine… but there is an intention to look at quality rather than quantity,” Ms. Rush said, noting a trend towards local and artisanal products.

“Many are looking for artisanal and more bespoke products. We have seen that people like to support locals and make smaller purchases.”

To meet growing demand, the retailer had to redesign its stores to create more shelf space for their alcohol-free offerings.

“We had to dramatically reformat the store,” Ms. Rush said.

“There are a lot of berries that we had to devote to non-alcoholic options.”

Ex-drinkers a growing movement

Author and journalist Jill Stark quit drinking almost two years ago and had documented her journey with alcohol in the book High Sobriety.

She believes the non-alcoholic trend shows Australia is catching up with the rest of the world.

“In bars in Europe for many, many years you can get alcohol-free draft beer. It’s just standard, ”Stark said.

“The European drinking culture is different from Australia where we drink to get drunk, while drinking there is rather fortuitous.”

A woman standing in front of a mirror holding a soft drink.
Jill Stark is part of a growing cohort of “ex-drinkers”.(

ABC News: Zalika Rizmal

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Stark said when she quit drinking she was accused of being un-Australian, untrustworthy and boring.

“This very big culture of drinking, where we use alcohol to celebrate, to empathize, to commemorate and everything in between. When you choose to retire, it can be quite alienating,” he said. she declared.

“This is the last kind of stigma we need to break down that people who don’t drink are boring or can’t have fun.”

The writer said the boom in non-alcoholic options and bars like Brunswick Aces allowed him to participate in the social aspects of drinking, without the negative side effects.

“And I can do it with non-alcoholic champagne, or I can have a cold beer on a hot day.”

She is part of a growing cohort of people in the community that the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare calls “ex-drinkers.”

In the eyes of the federal government health agency, a former drinker is someone who has not had a drop of alcohol in the past 12 months.

Between the years 2016 and 2019, the proportion of former drinkers increased from 7.6% in 2016 to 8.9% in 2019.

Stark said the pandemic has led many people to reconsider their relationship with alcohol.

“We’re going to see more of it as people become more health conscious and realize that alcohol is probably not the best friend or the best therapist when you’re going through tough times.

For Stark, her break up with alcohol is not a decision she regrets.

“I feel like I’m a much better version of myself when I’m not drinking. I’m happier, I’m calmer,” she said.


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