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Storm Callum had left Glasgow’s streets drowning in sorrow, yet inside The Briggait there was no lack of sober cheer.
Mindful drinking movement Club Soda brought its alcohol-free drinks festival to a city renowned for boozy lifestyles, but also one where vegan and wellbeing businesses thrive.
Founded three years ago, Club Soda has made massive strides with its message about nobody feeling socially awkward if they’re not drinking, offering alcohol-free beers, kombucha, and other beverages instead.
A broad spectrum
The Herald Scotland rather missed the point by claiming this event was aimed at ‘heavy-drinking over 50s’. In reality, a broad spectrum of the curious and the converted came along, from all age groups and social backgrounds.
Besides numerous stall holders there were DJs, live music acts, discussion panels and a cocktail competition.
Not quite all the businesses promoted vegan products, but a large percentage did. What’s more, many were proud to point out their use of natural ingredients, responsibly sourced. You also got eagerly bombarded with facts from various producers.
Who knew there’s more tea drunk in the world than all the alcoholic and soft drinks combined? Ever wondered why the best kombucha drinks have a nice cidery tang? Kelsey from Clever Kombucha says that when black tea ferments in oak barrels, it produces clear apple-y notes. Based in Glasgow, she uses Bulgarian oak casks and organic Assam tea to create stylish tongue-tinglers.
Now onto more event tastings, with some other vegan highlights. Summerhouse Drinks from Aberdeen offered a tart and zingy raspberry lemonade made with Scottish soft fruit. Based on actual lemon juice, not concentrate, Summerhouse’s full selection is thus naturally ‘cloudy’.
Left Field Kombucha told us their softly peaty Yunnan Black is now available in two Scottish beer bars on draught. It’s sparkling, beguiling and good for your tummy.
Based in north London, the intriguing Shrb company takes inspiration from the Prohibition era. They explained how ‘shrub’ was originally made using the vinegars of preserved fruits and herbs. But there’s nothing prim or puritanical about Shrb’s brand, with its inspired range hinting at anything from saison beers to absinthe. Funky fruity brews for a modern crowd.
The Temperance Spirit Company presented adult soft drinks with all the verve of real cocktails. A sweetly gluggable Cuba Libre showed burnt caramel hints and a warm ruby colour.
Finally, those good folks at Borrago spoke with almost mystical fervour about their no-alc spirits. Tasted neat they have a wild floral bitterness that thrills even further with mixers.
The cardamom is sourced from India, where apparently a sense of terroir is crucial. Borrago is also committed to preserving bee habitats, giving away 80,000 borage (the ‘bee flower’) seeds.
Heading back outdoors the skies looked gloomy, but Laura Willoughby, campaigner and co-founder of Club Soda, had some bright news: she confirmed another Mindful Drinking showcase on January 19, 2019, at Rich Mix community arts hub in Shoreditch, London.