What is Club Soda?

Club Soda is the Mindful Drinking Movement™ of over 30,000 people. We welcome everyone who wants to change their relationship drinking, whether to cut down, stop for a bit or quit, those who have already made a change and want to stick to their goals. Oh, and you’re welcome to join even if you’ve never had a drop of alcohol in your life!

What does Club Soda do?

An essential part of our work is supporting people who want to change their drinking. We do this in lots of different ways including

  • providing advice and information
  • signposting and recommending experts
  • delivering short email courses
  • helping people set and stick to goals
  • running real-world social events
  • and encouraging people to support each other through our Facebook groups.

But we also want to make the world a better place for people who aren’t drinking alcohol, as well as people who are. So we promote choice in the low and no alcohol drinks market through our Mindful Drinking Festivals and other events. And we work with pubs, bars and the hospitality industry to improve their offer to people who are not drinking alcohol through the Club Soda Guide.

How can I join Club Soda?

Anyone can join Club Soda for free. The easiest way is to sign up to our email newsletter (hit the subscribe button at the top or bottom of this page) or join our main Facebook group. We’ve also got groups on Facebook for Club Soda members who are alcohol-free, mindful drinkers, under-30s and more. Take a look around, and find a place you’re happy and comfortable.

Later this year we’re launching a paid membership programme, giving Club Soda members access to private discussion groups, discounts on courses and resources, behind the scenes access and even a real say in how Club Soda is run. But we would hate for money to be a barrier for anyone who wants to change their drinking, so lots of what we provide is free, and always will be.

How is Club Soda funded?

We do this because we love it, but we have bills to pay and mouths to feed like everyone else.

Some of our core funding comes from Club Soda members, who buy courses, come to events and give us occasional and ongoing donations. We’re introducing a paid membership option later this year, which will help us do more for everyone.

Our festival, guide and some of our other projects are sponsored and supported by different drinks companies. But we are clear that supporting us as the Mindful Drinking Movement™ doesn’t give them a say in how we work or what we do. Our independence is important to us.

We also get funding from grant-making trusts and others, and we do work with local authorities.

What is Mindful Drinking?

Mindful drinking is about becoming more aware of how your body and mind are affected by alcohol, and how you use alcohol to relate to the people around you. Mindful drinkers notice, learn and ultimately take control of their drinking.

So what does mindful drinking look like? Many mindful drinkers moderating their drinking habits. For example, some mindful drinkers choose lower alcohol drinks, or drink fewer drinks each day, or stop drinking on weekdays, or do a longer sober sprint. And some people go completely alcohol-free.

Remember: even in our alcohol-centric society, drinking alcohol is never compulsory. Ever.

Mindful drinking is all about deciding what is right for you, today, at this moment. You are never powerless. You are always in control.

Is 0.5% beer alcohol-free?

Club Soda considers drinks 0.5% and below to be alcohol-free.

No alcohol license is needed to sell them in the UK, and 0.5% means a small amount of alcohol only. The truth is that anything that goes through a natural fermentation process has a trace of alcohol. And many foods and drinks do, including vinegar, bananas, bread, fruit juices and even lemonade.

Labelling on this is inconsistent. Some products have to state their alcohol content (abv), while others don’t. Some drinks can be called alcohol-free, while very similar drinks can’t.

You can buy a soft drink, like alcohol-free ginger beer and some kombuchas, that are up 0.5% but don’t need to say so, as they are in the soft drink category. Sprite is 0.05%. Desserts and foodstuffs don’t need an abv even though many will contain over 0.5% alcohol.

A 0.5% beer from elsewhere in the world can be called alcohol-free in the UK, if it is deemed so in their home country, but a beer produced here cannot.

The bottom line is you would have to drink huge amounts of these drinks to feel the effects of the alcohol. And some research suggests you physically cannot become intoxicated by drinking 0.5% alcohol drinks, making them suitable even for people who avoid alcohol for religious reasons.

Can alcohol-free drinks help me?

We know alcohol-free drinks can be really helpful in reducing your drinking and going alcohol-free. But it is an individual choice.

Alcohol-free drinks are generally lower in calories and sugar-free, so if you are looking to lose weight or sugar triggers you to drink alcohol, this can actually be a good alternative to coke and lemonade and other fizzy drinks.

So why do some alcohol services say you should stay away from alcohol-free beers and wines?
It is important to know why this advice is given. It is not because of the abv, or you would have to avoid soy sauce, vinegar, orange juice, bananas and even your own stomach! It’s because a drink that tastes like an alcoholic drink could trigger you to drink the real thing.

Only you can tell if an alcohol-free drink triggers you. Some people decide to avoid non-alcoholic beers and wines, and that’s fine by us. We think choice is good for everyone, but ultimately, it’s up to you.

Are there any books about alcohol you can recommend?

Blimey, there are loads. We know from talking to our members that reading quit lit can really help. You can find the books we recommend in our shop. We get a steady trickle of income from Amazon from these sales, so do take a look!

Oh, and our own book – How to Be a Mindful Drinker – is coming out at the end of this year. Pre-order it on Amazon today.