Steve D Sailopal first started brewing alcohol-free beers commercially back in 2016, but things have changed between then and launching Good Karma Beer Co.
“When I first started doing early trial batches with breweries, friends of mine in the industry, they were all saying “Steve, have you bumped your head mate? Who’s going to want alcohol-free beer?””
“It had such a bad perception.”
Now though, alcohol-free beer is more popular than ever.
Having left his first brewery in October 2018, Sailopal decided over lockdown that he wanted to return to the alcohol-free beer game. He was now feeling well enough, both mentally and physically, to get back into an industry where he was one of the original trailblazers.
“I won’t lie, it really hurt me deep down having to step away from a brand I had created,” explains Sailopal. “I wasn’t really going to get back into it again. But during lockdown I received an unexpected call that made me think: we can take this to another level.”
The result is Good Karma Beer Co, a brand that Sailopal describes as being all the things he “didn’t get to do” previously.
Inspired by the Ayurveda principles he discovered whilst recovering in Goa, Good Karma is a brand that sees itself as being consciously and holistically involved in mindful drinking.
“Mindfulness has become a word that is thrown around a lot these days, but a lot of people don’t seem to understand what it means.”
“I think mindfulness is about your actions, about what you do, and about how your actions affect someone else’s life.”
“As a brand owner, we’re storytellers to the public. I felt with Good Karma, we could in our branding, our labels, send out messages about current issues that are affecting us all at the moment.”
“And also, be fun!” Sailopal adds. “Send out some positive energy out there. If you send out something positive, it will come back. That’s really how you could say Good Karma was born.”
Key for Sailopal is that Good Karma Beer Co supports its non-drinking consumers.
“A lot of people that are not drinking have gone through some bad journeys. You don’t want to create a brand that makes them think, you know what I’ve been drinking this alcohol-free beer, I should be able to drink a normal one without it affecting me.”
“We’ve got to be really careful as a brand owner of how we actually promote products. It’s a very fine line. So, what we thought with Good Karma is that each beer will have a happy story!”
“We hope that people don’t just love the feeling, but also love the beer.”
As well as embracing a mindset of mindfulness and positivity, Good Karma Beer Co are also shaking up the types of beer which are available in a non-alcoholic format.
Their first release, Culture Shock, is a lemon radler. The Bavarian style is something of a cult classic which Good Karma brewed with up and coming craft brewers Rock Leopard. Their second release meanwhile is a hefeweizen, a German wheat style which might also be less familiar to UK drinkers. Both are brewed with organic ingredients.
“I thought for us to stand out from the crowd, to get ourselves noticed, we had to do something different,” explains Sailopal.
“There are a lot of pale ales and IPAs out there. You could say I’ve been there, I’ve done that. Although this section of the industry is growing, it is still a small section.”
“It’s all about trying to drink something a little bit more different, and offer the consumer something different. We don’t want the consumer to get bored either.”
The principles of Ayurveda have influenced both the branding and the recipes. Originating in India over 5000 years ago, the healing science translates literally from Sanskrit as “The Science of Life”.
“A lot of it is based on the energy forms of your body – your body’s metabolic system and the energies surrounding it.”
The decision to brew a lemon radler was influenced by this.
“Lemon in Ayurveda is a product that’s quite widely used. A lot of people in the morning in India will squeeze a fresh lemon, and knock it back as a cleanser.”
Good Karma want to incorporate more herbs like this when they launch a range of wellness sodas to complement the alcohol-free beers next year.
“Some people look at holistic medicine as mumbo jumbo but I feel that we’re coming to a crossroads where mindfulness is not just a fad. Following Ayurvedic principles helped me, so there is no reason it can’t help others!”
“It’s all about trying to make sure there is a smile on your face. It’s convincing that voice at the back of your head, about being positive, about showing up when you want to hide.”
“On the grand scale of things, it’s essential to find joy in the smallest things. It’s about reminding yourself to only worry about the things that you can control.”
With the world having faced such unprecedented global challenges this year, Good Karma’s positivity feels like something we all need.
“I may have been away for two years but I think this industry is only really starting to kick off now,” chuckles Sailopal.
“I might be back at just the right time.”
You can try Good Karma for yourself via their online shop. Whether you want to give Culture Shock, the radler, a go or Love That Feeling, the hefeweizen, they will certainly bring a smile to your face.
This article was sponsored by Good Karma Beer Co. Club Soda retains full control over the content.