Mindful Drinking: 7 questions with Square Root Soda
Instead of Sober October, this year we are championing #MindfulDrinkingMonth.
We believe that that beer and other alcoholic drinks can be enjoyed responsibly as part of a balanced lifestyle - but some days an alcohol-free alternative might be preferred - all part of making mindful choices!
Luckily for us, there is now plenty of exciting alternatives in the alcohol-free space - what was once a category with minimal options is now filled with a vast array of styles and flavours for every taste.
In case you missed it, we teamed up with Square Root Soda for a mindful drinking giveaway over on Instagram. There's still time to enter to win a delicious case of Square Root sodas plus our own mixed case of beers!
In the second of our Mindful Drinking Q&As, we talk to Robyn Simms, co-founder of Square Root Soda.
Hi Robyn! Tell us about your background and how Square Root came to life?
"The idea first came to me when I was working the day shifts at The Euston Tap – it was just as craft beer was starting to take off in London and we had 30 different beers on tap and hundreds of different beers in the fridges, but if you wanted a soft drink your choices were coke or diet coke – How boring! It felt like every day someone would come in with samples of beer from a brewery they were starting up, and there was a real excitement around the different flavours in beer, and I wanted to try and do something similar for soda!
Ed and I started out making our sodas in our kitchen, and selling them at Harringay Market on the weekends. It was hard going, but great fun, and we made loads of friends with some of the other traders along the way (including Bleecker Burger, who we now make a bespoke Iced Tea Lemonade for!). After a little while, we managed to rent a site in Hackney Central, before eventually moving to our shiny new soda works in Leyton in February 2019."
How has the craft soda market changed since your launch in 2012? Have perceptions of your products changed?
"There’s been a huge explosion of new products within the category within the last eight years. When we first started out there wasn’t a lot of competition beyond the big brands, but now there’s a whole host of drinks producers making sodas in all kinds of weird and wonderful flavours. As well as soda, you’ve also got other non-alcoholic RTDs, Kombuchas, alcohol-free beer brands and spirits, so it’s a really vibrant sector nowadays!"
What’s been your most challenging moment to date?
"Building our brand new Soda Works in Leyton! It was a massive job and a huge step up from our previous site, and getting everything done in the time we had available was a real challenge. One of the most important things for us while growing was to always be able to keep our production in house – we freshly press, squeeze and juice all the fruit in our sodas ourselves, and never wanted to compromise on that just because we’re a little bigger now than when we started out!"
How does Square Root differentiate themselves in the market?
"We've made it our mission to know everything there is to know about the fresh fruit in our drinks. One of our key principles is that we will only ever use whole fruit in our drinks, and everything we put out will be made and bottled right here in East London. We wanted to be able to control the whole production process from start to finish, and ensure that anything with our name on it meets our standards!
You’ll also be delighted to learn that there's nothing artificial and no fruit juice from concentrates in our drinks. The heat treatment which fruit concentrate undergoes in order to be preserved and transported wherever it needs to go significantly impairs the flavour in the finished product, and that’s why we’ll never use them!"
You’ve previously done an alcohol-free shandy with us (woohoo!), as well as your take on an Alcohol-free Gin & Tonic and a Negroni, do you have any other exciting AF versions in the pipeline?
"I’m so glad you asked! With everyone spending so much more time online these days, we decided to take a different approach to develop our latest Non-Alcoholic drink and partnered with Millie Gooch, the founder of Sober Girl Society, to crowdsource the idea for our next flavour. We asked what alcoholic cocktail people wanted to see an alcohol-free version of and then refined the ideas we got from there. After two rounds of public voting, the people decided what they really wanted us to make was a Classic Mojito. We’ve been hard at work perfecting the recipe and the Mojito is launching this month!"
What are your predictions for the low and no category going in the next 5 years?
"I think much in the same way that the craft beer industry has continued to do so, we will be driven by quality and by flavour. People want an experience from their drinks, and won’t put up with just being served up with a diet coke anymore. I think we’ll also see more complex and subtle flavours coming to the fore, with premium drinks like Everleaf and Three Spirit continuing to prove popular."
Finally, any tips for those looking to be more Mindful in their drinking habits?
"The thing that helped me the most was making sure I had a stash of great alternatives to drink at home. My go to in the evenings after work would always be to have a beer, so I started with replacing that with a fridge full of alcohol-free beer, kombucha’s and (ofc) tasty sodas. For a lot of people, drinking alcohol is a habit and for me it was easier to initially replace the habit with something else than try to stop it entirely. Once you’ve mastered that, ordering an alternative in a bar is easy!"
DIGGING THE PERKS
- EARN IMPACT.
- UNLOCK REWARDS.
- LATEST IMPACT UPDATES.
- EXCLUSIVE BREWGOODER MERCH.