Have you ever questioned your relationship with alcohol? If you have, you’re not alone. Today, 40% of Canadians are prioritizing their mental well-being due to the pandemic. Millennials are spurring the sober curious movement, which encourages balancing alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages or adopting a sober lifestyle.
Quench your curiosity and mark your calendars for a Non-Alcoholic Holiday Pop-Up Shop at Stackt market with ClearSips. Visit for complimentary tastings and to check out the holiday retail shop from Tuesday, November 15-Sunday, November 27. The market is open Tuesdays to Sundays from 12-8 pm.
As a wine expert and professional wine and spirit judge, I’ve taken a few breaks, including a 3-month break in the fall of 2021. I slept better, my skin felt healthier, and I saved a lot of money. I have many friends currently exploring an alcohol-free lifestyle. I’m also on a mission to taste as many non-alcoholic wines (right now on my bar cart I have Clearsips Mezcal, Whisky and Gin) and spirits as I can to bring inclusion to an industry that is more known to promote the consumption of alcohol rather than the opposite.
From regular humans to A-listers, living alcohol-free is a choice many are very curious about. “Changing the conversation about being social and having fun without alcohol is so important.” says Canadian singer-songwriter Serena Ryder, Born in Toronto,Serena she grew up in Millbrook, Ontario. Ryder first gained national recognition with her ballad “Weak in the Knees” in 2007 and has released eight studio albums. She is also one of my favourite artists.
“I love to party and be out with my friends. Drinking Libra non-alcohol beer allows me to be social and not feel like I am missing out,” says Serena Ryder. It’s true no one wants to miss out and this is one of the biggest challenges to living a NA lifestyle. Libra Beer has made Serena Ryder their Chief Balance Officer and Upstreet Craft Brewing’s ‘Do Good Fund‘ ensures that 1% of Libra N/A beer sales go towards supporting ArtHaus Serena’s music incubator, mentorship and experiential wellness community.
Sarah Kate is the founding editor and publisher of Some Good Clean Fun, a lifestyle platform celebrating an alcohol-free lifestyle. She is Canada’s leading non-alcoholic drinks expert, on-air personality, mom of two, and advocate for rethinking drinking and changing the conversation about women, wine and health. She and I sat down to talk more about living an alcohol-free lifestyle and learn more about why one might consider this direction as well as the main benefits.
What motivated you to choose an alcohol-free lifestyle?
SK: I was drinking a lot of wine on weeknights and then more on weekends. I started to feel like it was out of my control and I hated it. I wanted to be a better person, and a better parent, and I knew it was preventing me from reaching my goals.
Who do you see moving towards an alcohol-free lifestyle, is it a trend and why?
SK: We know that a lot of people in Canada increased their drinking during the pandemic, which seems to have triggered those same people to become much more aware of the effects of alcohol. There’s also been a huge wave of health-conscious, wellness thinking because of the pandemic too. I think these two things combined have led to a sober curious movement that might feel trendy right now, but is gradually going to become more and more commonplace once people see the benefits – and have great non-alcoholic drink options to turn to.
What are the main reasons one should consider an alcohol-free lifestyle?
SK: Considering an alcohol-free lifestyle is choosing the ultimate healthy lifestyle. Over the past fifty or so years, we’ve all been led to believe by marketing and advertising that drinking is healthy, or that drinking should be a part of everyday life. The hard truth is that even one glass of wine, beer or cocktail affects our heart, brain and organ health – even if we don’t get a hangover. You don’t need a ‘reason’ to reduce alcohol consumption or choose an alcohol-free lifestyle because doing so has major health benefits when it comes to physical wellbeing and mental well-being.
What are the signs one might want to consider an alcohol-free lifestyle?
SK: As mentioned above, you don’t necessarily need to have a ‘problem’ with alcohol to decide to choose to have an alcohol-free lifestyle, however, there are some key things to ask yourself. I was thinking about drinking wine way more than I should have been, and that bothered me. I was spending a lot of time planning when I was going to buy wine, or drink wine, and it was starting to be an issue. I had also started downplaying the amount I was drinking to my friends and family, feeling a little embarrassed about the third or fourth glass for instance. My advice is that if you’re centring alcohol in your life in any way, or questioning your relationship with it, then you should consider you might need a break – either for a day, a week or forever.
What are the main benefits of an alcohol-free lifestyle?
SK: Too many benefits to list! Being present in life is such a joy and to me, that’s the biggest benefit. I can enjoy life fully, without anything dulling my senses or my experiences. The second huge benefit is my overall health – I’ve become 100x healthier both mentally and physically than I was when I was drinking glasses of wine every night. My skin looks great, my depression has been massively reduced, and I’m active six days a week and enjoying other wellness benefits.
If one was “alcohol-free curious” how should one start to explore?
SK: If you’re rethinking drinking, a great place to start is to read about drinking and alcohol and the effects it has on your wellness – we love “Quit Like A Woman” by Holly Whittaker – Chrissy Tiegen read it and loved it and it helped her quit drinking.
The second thing is to read about non-alcoholic drink options and where to buy them and start experimenting to find what you like to drink. We have lots of recommendations and reviews at somegoodcleanfun.com! Swapping your regular drinks for non-alcoholic options on a regular basis will start to help rewire the neuro-pathways your brain has developed around drinking. It doesn’t have to be cold turkey. Learning how to enjoy non-alcoholic beer, wine or cocktails is a big part of shifting to a healthier lifestyle.
What are the challenges one might have in making the move to an alcohol-free lifestyle?
SK: Your brain has developed wired habits, so you’re going to hit life and social situations in which you will feel pressured to drink, and your brain will try and persuade you that you need to have one. It’s a big hurdle to overcome. In the beginning, it’s a lot of work, but as time goes on your brain re-learns how to be a human and be able to withstand social pressures.
What are your recommended alcohol-free wine, beer and spirits?
SK: My favourite non-alcoholic wines right now are Lautus Savvy Red, and Oddbird Low Intervention White both imported from overseas. As for beer, Libra Craft Beer from PEI, Harmon’s from Toronto and Nonny from Vancouver are my go-to Canadian craft beer brands. And there is a long list of spirits that I recommend! Right now, premixed craft non-alcoholic cocktails are really trending so I’ve been drinking a lot of those – DRNK from Vancouver, AB0VE Cocktails (available at Loblaws across Canada) and Noroi from Quebec is my favourite.
What does an alcohol-free lifestyle mean in particular for women?
SK: If you choose an alcohol-free lifestyle, you’re reducing your breast cancer risk. The risk factor for breast cancer in women that drink is very high – there’s a 15% increase in breast cancer risk with more than three drinks a week. That’s ⅔ of a bottle of wine or more per week.
How does Libra non-alcohol Craft beer perform next to a regular beer?
SK: Libra is a premium non-alcoholic craft beer, and when I categorize it that way, I mean that it is as elevated as a regular beer and sometimes even better. It’s very hard to identify there’s no alcohol in a Libra when you taste it – the complexity and flavour of all of their styles create the same ‘beer’ experience people are looking for, minus the hangover. My husband and my marketing assistant’s husband both crush Libra’s on a daily basis and are happily cutting out alcohol without even trying!
Do you have any tips for people who are either looking or not looking but are curious about an alcohol-free lifestyle?
SK Just try a few weeks of swapping out your regular drinks for non-alcoholic beer, wine or a nocktail (NOT mocktail – we say ‘nocktail’ which is a non-alcoholic cocktail), and you’ll start to see how fun they are and how you might actually enjoy the taste without the usual side effects! We have lots of recommendations at somegoodcleanfun.com!
Libra was created by Upstreet owners Mitch Cobb and Mike Hogan’s need to socialize without sacrificing their health. After two and a half years of research and development, Upstreet Craft Brewing launched its first Libra Pale Ale in October 2020. Following the success of the Pale Ale, it launched Libra Hazy IPA in the summer, which sold out in a matter of days. Just in time for fall, Canadians can enjoy two new brews: a Libra Pilsner and a limited batch of Libra Pumpkin Spice Ale. The international beer community also recently awarded two 2021 World Beer Award bronze medals to Libra Pale Ale in the non-alcoholic beer and can design categories.
Upstreet Craft Brewing, a B-Corp certified beverage company on a mission to refresh the community and its non-alcoholic craft beer brand Libra, has partnered with Juno-award-winning Canadian folk-rocker Serena Ryder to normalize socializing without alcohol. As Libra’s Chief Balance Ambassador, Serena will co-create wellness-inspired content and experiences that encourage Canadians to re-imagine what being social means to them and help them find a balance that works with their health and lifestyle goals
“I chose to work with Libra beer because they completely align with my core values. They are all about mental wellness, health, and sustainability, and they are a B-corp, so doing business differently is in their DNA. I also really love everything about the beer. There are so many opportunities for us to help Canadians find their balance but also give back and support other artists.”
As part of this partnership and Upstreet Craft Brewing’s ‘Do Good Fund,’ 1% of Libra sales will support ArtHaus Serena’s music incubator, mentorship and experiential wellness community. Its mission is to create a landscape where artists, musicians, creators, music industry leaders and wellness experts can come together and support one another. Its mentorship programs help artists hone their craft and collaborate with others in the industry while also providing mental wellness tools to support their overall wellness.
Libra can be found nationally on Well.ca and Drinklibra.ca. In Atlantic Canada, Libra can be purchased at Sobeys, select liquor stores, Upstreet’s three locations in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, and Coleman’s Grocery Stores in Newfoundland.