Startup Interview: Drynks Unlimited

TechRound recently spoke to Richard Clark, Founder and MD of Drynks Unlimited about his company…

Drynks Unlimited is a British craft drinks business that focuses 100% on producing 0% drinks. Its mission is to create a portfolio of alcohol-free brands that deliver an authentic, natural taste that will let drinkers forget that they aren’t drinking something alcoholic.

We are the only UK drinks business to invest in a state-of-the-art cool vacuumed distillation kit which gently dealcoholises full-strength drinks. This produces delicious alcohol-free drinks that taste just as good as a quality alcoholic version.

Under the overarching banner of ‘Rethinking Drinking’ the business is creating a new premium range of brands for the significant and ever-increasing numbers of consumers who are looking for a quality alternative to an alcoholic drink

Our first alcohol-free brand SMASHED is made up of a range of five alcohol-free beers and ciders which all start life as Real beer and Real cider. This includes SMASHED Lager, SMASHED Apple Cider, SMASHED Citrus lager, SMASHED Berry cider and SMASHED Pale Ale which are available in bottles and cans for both the on and off trade.

Smashed Lager and Smashed Pale ale is available in Sainsbury’s with the full range also available in Booths and multiple places online. The brand has also gone global and is available in Spinneys and Waitrose stores in the Middle East and soon to launch in the USA.

richard-clark-drynks-unlimited

Who Are The Brains Behind The Company?

The business was founded in 2017 by ex-Halewood marketing director and drinks industry expert Richard Clark who had a burning desire to create the best alcohol-free drinks portfolio on the market. I spotted an opportunity to build a company of drinks experts with the sole purpose to develop great-tasting alcohol-free drinks that give anyone not wanting to drink booze a real choice.

We launched SMASHED, a range of alcohol-free beers and ciders, in 2019 with the intention of creating a whole new category of truly alcohol free (0.05% and below) drinks that gave consumers real authentic choice and quality.

I raised and invested over £1.5m in the UK’s only cool vacuum distillation plant which takes premium craft beer and cider and gently removes the alcohol creating alcohol-free drinks that taste just as good as full-strength beers and cider.  This alcohol-free brewery is in high-demand from competitor brands who want access to this innovative and next-generation drinks technology.

Why Alcohol And Why Non-Alcoholic?

Consumers are looking to balance their drinking and that means flexing between alcoholic and alcohol-free options. Most of our customers still like to have an alcoholic drink but when they don’t, they want a high-quality alternative which gives them the same sociable drinking experience so they don’t feel left out.

We have seen this trend toward flexing between ABVs in our sales over the last 12 months. Our SMASHED range of 0% beers and ciders has seen sales increase by 109% Jan 20-Jan 21 in Booths and this is mirrored across our online sales.

How Are People’s Attitudes Towards Alcohol Changing In The UK?

This mindful drinking trend is here to stay with getting drunk less of a goal as more than a third of people (34%) actively switching between high, low and zero alcohol drinks on a night out (or in). The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated this mindful drinking trend with almost a fifth (17%) of Brits say they will drink less alcohol in the future as a result of the pandemic.

Consumers are savvy and they will vote with their wallets if an alcohol-free drink doesn’t deliver on taste and experience. This gives the emerging low and no alcohol category an opportunity to innovate and offer a range of high-quality drinks which can stand up to scrutiny.

Why Do You Think That Is?

We are becoming a much more health-conscious society and we are demanding more from the food and drink we consume. We want to have fun but we want to do that in a balanced more mindful way. Low and no alcohol drinks enable us to enjoy ourselves over a drink and connect with friends and family without the resulting hangover.

Are People Moving Towards More Non-Alcoholic Drinks, Or Are They Simply Incorporating Them Into Their Existing Drinking Habits?

The vast majority of consumers are flexing between alcoholic and non alcoholic drink options. They may choose an alcohol-free beer during the week or mix and match between ABVs on a night out to help manage how tipsy they get.

What Makes Drynks Unique, Compared To Say, Heineken’s Non-Alcoholic Beers?

Drynks is unique in the UK as we’re the only alcohol-free drinks business that has invested in a cool vacuum distillation plant which is housed in Robinson’s Brewery in Manchester. We invested early on in cool vacuum distillation because future proofing the quality of our AF drinks was key to our growth in the sector. This has been a savvy investment and meant that we can produce a range of AF drinks and constantly challenge competitors on taste.

All our SMASHED drinks start life as Real craft beers and ciders at around 5% ABV and then we gently remove the alcohol. This pioneering technology is the most expensive and technically challenging way of removing alcohol from alcoholic drinks but enables us to produce a range of quality premium British 0% drinks that far surpasses the competition. This strategy has been based on striving to deliver authentic alcohol free products that truly mirror the alcohol sub categories.

Heineken use the same cool vacuum distillation process as us but they brew in the Netherlands and only dealcoholise Heineken. We use premium British craft beers and ciders as our base liquid which have been specially created for us, so the end result is exceptional.

How Is Drynks Made, Seeing As There Is No Alcohol Involved?

We have worked hard for many years to develop and craft a range of truly alcohol-free drinks that offer consumers who want to flex their drinking a real authentic choice. We own the only cool vacuum distillation (CVD) machine in the UK which gently de-alcoholises real craft beer and cider producing 0% drinks that taste as good as the alcoholic original. All our SMASHED beers and ciders maintain the same bubbly personality, character and flavour of the original full alcohol version. 0% alcohol can deliver 100% taste.

How and Where Can We Find You?

SMASHED is available in selected Sainsbury’s* stores (SMASHED Lager and SMASHED Pale ale 4 pack box) and the full range is in Booths supermarket. It is also available online at www.drynks.co.uk, Zeroholic.co.uk, Drydrinker.com, and a range of local independent retailers and bars across the UK.

Globally the brand is available in Spinneys and Waitrose stores in the Middle East and soon to launch in the USA. Check us out on www.drynks.co.uk and on social @drynkssocial