Booze-free beverages created by Calgarians

For the past few years, Dry January has been a thing; an antidote of sorts to December’s holiday overindulging. And now there’s Dry February and Sober October, too.

In fact, throughout the entire year, more and more Canadians are rethinking — and reducing — their booze consumption.

According to Curren Goodden Associates (CGA), a global consumer research organization and food and beverage marketing firm Your Brand Integrated Marketing Communications  (YBIMC), “no- and low-alcohol is now the fastest-growing segment in the North American adult beverage industry, at 31 per cent, versus alcohol at only 0.7 per cent.”

Close to one in four millennials — those of us born between 1981 and 1996 — don’t drink alcohol at all. Nada. Never. Not a drop.

Perhaps it won’t be surprising, then, to hear about Calgarians who are leading this trend as creators of zero-proof, booze-free beverages for adults.

Here are three who are changing the way we think about adult drinks:



Kirk Reynolds is the first to admit he’s a big fan of a good old-fashioned Jack and Coke.

But, he says, his doctor told him he needed to cut back on the whisky and pop. It wasn’t the alcohol so much as it was the sugar. Reynolds was on the verge of diabetes and needed to cut back, quickly.

A long-time hockey player and coach who spent 15 years on the Canadian Olympic shooting team, Reynolds has long known the importance of eating well. Problem was, he still wanted something tasty… and he didn’t like what he found. Some highball alternatives didn’t taste good, while others were too high in sugar. “I just kept thinking surely there has to be a better way to do this,” he says.

He began to experiment with distilling and, in early 2022, Sobreo was born. The line of alcohol-free spirits is distilled in Calgary and includes Sobreo Tuscan Juniper, Valencia Orange, Indonesian Cinnamon, Vietnamese Star Anise, French Gentian and Guatemalan Cardamom. New seasonal products are in the works for 2023.

Made of proprietary blends of botanicals, adaptogens and superfoods, they are for sale across Canada and much of the U.S.

“They’re all plant-based, 100 per cent sugar-free and they taste delicious,” says Reynolds, who adds that his doctor is a lot happier with him these days, too. “I’ve lost 40 pounds and I just feel so much better.”

Visit website: Sobreo

one for the road brewing


Graham Matheos’ booze-free journey began a couple of decades ago, when a friend needed to give up alcohol. In support, Matheos offered to stop drinking with him. A year came and went, and Mattheos found he didn’t really have the urge to go back. “I weighed out the pros and cons, and there just weren’t enough reasons to go back to drinking,” he says.

At that time, the craft beer scene in Canada was just starting to boom and new breweries were opening everywhere. Matheos loved the beer, but wanted a zero-proof version for himself, his friend and others.

In 2018, he launched One for the Road, a nod to the active lifestyle that he, his friends and family lead.

One for the Road now offers seven styles and nine different products, including Still Struggling (an espresso stout), Saskaberry Blonde Ale, Proceed with Caution (amber ale), and the Stone Sofa Kolsch, which won a gold medal for top non-alcoholic beer in Canada at the 2022 Canadian Brewing Awards. You’ll find them online and at myriad local restaurants and retailers, including Bottlescrew Bill’s, Calgary Co-op, Ten Foot Henry and Vine Arts.

Matheos is the first to admit he’s not a brewmaster. He’s a physiotherapist by day, craft beer dude by night, working with the team at Last Spike Brewery in Calgary to create his award-winning cans.

He says he loves what he’s doing and he loves watching the zero-proof scene expand. “There’s been a real growing interest in non-alcoholic craft beer,” he says. “People aren’t embarrassed anymore to say they don’t drink.”

Visit website: One For The Road Brewery

wild folk beverages


Dalia Kohen founded The Coup restaurant in 2004 and owned it until 2020. A decade or so into owning the popular vegetarian restaurant, she started noticing a new trend.

“I was always cruising around the room, chatting with guests, asking if everything was OK, and I started to notice more people were choosing not to drink,” she says. “People were drinking less, or they’d order an alcoholic drink and not finish it.”

Reasons varied: Some were with work colleagues and wanted to fit in but stay sober. Others were driving or simply didn’t feel like consuming alcohol. “So, I started creating drinks that would feel like they were having a cocktail but without the alcohol,” she says.

People liked what she was doing. So much so that in 2021 she launched Wild Folk Beverages, alcohol-free canned cocktails made with fair-trade and hand-harvested herbs, botanicals and citrus.

You can find them online ( and at restaurants and retailers across Alberta, British Columbia and Ontario, including Azuridge, Cookbook Co. Cooks, Luke’s Drug Mart and Park by Sidewalk in Calgary.

A chef by trade, Kohen is now working to expand the lineup, which currently includes a Wild Folk Vermouth Spritz, Sparkling Negroni and The Bee’s Knees.

“Just because you’re not drinking alcohol doesn’t mean you can’t go out and have fun and feel wild,” she says.

Visit website: Wild Folk Beverages

More Zero-proof options founded by Calgarians


Partake founder Ted Fleming decided to give up drinking alcohol after being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.

But he didn’t like the taste of the non-alcoholic beers that were for sale at the time so, in 2017, he founded Partake, non-alcoholic beers available across the city and beyond.

Visit website: Partake Brewing


Brothers Leigh and Lane Matkovich are behind Nonny Beer, a local business featuring an all-natural, preservative-free Czech-style pilsner and Nonny’s Pale Ale.

They’ve recently announced a Dark Lager is coming soon.

Visit website: Nonny Beer


Noticing an increasing demand for non-alcoholic beverages, Graham Sherman of Tool Shed Brewing Co. took their most popular beer and created Zero People Skills, an alcohol free version with the same flavour profile.

It’s been so well received in the community they now have a second zero alcohol beer: Zero Red Rage.

Visit website: Tool Shed Brewing Co.


Calgarian Ryan Mikucki was one of the first retailers to recognize the growing demand for zero-proof drinks. His online shop, Not Wasted, features alcohol-free drinks from around the world, including Sobreo, Wild Folk and One for the Road.

Visit Notwasted for more information.