Freestar Alcohol-Free Beer is the 2019 World Beer Award Winner! Freestar is a new generation of non-alcoholic beer. Whilst regular beer is made of hops, water, malted barley, and yeast, the guys from Freestar skip the yeast, which is what ferments into alcohol; that way they don’t have to remove it later. Instead, they blend it together with a banging mix of hand-selected natural ingredients to build up the flavour complexity. The result is a light & refreshing IPA style lager with a citrus edge! Freestar is also a Benefit Corporation which means that it has managed to meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance, as well as corporate governance and public transparency. We asked Charlie, the co-founder of Freestar a few questions about this brand and how everything started.
What has driven you to create Freestar? When did you realize that its the best time to launch your beer brand?
Um, certainly before the pandemic! No, on a serious note, we started Freestar because we felt there was a real lack of quality alcohol-free options, both from a brand and product point of view. We wanted to great something great tasting, sustainably produced, that made people feel a part of the occasion and excited to be drinking alcohol-free with their mates.
What are the challenges of launching a non-alcoholic beverage?
Well although it’s growing fast, it’s still a relatively small category. So there are a lot of challenges both in terms of your supply chain but also on the sales side, in convincing sometimes sceptical and traditional gatekeepers that the category is something that they need to take seriously. But that is changing pretty quickly as alcohol-free, and moderation, as a lifestyle choice is becoming more and more normalised.
Aside from the incredible taste and sustainable method of production, what is the best thing you like about the Freestar beer?
For us, it’s always been so important to build a brand that we’re proud of. That means harnessing generational energy to walk the walk in terms of our environmental and social impact and to connect with and be relevant for young people in particular. I think we’ve got a great opportunity to do that.
What is most important to Freestar — mission, vision or values?
Bit of a cop-out of this answer but we feel they’re all so linked and without any of them, there would be a huge gap in our purpose and sense of identity. It’s almost like a house; the values are the walls, the main rooms are the mission and the roof is the vision! Not sure if that works but let’s commit to it!
If you weren’t building your beer brand, what would you be doing?
We were all in jobs we loved beforehand. I/Charlie was at Tesla, Felix was at Sipsmith and Eddy was at Propercorn. So we would either still be there or starting another passion project, hopefully together!
What is next for Freestar? What can we look forward to?
It’s been a challenging year so 2021 is going to be about getting the Freestar brand out there in the trade, as it opens up. Beyond that, we’ve got some fun activation plans in the pipe for the summer, some of which will go ahead no matter what. Otherwise, we don’t want to jinx it but let’s just say we’re crossing fingers & toes for some of the festival season to be possible!
What’s the first reform you’d implement if you became Minister for the Environment?
Our belief is that greenhouse gas emissions represent the greatest environmental and the greatest humanitarian threat of the 21st century; it’s one of the reasons we make our beer differently, so it emits over 90% less CO2 than the industry average. Some of what will happen with climate change is irreversible but the decisions we as a society, and internationally, make now will have an enormous impact on its severity. We would bring in stricter curbs on greenhouse gas emissions and greater tax incentives for companies to achieve net-zero emissions. As a society, we need to be doing more if we’re going to reach that target by 2050.