So today I’m very excited to be joined by Amy Armstrong. And if you don’t know who Amy is, Amy’s the founder of drybutwet.com.au. And that’s a resource dedicated to highlighting non alcoholic drinks and where you can find them. As part of this Amy’s leading the charge to get more non alcoholic drinks into your favourite bars, pubs and restaurants. Amy, welcome to the non alcoholic drinks podcasts.
Thank you, Jonathan. Nice to be here
It’s great to have you and to be able to chat. Yeah, it really looks like you’ve had an amazing level of interest in all things dry but wet. Before we kick off on that it would be really cool to understand and kind of get everyone up to speed on your background and how you kind of got into the space,
I got into the space by having a really big bad blackout one day, a long lunch that went for too long. And that was sort of a line in the sand moment. For me I’d had some alcohol issues for quite a few years, but hadn’t really recognized it. And during lockdown of last year, I think our first or second lockdown, I just got to the point where I was overdoing it constantly and was getting pretty sick and myself and one particularly bad incident one bad lunch slash afternoon.
I decided from that point on that I couldn’t continue with alcohol. So a friend put me on to the alcohol experiment, which is a free online program that you can do over the course of 30 days. And it’s essentially mindset training around alcohol and your relationship with them. And I sort of haven’t really looked back since that I drank the Kool Aid I was just in after that like that was just mind blowing and life changing. So since during that I had a total 180 switch of went from thinking that I couldn’t have a life without alcohol. I couldn’t imagine my life without wine and to not being able to imagine dealing with that anymore. And one of the ways that I have found helpful with moving on and being able to still socialize and do all the things that I love to do is by using non alcoholic drinks. So what started out initially was me trying to find a red wine replacement, because I loved red wine. And that was the thing I missed the most because obviously it was winter and that’s what I wanted. So I just started buying and trying and buying and trying and buying and trying and being like right so this is not as easy it was what I thought it was going to be.
And I think that’s really what so many people find right? It’s early in the space and for you It sounded like it was early 2020 and you’re come to this decision to kind of move away from alcohol. And it sounds like there was really no way to know like you said you’re buying and trying buying and trying and there’s really no way to know what’s good or where you can even find it whether that’s at a retailer or in a bar or a pub right?
Yeah, I think at the start I probably would have gone to Dan Murphy’s I actually can’t really remember but then I remember jumping online and started out buying from craft zero I think at that point Irene hadn’t even launched sense drinks yet.
I do remember her launching so I would have started off buying things from craft zero I was keeping notes in my in my phone so I was just taking a photo and writing yes or no or you know, just for myself so it wasn’t gonna try something again that I had been terrible and I remember even at that point, I think I had more luck with the sparkling wines than the reds and it got to sort of December that year and I was talking to a girlfriend and showing her all my notes and she said you should be sharing this like this is useful knowledge for other people you got to share this so we set up an Instagram account and my husband came up with the name that day and yeah, I just set it up and started saying you know this is terrible pull this down saying don’t buy this and this is really good and I really enjoyed it for these reasons.
And where can people find you on Instagram? You said you set that up?
Yeah, that’s @dry_but_wet
So @dry_but_wet on Instagram?
Yeah, I guess because also honest, I got quite a really good amount of feedback and interaction from the people that started following me and was suggested quite a few times like you need to bring all this together, you need to put it on a website or you need to at least create a spreadsheet or do something that you can share so that we can compare notes with notes because we’re just losing it in your Instagram feeds. Okay, all right, boss. Okay. All right. So I’ve set up a website and started putting the Reds together with ratings and collating it all so people could easily navigate what was there and yeah, and that’s just grown and grown and grown and as you know yourself, you know, you’re there’s new products coming out by the day. Now the markets just growing so quickly, like I’m so far behind on reviewing things because there’s only so many hours in the day.
Yeah, I feel your pain. It’s crazy. And I think it is one of those things where Just so much coming through, and it’s so great. It’s such a great problem. But equally it does get to that point where, especially for you being in it so early, I imagine you’ve come from view, we didn’t know where to buy it. And now you’ve actually got so much to review that it swung the complete other way.
Yeah, it’s 100% the other way. And it’s such a good problem to have like, it’s so amazing. And I can taste that the quality is ever increasing. Yeah. And
I think it’s one of those things where I was actually talking to my dad the other day, and he said, they were on a call with a winemaker from one of the wineries out in the Yarra Valley. And all they do is focus on traditional wine. So alcoholic wine, and even those guys are now looking into the space of how they can get a piece of the market. And I guess where you’ve got premium winemakers now looking to enter the space and utilize their knowledge from a winemaking background. It’s only going to raise it even further isn’t it and like you said it touches on that point of you can actually start to taste it now the difference?
Yeah, you really can like what I what was on offer, and especially in terms of red wine six months ago, there’s just so much more so many better options. It’s great. It drives me to keep on the right path. I know it’s like it’s good for me to be able to share all this knowledge with people but for me, it’s doing all these reviews and the writing and the whole drive width piece is just it really helps me as well because it gives me focus.
Yeah, and like you mentioned that kind of decision to make that really hard choice to move away from alcohol, which is something you’ve previously enjoyed drinking and I feel that’s hard enough when you’ve got a built out community and accepting culture around it and like a fruitful and accessible products right so having made that decision to move across like you said, it’s kind of reassuring seeing all of these new products and it’s starting to grow quite rapidly.
Yeah, is it because when you do decide to stop, like when I decided to stop, I was the only sober person that I knew. And I imagine that can be quite daunting, it is daunting, especially when you don’t want to be a hurt become a hermit you want to still be able to go out and socialize and do all the things that you enjoy doing and still feel a part of the party really.
And it’s funny like even though I think we come at it from quite different ends of the spectrum it’s that very exact same feeling of wanting to be part of the party and not wanting to be the hermit I get that it’s kind of really nice to see the way that things like dry but wet are coming to the market and helping people with that. I guess the way I compare it is it’s kind of doing for the non alcoholic space or people who choose not to drink alcohol to I guess the way the publicity that like veganism got so how that became really popular and then had all of the culture around it and now it’s like really it’s just normal like you’ve got veggie bar you’ve got a whole host of things which are dedicated to vegetarianism and veganism the movement of kind of movement of dry but wet is helping, do that for the non alcoholic space.
I think the market is like the supermarket like you know, if there’s a whole vegan section in the supermarket, then it’s it is becoming accepted in the mainstream. And that’s what we’re seeing now with the non help where I live because we’re quite regional. We’ve got three war words in our town and one war words is only one is starting to stop the non-alc. And I walked in yesterday and male got the whole new naked life range. Massive range.
Yeah, they’re starting to really grow aren’t they?
Yeah. And it’s all in there. And it’s just like, it’s really the market. I think it’s starting to crossover.
And have you seen I guess from your end with people you’re interacting in whether it’s directly on the website, or through Instagram, have you found that people are kind of skewing to one particular type of drink or a range of drinks,
I thought it was one. I had this preconceived notion that everyone was only interested in wine, because I think a lot of the people that I was interacting with were heavily focused on wine, but I’m trying to do some market research and business building ideas and all of that at the moment. And so I’ve been doing a lot more interacting with people, one on one, and it’s not just that at all. People want to find whiskey replacements and I was speaking to a girl the other day, and she would like fruity drinks. And I’m like, have you ever thought about that because I hate fruity drinks, but people want different things she wants she’s I want something really sweet, but without the sugar. I’m like, Okay, well actually, I know this and this and this and you should try these.
And is that kind of the premise of dry but wet it’s there to really help people find first of all drinks because I know it said it’s got drink reviews and it’s there to help people find drinks that are out there. But there’s a few other aspects of it as well in terms of the venue register, and I guess the petition sitting behind it to help people contribute, I should say a way to actually help and get those drinks into venues. They kind of two other key factors I’ve heard as well. Yeah, absolutely.
And that’s just grown really organically over the last sort of eight to 10 months that sort of started with just me personally with this all just to keep starting with me personally and then being like I should share this. Again, wanting to go out and enjoy myself and getting cranky as all hell with no options on drinks menus and needing to find a way around that. And initially my way around that was by you know before I went out to dinner anywhere not just on the day like two weeks in advance give them as much lead time as possible contacting the restaurant and saying look, I’m coming for dinner for whatever reason, quite often you know it’s good to pump up a reason that’s really special wedding anniversary or inflate it make a big deal out of it. I’m coming for dinner and it really means a lot to me if I could bring a bottle of non alcoholic wine because I see that you’ve got nothing on your list or be prepared to pay Kokesh Would that be okay and you know I’ve got really mixed responses from that obviously I would have been able to do it for a long time because we talked down and feels like it’s forever but some venues are just too hard fast no we don’t allow any BYO and that annoys me because I know there’s no licensing issue there obviously is it’s just a stupid policy for no reason. But even if you get a note it opens up an opportunity for further conversation and that even just that could be just planting a seed for them that that venue is never considered.
So it sounds like not only are you benefiting yourself by saying hey I want to bring this because I like drinking it but also at the same time using that entry point to be like hey actually I know you may not have considered it but this is what I can do for you and then I guess that’s where this whole piece sitting behind it goes to look these are all the people that are drinking it and the people that would support it does that then lead into well these are the people that you could speak to who can help you stop it? Yeah,
Absolutely. Because I’ve been working with brands and stuff a lot more now I’ve got those connections and I can actually hook venues up with the right people and make recommendations but what I’ve done on the website really with the squeaky wheel is I’ve got all those helpful hints on how to approach venues because quite often people are if something’s not on the menu or in front of them they’re too afraid to ask or they’re just not used to asking so I think really when we want to drive change it has to be consumer driven so it’s up to us to ask to a certain extent so I really want people to be able to feel empowered to do that. So there’s a lot of information there about doing that.
And what are some of those hints look like?
Probably just like what I’ve already run through like the asking your head doing it however you’re comfortable like if you’re not comfortable talking to someone face to face or on the phone and then email them or get them on social media and just ask if you can bring us what they have for starters because sometimes you don’t know and then if they don’t have anything ask if they can be why or if they don’t let you be why I say well given the fact that we’ve got two weeks would you consider getting x y and for me at all roads lead to no then it’s like well Okay, do I really want to go and had that meal that for me like it does come down to that because I really just, it’s really it’s not hard but it grinds my gears if I have to sit there and have literally no options when I’m surrounded by people.
Yeah, it really detracts back from that whole reason non alcoholic drinks are there really to help engage in and bring that sense of thinking gauge what’s the right word really being part of the fun? It’s inclusive? Yes, exactly. That’s the word inclusiveness and when they’re not even open to taking it on is really interesting and I think it’s one which is a super interesting point because how have you seen that change come about since you first started trying to get these into venues to now have you found that people are a little bit more inclusive or a little bit more open to the idea of having them on board?
Yeah, absolutely. I mean in my small town in here where I live in Port ferry, there’s I think there’s not a venue in town now where you can’t get a non alcoholic drink. So that’s awesome. Even our daggy pubs have non alcoholic beer which is great and I don’t think I mean I can’t take all the credit for that I think it’s a groundswell that is happening organically anyway across the board like most pubs will now at least have a carbon zero or a Heineken what and whilst that’s not necessarily the best, it’s a start and it means that it’s on their radar it is happening organically by itself but then there are places that need a bigger push and then there’s venues that are like totally caning it and leading the way like the Vic Hotel in Footscray, where they have a full non outclassed you can get naughty on bottle service, they’ve got sober and they’re trying to get heaps normal on tap there and they’ve got all them on so pit net con butchers, and they’ve they’re looking at putting on a still read and they they’ve got everything there. I think it’s a full list. It’s its own thing. And it’s incredible. And that’s a pub!
that’s really interesting that you mentioned bath looking to get heaps normal on top, because when I spoke to big drop in the UK, he said that’s the very next thing for the guys in the UK to do and that is to get it on draft in a pub. And it’s interesting that most of the time the UK and 18 months to 24 months ahead of us and they haven’t managed to get that there yet, but it’s Andrew McConnell, isn’t it at the Footscray hotel, who’s been able to push it through?
Ah, no, Andrew, who takes care of all the builders arms, our builders arms, yeah. But they are they are like sisters to each other. So it’s Anthony Herrmann does the public in the Footscray. Yeah, and he’s a legend, but he’s also are involved with builders, right where they have mon. So on tap Incidentally, one so on top there, which is cool.
So it sounds like it’s really moving at the rate of knots. What do you say next in terms of the in venue pace? Because I think that’s the bit that’s really missing at the moment isn’t that it’s that once we come out of lockdown, what do you say happening in that space? And I guess how can beyond the petition How can people contribute to that?
I think the next big step for everyone is wine. Because at the moment, it’s easy to put a beer on, people are stocking Monday in places, but wine is the next big step. Because I think it’s just that that’s a big step, it just feels like a big scary step because the quality has been so varied. And it feels like a big commitment to putting wine on. But then there’s brands like Vinada, who are bringing out the piccolos. And that makes it easier to have on premises. So there’s like little tiny baby steps in there that can help. And so really, apart from the petition, which we need more signatures on, we’re sort of at the 1700 mark, and we want to at least get two and a half 1000 on there. It’s just it’s just continuing to ask whenever we are allowed out. Again, it’s just continuing to ask and have those conversations, if you get a No, just keep asking!
And really pushing the point. And so much of it is still out there in terms of people actually don’t know that it is something which is in demand, because I almost feel like you could have a discussion with so many pub owners or restaurant owners and they may not know so I think that’s right in terms of keeping the momentum behind it.
Yeah, and I think also supporting the venues that do the right thing is really important as well supporting them and promoting them. So if you if you’re having dinner somewhere and they’ve got options, then sharing that on your social media, if you’re comfortable doing that, that helps them an awful lot as well and just encourages more of the same because venues talk to each other like their home network. And if people see someone doing something, well, then they’re maybe going to be a little bit more inclined to giving it a go.
And in terms of the venues as well. You’ve got the venue register, which houses venues from all over Australia, right. So have you found that has been a really good resource. I think you’ve used yourself a couple of times, right?
Yeah, yeah, I have used it myself. Which is it’s good. It’s handy to have and yeah, that’s growing all the time. It’s sort of things are sort of slowed up since we’ve been in in lockdown. I feel like people aren’t in the right headspace to be adding to it but it’s good and it’s this venues in every state and territory and then also once people can get out and about again, I think I’ll start asking for more submissions to that because it’s really important for people to be able to support the venues that are doing the right thing and know where they are.
Yeah, absolutely and not even I guess cantered in the main CBD areas that really I found at least they’re really branched out even out into the suburbs out here and down in Melbourne by walked into one just before lockdown six hit and it was really intriguing I was talking to the owners and they were like oh we love our non alcoholic drinks here and they had the liars range they had a couple of other spirits as well and they had a few different beers as well so it was just nice to see the ranges start to grow but I think you’re right in terms of that piece and other banana guys have the piccolos coming in and like you said that kind of really de risks it for the venue because they’re not going to be stuck with a big bottle they’re actually going to be able to move one bottle and then not have to sit on the rest of it which is really quite cool.
To round out my chat with Amy we spoke about the three drinks she’s really enjoying at the moment and we also touched on the really important piece where and how you too can help get drinks into venues and what the key steps are to help you do that. As always if you are looking for the steps in more detail you can find them over at triple zero.com forward slash session 08 they’ll all be there in the show notes for you to check out so check out what Amy has to say on her favourite drinks and how you too can contribute to getting more and more drinks into venues as well. I did want to ask you what a couple of your favourite drinks are at the moment like you said there are so many coming through if I can narrow it down what would your top I’ll give you three what would your top three be
My desert island drinks? The Noughty Rose SO GOOD!
Really? it’s a kind of about the rest
So good, the Molly Rose Citra Citra
the orange one?
That beer is so tasty. And if I had to choose one more, I do love me and Monday Paloma and then going into summer I think oh it’s so refreshing.
Yeah, I haven’t had that one yet. What’s that one all about?
It’s like tequila and pink grapefruit finger lime. Yeah, it’s everything that I have because I love citrus and a bit of Tang so it’s perfect the other Monday Paloma is my number one refreshing drink!
So you’ve got the Paloma, you’ve got the Molly rose Citra and the Noughty Rose? They sound like a great Spring Summer trail right?
Well, it’s you know, now that we’re getting these nicer days is that forgetting about red wine for a while.
I think it is one of those things where there’s just so many options for all the different seasons, right? And like you said, the more that come out and the more awareness there is around it, you know, it won’t just be beer and wine, it will be everything through the Monday range as well. And all of the other spirits that end up being bars, restaurants and pubs. So hopefully that all kind of comes about relatively soon. Yeah, they’ll all be spoilt for choice. It would be nice to have it all available. And as soon as possible. I think
we’re a little way away from that. But it is happening and it’s exciting that it’s happening. The one thing that bothers me is the sort of the like the low hanging fruit option. There’s a restaurant group in in Melbourne that before we went into lockdown have announced that they’re putting a full wine list on each of the however many venues, but they’re putting on McGuigan’s, and they’re just basic options.
So they’re going for the ones that have maybe the higher distribution, instead of doing I guess, the groundwork to actually find the bespoke ones. Yeah,
doing any research and putting something out that’s actually drinkable on Yeah.
that’s kind of the biggest thing, because you see so many companies who are getting into making it or getting into stocking it, and they’re like, we need to get into non elk. And then they’re getting to know now, but they’re actually doing themselves a disservice by getting into it without doing the 20 hours of research that it takes to actually identify what works that a successful story of a big brand doing. This is James Squire, they took the better part of two years to come to market. And if you look at what’s out there, you could consider them late. But by coming to market, 18 months to two years after it all kicked off. Like my review says it’s kind of the best in class or the class leading at the moment. So you’re right there is that perspective of instead of jumping at it straight away, you just take the time and actually find out what is good and stop that otherwise you’re going to be stuck with a whole lot of stuff. No one’s gonna want to drink.
Yeah, absolutely. The thing that bothers me is that if people are going out and having this non alcoholic experience, and they think that that’s it, they see like the tip of the iceberg, and they think that that’s it, they’re missing out and then give up or write off non alcohol is just being dreadful based on the glass and McGuigan’s that they had been out for dinner, and they’re missing out on so much good stuff. And that’s what grinds my gears a little bit about that. But you know, I shouldn’t complain because it’s positive that it’s happening. So it’s just not happening well enough.
It’s all moving, it’ll just take a little bit of time. And in terms of helping it along, if you leave people with a few pointers of how they could help move it along, you know, I know you’ve got the website, it might just be worth reiterating, or letting everyone know where they can find it all again, and how they can help move things along. Yeah, so
you can find me at dry but wet on Instagram or drybutwet.com.au there’s a whole portion of my website there called the squeaky wheel which is all about asking hospitality venues to stop nine out supporting nine out selling venues such as venue register, and you can enter in there you need to sign a petition and you just keep talking about it and be vocal and asking because if you build it, they will come
exactly right. That’s making sure that you’re asking in a way that you’re comfortable to ask whether that’s on the phone in venue or just hitting them off via socials and then just planting the seed. If nothing else, it is really something which is going to continue to grow and really develop in a way that we haven’t seen before, which is great. I’m really looking forward to it and hopefully it kind of takes off sooner rather than later.
Yeah, hopefully we can leave the house sooner rather than later.
You’re not wrong. I’m hanging out for that as well. But yeah, Amy, it’s been great to chat with you and really hear everything about the way dry but wet is taking off and learning about how it is working towards that kind of future where non alcoholic drinks are not only normal from like a culture perspective and like a general acceptance perspective, but also a normal where they belong alongside alcoholic drinks in pubs, bars and restaurants. Thanks for coming on. It’s been great to chat.
Thank you for having me.
Alrighty, that brings us to the end of another episode. I hope you found a lot of value in Amy’s approach to getting drinks into bars, pubs and restaurants and also the ways that she’s recommended that you can help out and do that as well. If you’re looking for any more information on the resources Amy touched on or a little bit more about her. You can find that over at triple zero.com forward slash session 08 and there you’ll find all the links to drive it wet and Amy’s socials as well. Now until next time, I hope you guys are discovering all of the new drinks because they are literally being released at a rate of knots at the moment. And until next time, enjoy and I’ll chat to you soon.