I hope you’re all having a good start to the week.
I’m finally back with a fresh Behind the Biz interview.
Today we’re diving back into the world of food and drink but more specifically, alcohol-free beer.
I chat with Chris Hannaway, the co-founder of Infinite Session. Together with his brother Tom they’ve taken the alcohol-free sector by storm.
In their own words:
“We make beer for when you choose not to booze. Whether it’s for life or a day, frankly it’s none of our business. We don’t need a reason, neither do you.”
What inspired you to start Infinite Session?
Tom and I are brothers that love beer. We both moved to London seven or eight years ago and feel like we went on a journey with beer as it has developed in the city – our eyes were really opened up by the increasingly huge variety and quality on offer.
As much as we love going out or trying new beers at home, we’ve also got a lot to do. We started trying different alcohol-free beers when we realised they could be a great option for those midweek nights. When we wanted something great tasting, light on sugar but without booze.
How did you approach your first stockist?
We launched last year at Craft Beer Rising, the biggest craft beer show in the UK, held in London. We were lucky to be approached by a number of shops and distributors, one of whom was Tesco! Most of our very first customers were specialist retailers or online stores and then, six months later, we launched into Tesco.
How do you see the market for non-alcoholic drinks evolving over the coming years?
Quality and consistency of the beer will continue to improve, which is great news for beer drinkers. I think as a result, we’ll continue to see more alcohol-drinkers try AF beers and see them as a viable midweek option – I think the growth we’re seeing at the moment is just the start.
Please share a business high and low with us.
A high was definitely tasting our first full brew and being happy with the result. Beer, particularly alcohol-free, is so technical that it can be a tricky one to develop on a small scale. Thankfully a lot of our research and ideas paid off!
Many a low, but you really just have to accept them as part of day-to-day life and keep on going. We’ve had pallets of beer lost by Amazon, many broken bottles and parcels and the odd batch of beer that have gone wrong that we’ve had to ditch.
What did you do before starting Infinite Session?
I started a business called Overly, a sports drink made with natural ingredients.
Did you always plan to set up your own business?
I think it was in the offing ever since I sold sweets at school and lemonade to the neighbours.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs in the drinks industry?
Pick a category or product you really love (that should be obvious). Pick something that’s a big category and an idea that passes “the granny test” (i.e. is easy enough to explain to your granny very quickly) – trust me this will save you lots of frustrating conversations down the line too. Logistics is more important than strategy. Big volume is important for most drinks businesses to survive, so pick something that has a distribution channel that can allow you to go big!
Where do you hope to take your business in the year ahead?
Our focus is always on improving our core beers – our pilsner, pale ale and IPAs. We’re always looking to take the recipe and the way we brew to another level. We want to do more fun things from a marketing perspective, in the way we tell our story and talk about how we’re different. Finally, we’ve had a few approaches from importers in other countries, so look out for Infinite Session travelling far and wide!
You can take a closer look at Infinite Session on their site, buy a few cans at M&S, Tesco, Whole Foods, Sainsbury’s and Amazon. Don’t forget to support the biz by following them on Instagram Facebook and Twitter.
I want to say a big thank you to Chris for taking the time to be part of Behind the Biz. I really enjoyed hearing about his business journey with Infinite Session and I hope you did to.
Chris gives valuable advice for aspiring entrepreneurs. It’s important to pick something you love, keep it simple and ensure it’s easy to explain. Scroll back up and have another read of what he said.
On a personal note, I’ve really been into trying new alcoholic free drinks over the last few months. I’m having the odd alcoholic drink here and there but as I’m still breastfeeding Xander I’d prefer to opt for alcohol-free drinks. Chris kindly sent through the Infinite Session collection and I can’t wait to try them this week. Keep an eye out for my review.