In today’s Behind the Biz interview I’m chatting with Faye Solemani, co-founder of Ticket Ale – saffron-infused non-alcoholic beer.
I’m really excited to share the story behind Ticket Ale with you and hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did. My Persian background means I’m a big fan of saffron and can’t wait to give Ticket Ale a try.
Let’s set the scene
Ticket is we believe the World’s 1st saffron and lavender-enriched pale ale. Based on a popular non-alcoholic beverage from Persia (pre-Iran revolution) Ticket provides the perfect blend of enticing World Cuisine meets artisanal British beer production; a proud, small batch offering made at one of the North’s leading craft breweries.
Latest estimates suggest that the UK’s Low/No Drinks category is worth £235m and enjoying annual double-digit growth (an astounding +506% hike since 2015)
The Low/No drinks scene is truly vibrant, one of the most dynamic food & drinks categories that is tapping into a blossoming #sobercurious movement. With amazing low alcoholic beer pioneers like Lucky Saint and Big Drop leading the way, there is now scope for more speciality ales that pair effortlessly with your favourite foods to find their voice.
A recent Portman Group study suggested that ¼ of all British Drinkers are keen to curtail/reduce their alcoholic intake (including 1/3rd of all 18-24 year olds).
Tell us about the Ticket Ale experience
In this instance I’d like to defer to a recent independent taste review carried out by our esteemed friends at Alcohol Change
‘After tasting (literally) hundreds of alcohol-free drinks for this website, we’ve come to one conclusion: if you’re going to make a beer with no alcohol, it needs something else to make it memorable. This Ticket pale ale certainly has that. Uniquely (we think) it’s made with saffron and lavender.
It comes in a great looking bottle: in purple and gold with a swirling pattern like electromagnetic waves. The saffron gives the beer a striking yellow hue like no other. There are plenty of citrusy hops and the lavender adds extra floral notes. It may be a bit too much if you’re looking for a straightforward light beer – it’s definitely one for those who appreciate a flavour-packed pale ale.’
What made you decide to set up Ticket Ale?
Ticket was born in December 2021 yet another by-product of the all-consuming pandemic. Like so many others we found that our holiday plans to Thailand were turned on their head as our last minute break was suspended.
This was the moment that we grabbed the nettle and decided that our work/life make-up needed a reboot. We wanted to actively embrace less commuting, more working from home and most importantly immersing ourselves in a family project that really called out to us.
Ali and I had both spent extensive periods of time within the corporate machine and felt now was the moment to unleash our entrepreneurial aspirations.
Ali concurs, ‘Faye is right my extensive background in low/no beer meant that I was ahead of the curve when it came to carving out a distinct low/no beer niche in the UK. Most alcohol-free beers come in a lager style. The Germans & Dutch initiated the Low/No movement so I saw an opening to create something a little more gourmet and niche.
Why did you pick saffron?
Saffron is the Harley Davidson of spices, best-in-class, not cheap and jam-packed with foodie intrigue. Saffron is a ‘big flavour’ and certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, which is fine as mass market was never our vision. Saffron’s inclusion was as much about created a unique functional brew as it was owning a deliciously distinct flavour. Saffron has a proud reputation for boosting mood, improving memory and enhancing libido. Notable saffron anti-oxidants include crocin, safranal and crocetin which protect against oxidative stress, protect against brain cell degradation and help reduce appetite.
Lavender for its part has a long-standing reputation for aiding sleep and tackling asthma!
Did the COVID19 lockdowns play a part Ticket’s emergence?
Absolutely central – it’s time of hardship that creativity and entrepreneurship truly blossoms!
Please share some brands you admire with us
Beavertown: love everything about this amazing brand from the range and the branding to the quirky, off-the-wall comms.
Onken: their commitment to simplicity & common sense – life needn’t be complicated
Ben & Jerry’s: Quite simply the best ice cream and the best wider vision in ice cream
What can we expect to see from Ticket?
We plan to work with a mixologist and use our ale as a backdrop for our cocktails and mocktails due to its distinct aroma, taste and hue. We see luxury hotels, Business class travel and classy hampers as priority destinations for our distinct brand.
What’s coming in 2023?
A like-minded lager seems a sensible next step
Please share a business high and low with us
High: Seeing our packaging come to life was a proud family business moment
Low: Recognising that saffron isn’t for everyone but those who like it adore it!
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Don’t waste time doing anything you don’t truly believe. Life is too short to settle for alright!
Thank you so much to Faye Solemani for taking the time to share the story of Ticket Ale with us. I can’t wait to get my hands on a bottle.