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'Hard to keep in stock': Non-alcoholic beer and cocktails creating buzz on Vancouver Island

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They’ve been pulling plenty of pints of non-alcoholic beer at Oak Bay’s Penny Farthing pub since they started carrying it this past December.

"We’ve actually been blown away by the reception – really hard to keep it in stock," said Daniel Lyder, one of the pub’s managers, on Tuesday.

The beer served there is made by Phillips Brewing. The Victoria brewery started selling it back in 2021.

"Non-alcoholic beer has seen a quite significant growth in the past two years," said Samantha Beck, who’s in charge of marketing for Phillips.

Meanwhile at Wind Cries Mary restaurant in Victoria, they serve up multiple non-alcoholic cocktails and "mocktails" for a clientele increasingly thirsty for non-boozy beverages.

"We’ve just see the demand growing in the past 2.5 to three years with people looking for alternate drinking options," said the restaurant's general manager, Clayton Thornber.

A report released this winter hammered home the potential harms of imbibing, advising Canadians that anything more than two drinks a week poses a moderate health risk, including for various types of cancer.

Dr. Tim Stockwell works as a scientist with the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research. He’s one of the authors of the report and thinks it might be impacting folks' drinking habits.

"I think it has sort of resonated with an increasing sense that we have to be careful of what we put in our bodies," said Stockwell on Tuesday.

Mike Manhas is a South Island man who seems to have tapped into a growing shift amongst young people not drinking alcohol as much as previous generations.

He organized the hugely successful SoberFest last summer, a music and comedy festival that didn't serve alcohol. It attracted hundreds of attendees and raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support free addictions treatment beds.

"I think the recovery community is growing, but I also think the younger generation is learning they don’t have to drink to have fun or be themselves," said Manhas on Tuesday, referring to a cultural shift that's creating its own buzz.  

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