September 15, 2021

Craft Chats is our series of discussions with people who live and love non-alcoholic beer. This month, we spoke with Ryan Mikucki, Founder of Notwasted.ca- a curator of high quality non-alcoholic beer, spirits & more.


Tell us a little bit about yourself Ryan.

 My name is Ryan Mikucki and I reside in Calgary, Alberta (Canada). I moved to Calgary nearly 11 years ago from Winnipeg, Manitoba. It has been hard to leave the mountains ever since! I am a “traveller” at heart as I have been in the travel business for 14+ years now and I also co-own an online travel company. We market and sell all styles of trips worldwide – from tours to river cruises. I’ve been fortunate enough to have now travelled to over 60 countries. Although travel has picked up recently due to restored optimism, over the last year and a half international travel was simply non-existent. I’ve always been active and involved in various sports and adventure activities, but during this pause in travel it allowed me to focus on some of my passions like trail running, hiking, biking and the outdoors as a whole. With extra time on my hands, over the winter of 2020, I even completed a winter charity challenge in the outdoors where I raised nearly $4000 for Food Banks Canada, which was a rewarding experience. 

 Also, during this time it helped me discover the non-alcoholic beverage space. When my wife brought home some NA craft beer, I was immediately impressed with the flavour profiles compared to what used to be in the marketplace. I then researched, sampled, and decided to build an online retail store dedicated to featuring and selling high-quality no/low alcohol beverages. At the beginning of June 2021, I officially launched Not Wasted and the response has been outstanding.

Why did you decide to start Not Wasted? What has been your biggest surprise/challenge in starting up a non-alcoholic website? 

 Further to the above, education and the overall awareness within this no/low alcohol category was lacking and I wanted to change that while playing a big part in helping others live a more “balanced lifestyle”. This truly is a lifestyle movement and a cultural shift, and it is still very much in its infancy. 

 After recognizing the adverse effects of alcohol, as both an entrepreneur and an outdoor enthusiast, the decision was made to adjust my lifestyle. After exploring and tasting various non-alcoholic options available over the pandemic, it was apparent there was a misconception that non-alcoholic drinks did not taste good. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. The advancements and NA options available in the market today are growing rapidly worldwide! Also, there had been this fallacy that drinking non-alcoholic drinks wasn’t “cool” or that it had a stigma. But this has since changed. 

 It was clear to me that many individuals during the pandemic over-consumed alcohol. They began to realize how important their health was to them. We at Not Wasted advocate for a balanced lifestyle while focusing on the optimization of your health, happiness, time and productivity! Whether it is to take on a new day by heading up to the mountains for a hike or waking up fully prepared mentally for a Monday morning meeting - whatever the scenario is you have the ability to take full control your life, more clearly and confidently, while not having the taste of these “adult beverages” you like compromised. As adults, we have more priorities and responsibilities in our day-to-day schedules. Not Wasted’s purpose is to help others break that habit of drinking too much – whether to help abstain completely or to assist in drinking in moderation so they do not waste their mornings, days, and nights. Simply, life is to be enjoyed...not wasted.

 There have been several surprises and challenges in starting an ecommerce non-alcoholic website. In terms of surprises, the response has been far better than I anticipated and to instantly receive many orders from outside my network was quite gratifying. Shipping orders across the country, from coast to coast, was not expected either! It has been exciting to see a multitude of orders from the same individuals and learning that they love the collection and taste of these NA options, along with how they can incorporate more non-alcoholic beverages into their lifestyle. This has helped them reduce their drinking behaviours. 

Now challenges – let’s just say shipping heavy products poses as a challenge and this is something we continue to navigate. But other ideas are in place to streamline this and to help reduce shipping costs for others outside of Calgary (and Alberta).

What has been the best part? 

There are many! Witnessing the evolvement within this category in a short time has been great to see. More and more brands continue to pop up and I’ve become obsessed in sourcing new product options for customers. Seeing the positive responses from various demographics that have placed orders has been exciting and more encouraging than expected. Learning from customers that these NA drinks are not only conducive to a social setting, but also that they don’t always need alcohol to have a good time. And lastly, I would say it has been great to see the interest from individuals, companies and media wanting to collaborate with Not Wasted.

 How has the last year been for Not Wasted? Are you seeing growth?

 Not Wasted officially launched June 1, 2021 with an overwhelming response. Nearly three months in, the demand and orders continue to pour in. There is a term within this category, “sober-curious” and many are jumping on this bandwagon, after simply trying these non-alcoholic beverages and being surprised with the delicious taste. The increased accessibility and the education behind this NA category continues to grow which in turn will inspire others to drink these NA beverages.

Do you drink NA beer? If yes, Why? 

 I sure do! The NA beer flavour profiles have changed dramatically over the last couple years and the brands are “cool” as I alluded to. I’ve replaced my favourite alcoholic beers with various NA beers for not only the incredible taste and the low calories, but also because of the various benefits. No hangover, no brain fog, and more energy in turn allows for increased productivity – hence a key concept of Not Wasted

What are your favourite styles of NA beer? Do you have 1 favourite? 

 I do enjoy various styles and it really depends on the occasion or the environment that I’m in. IPA’s, Lager’s and Pale Ale’s are my go-to’s, but I do also like the odd sour beer.

I have a top 5 list of favourite beers, but I have to say Libra’s new Hazy IPA has been one of the more impressive NA beers I’ve had to date. Great work Libra!

Why do you think people are choosing to drink less alcohol?

There are numerous reasons that people are choosing to drink less alcohol; some I mentioned previously. Everyone may have a different reason, but one of the more apparent reasons is that the flavours have changed significantly. Now you can drink an NA craft beer that tastes like a real craft beer, without the negative effects that alcohol has! The NA culture as a whole is growing…the brands, the labels, and what these companies stand for are making an impact on consumers. The calories are low, which is a bonus for those who are concerned about their overall calorie intake. Health is a number one priority for many people especially given the last 15+ months! Drinking too much alcohol can impact oneself in many ways, where non-alcoholic beverages promote better sleep and reduce anxiety. Many individuals are also choosing to reduce or abstain from alcohol due to personal health reasons. Athletes, career-focused individuals, pregnant women (with some limitations) to even new parents are consuming NA drinks as they have even greater responsibilities. And the list goes on…

Is there anything else you’d like to mention?

I’m looking forward to continuing to build a strong partnership with Libra, and for this no/low alcohol category to expand further. With more and more NA options available, it is rewarding to learn that after people try these no/low alcohol beverage options that their minds are absolutely blown away by the flavour. For those that haven’t tried NA beer or any NA beverage option, produced in this new “era” I like to call it, I strongly recommend you give it a try and to see how you can implement it into your lifestyle – it’s all about balance. We have Libra’s North Pale Ale and Hazy IPA waiting for you to try!

Not Wasted has many great benefits, with a diverse product line of high-quality options. Visit our website at https://www.notwasted.ca/ and sign up to our newsletter to be in the know! And follow us on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/notwasted.ca/ 

Cheers!

Huge thanks to Ryan for taking the time to talk with us! Find Libra online at notwasted.ca today!