Paddy Gower Has Issues: Karen O'Leary creates zero-alcohol beer alternative in protest over high prices

  • 25/10/2023

Karen O'Leary has created her very own beer-flavoured drink to combat the high price of zero-alcohol drink options.    

ZERO'LEARY is available now for a very limited time from Six Barrel Soda.   

The story started with an email from Murray "Muzza" Linnell of Hawke's Bay, who loves the taste of beer but has an issue with the cost of zero-alcohol options.

"What I can't understand is it's the same price, or nearly the same price, as a standard heavy-duty beer."  

Karen sat down with her new best friend to discuss the pros and cons of the two beverage options.    

"You find that when you drink zeros, you're actually visiting the loo quite a bit, compared to a standard beer," Muzza shares.   

And what about the side effects of full-strength beers?   

"Nudity is something that always comes from drinking too much anything," Muzza overshares.   

Karen then conducts what could be the first-ever scientific pub crawl on the streets of Napier and discovers that every day, Kiwis agree that zero-alcohol options should be cheaper.   

"The price should match the percentage on the bottle," one punter suggests.   

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Karen decides the best course of action is to go to the source of the sauce, so she visits two of Aotearoa's leading names in the area.  

Talking to the Director of Winemaking for Geisen Wines - who are the largest producers of premium non-alcoholic wines in NZ, Australia and the US - Karen learns it's actually more expensive to make zero-alcohol wines than full-strength ones.    

"You've got to make the wine in the first instance, then you've got to use really, really expensive technology to remove the alcohol," explains Duncan Shouler.  

Having learned about wine, Karen heads to Garage Project Brewery in Wellington to find out why full-strength and zero-alcohol beer are the same price.   

"They're not," says head brewer Pete Gillespie. "We pay excise on the alcohol, and about 20 percent of the price is tax. So we've taken that tax off (our non-alcoholic beer)."   

Garage Project's zero alcohol options still cost the same to produce as full strength, so the price stays the same minus 20 percent for tax.    

Having answered Muzza's original question of 'why', Karen wants to go above and beyond - so she decides to create her own low-cost, zero-alcohol option by teaming up with Six Barrel Soda.    

The intrepid investigator joined co-founder Joe Slater for a day in the kitchen to create a brand-new beer-flavoured syrup that people can enjoy in their own homes.    

Dubbed ZERO'LEARY, the happy and hoppy mixture has been made available to purchase from Six Barrel Soda's website - with $1 of every sale going to the charity InsideOUT, who work with rainbow communities in schools.   

Find ZERO'LEARY here.   

If you have an issue you would like Karen to tackle, email her at

Patrick Gower hosts Paddy Gower Has Issues - watch it on Three or ThreeNow.