Big Drop collaborates on low-alcohol beers with big taste

Big Drop collab beer

Big Drop Brewing Co is proving yet again that low- and no-alcohol beer can be tasty with its latest release – a limited-edition range in collaboration with some of Britain’s best craft breweries.

Led by beer expert Melissa Cole and the Suffolk company’s master brewer Johnny Clayton, the project brought together Fyne Ales from Argyll, Salt from West Yorkshire, Harbour Brewing Co from Cornwall and Fourpure from London. The beers, all at 0.5% ABV or lower, are now available in 440ml cans in packs of four, with Big Drop already planning further collaborations.

At a breakfast beer tasting at Caravan in King’s Cross in London, the star brew was the golden L’il IPL, India Pale Lager, created in collaboration with Salt. With a surprisingly good body for a low-alcohol beer, it combines the malty backbone of a Helles with the zesty, citrus character of New Zealand’s Motueka hops which are found in many of today’s popular IPAs.

With Harbour Brewing Co, Big Drop has created the sweet and floral Going Swimmingly Hibiscus Saison, made with hibiscus flowers, juniper, coriander seed and pink peppercorns which work together to give it a hint of tartness balanced with spicy and herbal notes. Using Sorachi Ace hops, it is lighter and blush pink in colour with a taste profile that would appeal to fans of lighter beers.

The fruity Jam Session Raspberry Gose was created with Fyne Ales, using natural raspberry flavouring and other ingredients that created a flavour that is lightly tart with under-ripe berries and freshly harvested wheat, topped off with a savoury finish from natural sea salt. Pale straw in appearance, it has aromas of sour berries, rhubarb and raspberry jam.

The fourth brew, created with Fourpure, is Big River, a Black IPA, which has tempting aromas of chocolate and coffee with a hint of oak woodiness and pineapple. As black as the blackest stout, it is lighter in taste but full of flavour, hop forward with a hint of chocolate and roast coffee before a lingering, clean bitter finish.

The tasting notes were provided by Melissa who also came up with food pairing ideas for the event at Caravan. Hot smoked salmon and scrambled egg with sourdough toast complemented the L’il IPA as well as Big Drop’s own Citra IPA, while the Raspberry Gose and Big Drop Stout were matched with fried jalapeno cornbread, fried egg, avocado, chipotle mayonnaise, green chilli and optional chorizo.

To go with the Hibiscus Saison, and Big Drop’s Sour beer, Caravan served Montgomery’s Cheddar, kimchi, sweet soy, radish, sesame and sourdough bread. For the Black IPA and Big Drop’s Brown Ale, the food pairing was buttermilk vanilla hotcakes with almond-sunflower seed butter, berry jam, Greek yoghurt and strawberries.

Big Drop was set up three years ago exclusively to make high-quality, tasty beers of 0.5% ABV or less without using artificial extraction of alcohol, vacuum distillation or reverse osmosis. 

Co-founder Rob Fink said: “Since we launched in 2016, not only have we wanted to make delicious alcohol-free craft beer but we wanted to be at the forefront of making low and no drinks interesting and innovative.

“It is important for us to change perceptions that some may hold of alcohol-free beer being without character, or that it’s made without the depth of care and skill that goes into making a full-strength craft beer. If anything, you need more skill to make a great alcohol-free craft beer. 

“We’re excited to not only be collaborating with a range of craft brewers here in the UK but we are planning a series of these projects to work with brewers from around the world.

“Big Drop has recently launched in Canada, Sweden and Norway so on our visits we’ve been in talks with some incredible brewers in those countries. Watch this space!”

Melissa, who brought the breweries together and helped develop the recipes, said of the project: “It’s tough to create firsts in such a busy and innovative market as beer but, as far as I’m aware, this is the first-ever collaborative alcohol-free four pack.

“I’m also just so pleased with how all the beers turned out and I hope it helps people rethink alcohol-free beer as less a necessary evil when they are driving or deciding not to drink for whatever reason and instead look on them as a genuinely tasty choice.”

Big Drop’s Global Collab Series #1 has a recommended price in retail of £12 for 4 x 440ml cans and is available from Beer Hawk, Bottle Apostle and

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