Back to Big Drop Brewing
I wrote about Big Drop Brewing back in April when I was pregnant. Now I have no ‘need’ to drink alcohol free beer, but I’m finding it remains a handy thing to keep in the house when I fancy something dry, with flavour, but without alcohol. I discussed the conspicuous absence of alcohol free beer at this year’s CAMRA Great British Beer Festival a month ago as well. I was surprised that much of the comment around that article focused on the CAMRA executive and volunteers rather than tackling the issue of providing low and no alcohol options, which to me is a far bigger question for CAMRA to address in the current climate.
Now Big Drop Brewing Company has released a re-vamped version of the 0.5% lager – with more flavour, Vegan Society certification and gluten-free certification from the Coeliac Society. They sent me some samples to try it for myself. I have to say the lager is much improved, although I already enjoyed it. The ingredients list includes oats, rye and wheat. I feel there is more of a textural element than there was previously, reminiscient of a Helles but without the sweetness. I liked the fact that the flavours are stronger. It is more interesting than your commercial lager, and you can happily go along with their label of ‘craft’ lager.
Big Drop Brewing’s technique is to reach full fermentation at 0.5%. This removes the need for any process of alcohol extraction from the beer. I think this shows as flavour and body do not suffer noticeably as with other low alcohol products.
I do prefer the canned lager to the bottles. This appears to be something of a pattern for me. Some of my favourite low alcohol lagers are in cans – such as Pistonhead Flat Tire and even the Budweiser Prohibition. Meanwhile, bottled pale ales seem to be the best expressions of the style. I particularly like the Adnam’s Ghost Ship and the Big Drop Citra. I can’t quite put my finger on the differences but I did enjoy the lager more in cans.
The potential futures of alcohol free
I think this is a bandwagon that will not go away. Thankfully this means that a lot of money is being spent on product development. As consumers we are benefitting from considerably more palatable offerings. That said, I think the pub industry has a long way to go to make these options more appealing by putting a reasonable pricing structure in place. I’ve been in bars where a bottle of alcohol free beer costs more than a pint of ale.
The sums just don’t add up to me. I also think that the overpricing of bog standard soft drinks in licensed premises – especially post-mix fizzy drinks and plain fruit juice served from cartons – is something that should be better addressed in the interests of public health. For me, this would be more effective than minimum alcohol pricing laws. Clearly there are good margins to be made very easily from soft drinks (including low and alcohol free beer) but addressing soft drink pricing would not affect government income from duty and excise. I would venture to suggest that this could be more palatable in the thrones of power.
What say you? Do you find alcohol free and low alcohol beers to be a useful alternative to regular beer – or to other soft drinks?
Big Drop Brewing sent me their product samples without charge. As usual my opinions are my unbiased response to the product tasted.