As the world becomes more health conscious, sales of beers worldwide are on the decline, yet behind the stats, the low & alcohol-free beer industry is bubbling, attracting major brands such as Heineken & Asahi amongst many others.
Commercial People caught up with the award-winning craft brewer ‘Big Drop’ to see how business is booming for independent companies willing to find their niche.
Founded in 2016, by former city lawyer Rob Fink, Big Drop is making a big impact on the alcohol-free beer industry.
As a lawyer, Rob Fink would often wine & dine clients, but upon having his first son in August 2014, the would-be entrepreneur quickly realised that the “long boozy lunches” would have to change.
“After I had my son I stopped drinking for 6-7 months as it was pretty hard to go out with clients and also come home to change nappies throughout the night.
“During these dry periods, I realised that the choice of alcohol-free beer in the UK was pretty appalling, especially when compared to the long list of craft beers that most pubs had on offer.”
It was then that Rob had his lightbulb moment: “I asked, why is alcoholic beer being revolutionised but the alcohol-free beer industry is not? After finding no suitable answer, I realised there was a gap in the market for actually good-tasting alcohol-free beer. ”
Big Drop launched its award-winning Stout in November of 2016 after consultant brewer Johnny Clayton accepted the challenge to create a great tasting chocolate stout at 0.5%.
Driven by sleek & understated marketing as well as a great tasting product, Big Drop has gone from strength to strength, winning the Speciality Food Innovation Awards as well as Gold & Silver medals at the World Beer Awards last year.
Already stocked in London’s Michelin Star Cantonese restaurant Hakasan, & the prestigious Fortun & Mason, Big Drop was also shortlisted for this year’s BBC Food & Farming ‘Best Drinks Producer’ awards.
A lot has changed in a short span of time for Big Drop, from producing just 800 litres to now hitting an impressive 40,000 litres a month, the tremendous growth even caught Rob by surprise.
“While I was always confident there was a market for alcohol-free beer, where we got lucky was the advent of ‘Mindful Drinking’ and the masive upswing in the consumption of alcohol-free beer.
Alcohol-free & low-alcohol beer has been around for several decades, yet its popularity never really took off amongst drinkers, and remained on the fringes until recently.
Over half of the beer produced by Big Drop is for export, with the 0.5% abv also proving popular in Finland, Sweeden, Canada & the Netherlands.
Not one for resting on his laurels, Rob intends to bring the brand to Australia in the coming months and has just signed a deal with one of the UK’s Big Four supermarkets.
Welcoming the ‘brilliant’ challenge ahead, the former lawyer stated: “While I want to lead the way in innovation of alcohol-free beer, I don’t want to be the only one in town. What I want to be is the ‘thought leader’ in this sector, and carry on innovating in styles & flavours – I welcome the challenge, it’s brilliant.