Tag Archive: Big Drop


Big Drop: Waterslide IPA (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale clear gold. Moderate sized off white head that leaves suds. Reasonable amount of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Gooseberry. Cake sponge. Sponge hop character. Gentle bitterness. Sweet lime touch. Apricot touch.

Body: Prickly. Moderate bitterness. Kiwi. High hop character. Light greenery. Grapefruit. Very soft toffee. Fresh sour dough.

Finish: Good bitterness. Prickly hop character. Kiwi. Slight charring. Mild gooseberries. Gunpowder tea. Grapefruit.

Conclusion: This is a nicely bracing, quite clean bodied yet bitter IPA that is matched by some subtly used tart fruit notes. There is quite the wake up call from this low alcohol beer!

It is very prickly. The bitterness has a nice presence but that prickly hope character is what really defines it. Little needles of joy prickling into your tongue. They are closely linked with the bitterness, but separate enough that I considered it worth emphasising.

Now if that was all that was there it could get wearing or even overly harsh, especially in a low abv beer where the malt isn’t really there to balance it. So, with that in mind I am very glad for the gentle gooseberry and grapefruit fresh release. It is subtly done but brings a lovely tingling freshness, not quite mouth cleaning feel but has that air of tartness which, when combined to the bitterness, is why I call it a wake up call of a beer as it kicks that out at you.

There is a gentle touch of apricot as a high note in the aroma but unfortunately it never really comes out in the main body. Instead we get a balancing kiwi note that gives a solid middle around which the lighter flavours and hop prickle can dance – a core to the beer that allows everything else to work.

This is a lovely IPA that balances bitterness, freshness, gentle edges and prickly kick. Definitely a hit with me. Heck, despite being a low abv beer as it is, it comes closer to my taste in IPAs that a lot of the modern full alcohol IPAs!

Background: Another Big Drop seasonal release – this one for the Summer Season. The seasonal releases tend to be where I find the ones I really enjoy in their range, where they put out that tad higher quality – so I hope the same happens here. Coming in at 60 IBU they describe it as a “Southern Hemisphere & New World hop powerhouse”. This was grabbed from Beercraft as I once again raided their low alcohol selection. Went back to Laura Jane Grace’s recent release At War With The Silverfish for background music, it is a fairly short album but fits a gentle drinking session well.

Big Drop: Field Hopper Golden Ale (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow gold. Thin white head.

Nose: Fluffy hop character. Orange skin. Vanilla. White bread.

Body: Slightly chalky. Light crusty white bread. Some bitterness, which grows in scale quickly. Slightly musty. Light orange zest. Vanilla. Quite dry.

Finish: Some bitterness and hop prickle. Hop bitterness rises quickly. Lemon and orange notes. Dry cake sponge.

Conclusion: I’m on the fence about this one, it flits between a decent golden ale, and a fairly rubbish beer, and I’ve yet to settle on which side of it dominates enough for me to make a call. So, let’s examine it and see where this takes us.

Let’s start with the best side of it. This has a good hop character, bitter and very much showing itself in a golden ale style which is recognisably different from other IPA or Bitter low abv beers. It has the refreshing prickling character, slightly dry but with good bitterness that can kick out at you.

Behind that hop kick is a reasonably evident citrus orange and lemon set of notes that again call to the quintessential golden ale style.

It is always pretty dry, a tad more than I would expect from a golden ale, which can already be a quite dry style in some expressions, but not generally terribly so. The extra dryness is probably a tell of the low abv and lower malt, but apart from that there aren’t many low alcohol give away elements.

That dryness , while not bad in itself, can be the gateway to the weaker side of this beer though. Sometimes the beer can feel like it isn’t putting enough weight against the bitterness, and comes across harsh and quiet chalky which hurts the beer and hides most of the lighter citrus elements of the beer. The beer can come across quite empty like this, with just the rough edges pushing through the quiet.

This rough style happens more early on – I didn’t overly chill the beer so I don’t think it was from that. Maybe I just acclimatised to the bitterness, or maybe it just benefits from some time to air, but it is definitely more friendly in the later half of the beer.

With that I’m going to lean towards this being generally good, but with weak moments early on. When it is off it is a pain, but it spends more time as a reasonable if not exceptional golden ale. So, not bad, but could probably do with a few tweaks in the recipe and brewing to get it right.

Background: Big Drop were one of the first low abv brewers that made me think that there was a genuine future for good low abv beers. Over the years they have had hits and misses, but generally always happy to check them out. So when I saw this one I had not tried when I put in my light drinks order, I threw in a bottle to see how it was. Went back to Bikini Kill – The First Two Records collection for backing music as I’ve been on a bit of a punk kick recently again.

Big Drop: Wildtrack APA (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellowed clear body. Some small bubbled carbonation. Moderate grey white head.

Nose: Bread dough and flour. Slightly bitter. Mild sulphur. Cake sponge.

Body: Bitter. Dry. Peppery. Slight charred. Light lime.

Finish: Bitter. Sulphur. Flour. Peppery. Slightly charred.

Conclusion: Ok, just some musings before I get deep into the notes here. As you may have noticed from a lot of my comments recently that I am a huge fan of West Coast IPAs. I like them as they are slightly dry, with out of the way malt, and are nicely to super bitter and hoppy. So, why is it I dislike a lot of APAs for being too dry, bitter and with no malt offset? You would think that they would be my jam. Now there is a difference between how those elements are expressed that explains why I like one and dislike the other, but it does seem odd when you write it down.

The APA will never be my go to beer in general I guess. Though individual APAs have been amazing over the years. This beer in particular isn’t going to be the one to break the trend, though I will admit I am going back and forth on is it actually ok despite that. Not good, but maybe ok.

At its best it has a cake sponge touch, good amounts of bitterness. There is nothing special but at its best it hits the beer bitterness spot for me and that does the job.

At its worst it feels charred and peppery, with a sticky flour like mouthfeel that means the bitterness grabs to your tongue for too long in an unpleasant fashion.

these two extremes are somehow both the same beer. After balancing out the two I’m going to lean towards the “It doesn’t quite work for me” side of things. It is too gritty, too dry and empty for the bitterness to feel like it has something to work with. However, I will give it that it has hints that it can do better in there.

There are other Big Drop beers that started fairly weak, but have improved over time – I presume as they tweak the recipe and brewing process. I hope they do some more work here, as there are hints of something better they could do here with a lot of work. As it is currently though it spends too much time on the unpleasant side of things for me to recommend it.

Background: You may have noticed I have done a lot of low abv beers over this whole covid thing. Trying to vaguely take care of myself to offset how unhealthy in general I am being. Though in good news there is such a wealth of low alcohol beers coming out these days I am spoiled for choice. Big drop have been pretty good in general, though less reliably so than in their early days. Guess it is the risk of trying to do a range of stuff. Another one from Independent Spirit. Had the utterly lovely SOPHIE – Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides as music to help me relax as I drink.

Big Drop: Coba Maya Cerveza (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Very light pale yellow body with a moderate sized white head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation evident early on.

Nose: Lemon. Wheat flakes. General wet air.

Body: Wheaty. Light bitterness. Sour dough. Slight lemon. Slight pepper.

Finish: Wet cardboard. Muggy bitterness. Soft lime. Slightly peppery. Slight chalk.

Conclusion: Well, this is, erm, a beer. I’m going with a controversial hot take here, I know. I mean, it does describe itself as a “Lawnmower beer” so I wasn’t expecting huge weight or range of flavour, but I was expecting to have something that I could describe with more words than just “Inoffensive”

Yes I know I have already used more words that that, you get the gist though.

Though since it is inoffensive, I can say that it is better than the standard Big Drop Lager, for one thing it tastes like a lager. Which is nice. There isn’t even much in the way of tells giving away that this is low abv – mainly just the lighter mouthfeel, and let’s face it, generally lagers tend not to be that heavy things anyway.

It feels slightly wheaty, slightly peppery and bitter, which gives it a touch of much needed weight, though not much – and then on the lighter end there is a soft lemon and lime to it. Nice enough, so I definitely don’t hate this. It is just, well, kind of just there. Feels like a slightly wheated lager and that is mostly it. Not rewarding, not bad, just there.

It is light, but that wheaty feel does give grip (Note I am aware that wheat is one of the few adjuncts NOT used to make this beer, I am just describing how it feels to me) . Very simple in the flavour profile, but, despite the low abv it tastes like a lager. It does the job.

Nothing really to talk about, as I say it is just there. No complaint. No compliment.

Writing about such average beers is actually harder that writing about bad beer. I have very little to say.

It is a low alcohol lager that exists.

Background: Another Big Drop lager, I’m not a fan of their standard lager, so was hoping that this could take its place. Generally I rate Big Drop, they have done a wonderful range of low alcohol beers. This is described as a “lawnmower-style lager” by Big Drop, and they advise to stick a slice of lime in it “Cerveza-style”. I did not stick a lime in it. However I will not judge you if you do, enjoy beer as you like it. I have no idea if sticking a lime in it even is “Cerveza-style”. People have been lying to me about sticking fruit in hefeweizen being traditional for years and it has left me skeptical. Anyway, another beer grabbed from Independent Spirit– they had got quite the batch of new Big Drop beers in. Went with Sabaton: Heroes as backing music, felt the need for some big metal and Sabaton always provides.

Big Drop: Paria: Tailwind IPA (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear yellow gold. Some small bubbled carbonation. Large mounded white head.

Nose: Lemon cakes and lemon grass. Bubblegum. Raspberry yogurt hard chunks. Cake sponge and icing. White crusty bread. Crisp hop character. Low bitterness.

Body: Bready. Moderate bitterness. Biscuity. Crushed digestives. Lemongrass. Lemon cakes. Gentle. Light lime.

Finish: Oats. Medium gritty bitterness. Peppery. Lemongrass. Grapefruit. Iced tea.

Conclusion: Ok, so it seems no Sorachi Ace hops was used in making this. I am very surprised. With the evident lemongrass and bubblegum notes I could have sworn some Sorachi had been used to make this.

Which shows that, even after ten years plus of doing these notes, I can still be completely wrong. Keeps a person humble.

Anyway, this is a gentle and drinkable IPA, easygoing at the start but with but a bit of a prickle and a decent bitterness at the end to make sure you know it is an IPA.

The aroma opens up very gentle, with lemon cakes and cake sponge – gently bready and easy going citrus. Very much lead me to expects something very light.

The body slowly builds from that, very biscuity giving it a gently more robust character – it reminds me more of an APA than an IPA in how it expresses the malt, but very drinkable with that. That lemongrass, slight citrus style note is still around, but with a hint of more bitter hops character that will eventually lead out into the aforementioned moderately bitter finish.

It is a mix of summer refresher, bitter IPA and low alcohol. Though I will admit the low alcohol character is very well hidden here with none of the usual iced tea or sports drinks like notes for the most part. Even where there is a hint in the tail end of the beer they tie it well with the rest of the character so it is easy to overlook.

This fits our current burst of hot weather nicely, can be taken as an easy drinking refresher but has enough notes to examine. I’m a fan of this gentle, sessionable IPA.

Background: Another seasonal release from Big Drop, pretty much the current low alcohol masters in my opinion. This one a collaboration with Paria, who I have not heard of before, look to be an American based brewery unless there is more than one Paria brewing. Which is possible. Brewed with Chinook, Cascade and Willamette hops, so looks to be a fairly traditional hop load here. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. A friend had been recommending The Replacements to me recently, so was listening to their “Stink” EP while drinking. Their music style seems to change massively over the years so will have to listen more to see what they are like.

Big Drop: Fat Lizard: Rye’d Said Fred: Juniper Rye IPA (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Slightly amber touched gold. Clear main body with not much evident carbonation, but a very large mounded off white head.

Nose: Rye crackers. Slightly watery. Peppery. Musty. Subtle peach.

Body: Grapefruit. Muggy bitterness. Brown bread. Slightly watery. Lemon cakes. Soft vanilla. Cream. Juniper.

Finish: Lemon sorbet. Sour dough. Peppery. Clinging hop feel. Some bitterness. Juniper berries. Smoke wisp.

Conclusion: This is an interesting mix. Initially it came across a tad watery when it was chilled down, but warming up up allowed it to open up in aroma and flavours, and also thicken up in body.

On the nose it is fairly rye led, not a heavy character but generally spicy and savoury with an emphasis on the peppery character. The body follows in a still spicy and rye style, but with tarter notes. Strangely the first tarter notes I got wasn’t juniper, but instead grapefruit like and fairly clean. As it warms it becomes creamier, smoother and more evidently juniper touched.

It has moderate bitterness in the finish, but is never really hop led. What hop character it does have is muggy and slightly leaden. There is a wisp of smoke there as well, which feels very fresh hopped, but I presume that isn’t the case here.

So the main play of the beer is lightly tart fruit versus rye spice. It is fairly gentle, which is unusual for rye led beers, but still enjoyable. It is a bit different from the usual low alcohol beers, and fills out the low abv with enough flavour for an easy drinking one. It is, again, not a special stand out beer, but is still a nice twist on the low abv fare.

A decent one that is well worth a try.

Background: The final of the four pack of collaboration beers from Big Drop. This one a collaboration with Fat Lizard from Finland. Another one I have not run into before, so this is my first experience with them. This seems an interesting one, not just a rye IPA, but also infused with juniper – which admittedly I’ve had mixed experience with in beers. It has a decently varied hop load with Azacca, Chinook, Citra and Magnum – the last of which seems to have turned up in most beers in this set. Don’t know if the pun of the beer name travels – it is a reference to the musical act “Right Said Fred”. Do people outside the UK know them? No idea. Went again with SOPHIE: Oil of Every Peal’s Un-Insides while drinking. This set was grabbed from Independent Spirit. I also grab alcoholic beers from them. Will do notes on those one day.

Big Drop: Hop Notch: Fläderlätt Elderflower (England: low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear yellow gold body with a large white head that leaves suds – along with moderate amounts of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Grapes. Elderflower. Slight honey. Light fluffy hop character Flour. Fresh white bread.

Body: Elderflower. Elderberry. White grapes. Slightly tart. Flour. Fluffy hop character. Vanilla. Moderate bitterness. White bread.

Finish: Elderberry. Low but present hop character and bitterness. Tart grapes. Peppery. Pineapple.

Conclusion:Ok, yep definitely elderflower in here, or possibly elderberry. I definitely have a different mental image for both, which seems to match to what they should taste like, but I am aware I could be full of shit. It’s not like I shove a bunch of flowers down my gob regularly to check.

Anyway, a very berry influenced beer in flavour – lightly tart, with some tart grapes and a general fresh, clean feeling to it. It is a real palette cleanser of a beer for the most part, but then, after your mouth has been freshened it then lays down its own beery layer. That layer is a fluffy, flour and hops feel that is moderate but not excessively sticky. It is kind of slightly sweet, with some higher vanilla notes, while also bringing weight to the character.

The flour like, nicely bitter hops stop it from being a super refresher of a beer, as they hang around a long time – but overall I feel it benefits the drink by giving it a good solid beer character so it doesn’t end up feeling like an elderflower soft drink.

It is not super complex, but it does its base idea well in a fresh, beery, easy to drink way that goes down easy. It is welcome and fits its low abv perfectly with its drinkability. I could do with having a few of these to hand for general drinking.

Background: Third of the beers from the second low alcohol collaboration box. This uses Mozart hops, which are apparently a new experimental UK hop which should be interesting. I presume it is made with elderflower – the ingredients list “Natural Flavouring”. Anyway, a tart aimed IPA, should be up my street. Hop Knotch is from Sweden, or so a quick google says. A new one to me. Went back to the ever classic At The Drive In – Relationship of Command for drinking music. Because it is great. Anyway, another beer grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Big Drop: Einstok: Arctic Beach Coconut Stout (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still and opaque main body. About a centimeter of browned head.

Nose: Coconut. Milky chocolate. Almonds to marzipan. Hot cake sponge.

Body: Milky chocolate. Lots of coconut. Cake sponge. Mild iced tea. Occasional light black cherry. Good texture – fluffy cake sponge like. Slight sulfur.

Finish: Clean. Coconut. Almonds. Light charring. Light bitter chocolate. Iced tea.

Conclusion: Ok, you all probably know by now that I love coconut notes, and this is a literal coconut stout, so I have to love it, right?

Well, love it may be too strong a choice of words, but in general, yeah, this is my jam. The coconut is super present in a very clear, slightly dry way. So, in case you hadn’t working it out yet, make sure you are a coconut fan before coming in on this one as it DOMINATES!

The main body is fairly simple. Basically working moderate chocolate and heavy coconut. Chilled down it is slightly, but not overly, thin. A it warms it gets a surprisingly fluffy cake sponge kind of thicker texture which really helps the stout feel.

As always the aroma promises waaaay beyond that the body can deliver. Lots of thick cake sponge and almond to marzipan like notes. Somehow the air itself has a wonderful thickness to it. One day we will get a low abv beer that manages to live up to wonderful aromas like this.

For now I’m just happy this is decent. Not really complex, but has a bit of nuttiness and a few hints of other flavours that show it is trying. On the down side there are occasional tells to the low abv in iced tea notes, but the darker beer style means that they are rare.

An ok low abv stout that utterly rocks the coconut and so pushes itself higher than it would otherwise.

Background: Second beer tried from Big Drop’s second world Collaboration box – the Nordics. This one is done in collaboration with Einstok. I’ve had a couple of their beers before. Nothing stand out but nothing terrible. This one definitely caught my eye as a stout made with coconut. I adore coconut notes in my stouts. Looking at the can this was made with Magnum hops, which seems to be a common choice for their non hop led beers, as well as lactose, cocoa nibs and, of course, coconut. Had been playing the free 5th chapter for Ultimate Doom – known as “Sigil” recently, so went with Buckethead’s soundtrack for that as background while drinking. That version of Doom: Sigil cost’s around seven pounds, unlike the midi sound version which is free – but the tunes are awesome and well worth it.

Big Drop: Amundsen: Rush Rider Pastry Sour (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Light, clear yellow brown. Small bubbled carbonation in small amounts. Thin white head.

Nose: Fresh raspberry. Fresh strawberry. Jelly babies. Apple pie jelly centres.

Body: Slightly chalky. Danish pastries. Jelly babies. Cider.

Finish: Apple pie. Chalky. Gummy bears (Different from Jelly babies, yes?). Pears. Apple juice.

Conclusion: Ok, I’m split on this one. It is pretty unusual. Admittedly I’ve not dug much into the pastry sour scene, so maybe this is 100% normal there and not a big thing, but it is odd to me.

The aroma is full on Jelly Babies sweet, with fresh red fruit in a more natural way alongside those more artificial flavours. Soooo, pretty unlike any beer I have encountered. Very interesting, it isn’t very sour, nor even really pastry for the most part, but very dessert styled.

Chilled down the body is fairly empty and lightly chalky, with only a light sour characteristic and no real definition to it. Then again I find that issue common with a lot of low abv beers, as it warms it becomes more cider sour with those jelly baby notes coming through again. That said, it never becomes as rich and fruity as the aroma promises.

The finish returns to some of that apple pie centres and more jelly babies. Tart apple underlining it, but still chalky.

It is decent but the main two flaws, that being the charring and the lack of weight mid body, both give away the low abv. The aroma is amazing, and the finish lets the jelly baby and light sour notes roam, but the mid body just can’t seem to get the grip to really deliver. You are relying on the air of the finish for a lot of the fun. And it is fun, but the body should be doing its job as well.

So, yeah good aroma and very fun finish. This is a laugh, but sours seem to get especially short changed by less that 1% abv beers. Which is odd considering how many great sours there are on the lower end of the abv scale. So this is decent, fun, but not great.

Background: Low alcohol stuff! Man this is nearly turning into the low alcohol and whisky blog. Anyway, Big Drop, doing their second collab box with people around the world. This time with various Nordic countries – this one being with the Amundsen brewery from Norway. Though I will point out their first world collab box was with the UK, where they are based, so does that even count? Eh, probably, we are in the world, much as some people living here seem to hate to admit it. Anyway, this is a pastry sour, which is an odd concept to me, but seems a popular style at the mo. Looking at the ingredient list it is Magnum hopped, and has Malt Vinegar, Malic acid and Citric acid in its odd ingredients. Guess that is what is needed to get the sour style at low abv. I went with the Undertale Live Orchestra as live music again. It is a nicely quirky but chilled style that works well for drinking. The box of beers was grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Big Drop: Good Things Irish Stout (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Opaque black. Good inch or so of mounded creamy brown head.

Nose: Roasted nuts. Milky chocolate. Slight cream. Slight charring. Milky coffee.

Body: Roasted character. Dry. Chalk touch. Bitter coffee. Sour cream touch.

Finish: Charring. Bitter. Dry coffee bitter character. Bitter cocoa. Sour cream touch.

Conclusion: Ok, you may have seen the can – some of you may have even seen the text on the back of it. It is making some very obvious references to a certain beer from a certain brewery. Because of that, you may think that this is going to be the low alcohol take on the creamy keg version of Guinness. It is not.

Instead it is a, to my mind far more impressive, low alcohol take on the classic dry Irish stout style bottled Guinness and oh yes it has hit its target.

The normal tells of a low alcohol beer are nearly invisible here, in part due to the style choice, and of course due to quality brewing. The low alcohol notes normally evident, such as iced tea or isotonic drinks character are hidden easily by the charred and coffee notes. The dry character of an Irish stout also means that the thinner body of a low alcohol beer isn’t really a problem here. It feels nicely attenuated, and has a bit more weight than usual – though don’t go into it expecting anything too heavy. It has weight for a low alcohol beer, not for a big stout.

Now, I will admit it, the dry Irish stout isn’t my favourite of the beer styles. I find it too, well, drying for me. Shocking I know. Even with that said, this is a good beer, lots of coffee bitter notes, lots of roasted notes, hints of bitter cocoa though with no sweeter chocolate release, again probably a character of the style, not a flaw in the beer.

So, a decent Irish dry stout, even more impressive for the low abv. I enjoy it even though I am not a fan of the style, and, considering that it utterly nails the style, I have the feeling that if you are a fan of that, then this is going to rock your low abv world.

Background: For those of you who have not seen the can, the text on the back is “Good things do come to those who wait. But when tick follows tock, follows tick follows tock, we thought, hang on, toucan play at that game. And whilst we don’t want to harp on about it, it was a bit like pushing at an open gate: our AF stouts are some of the best in the world. So here’s our Irish Stout. “ Now, maybe I’m reaching, but there seems to be some subtle references in there. And by subtle I mean not subtle. At all. Anyway, more experimentation with low alcohol beers is always of interest to me, so I had to grab myself a few cans of this from Independent Spirit to give a go. Anyway, went with Miracle Of Sound: Level 11 for backing music again. We are in 2021 and A Long Year already sounds far too relevant again.

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