Tag Archive: Big Drop


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.

Big Drop: Kinzig Gateaux Stout (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. A grey/brown to off white head.

Nose: Black cherry to black cherry syrup. Chocolate dust. Black forest gateaux. Chalk touch.

Body: Slightly chalky. Iced tea. Slightly creamy. Charred notes. Slight blackberry.

Finish: Black cherry air. Lightly watery. Chalk touch. Mild cocoa. Slight coriander and ginger. Slight cream. Charring.

Conclusion: This is pretty much the opposite of the Speckled Hen Low Alcohol I had recently. This is all shiny and spectacle, with lots of class but really needs some more mouthfeel and weight.

The flavours are subtle, but the aroma is not. On the nose there are lots of black cherry and black forest gateaux that just floats out of the glass. Very dessert stout like, without being sickly sweet. Very nice.

The body comes in with the same flavours as the aroma promises, just lighter. It definitely needs to be somewhere around room temperature – when chilled down it loses 90% of the flavour. Warmer it has nice, if light flavours – similar gateaux character, with that iced tea like backing that is often a tell of low alcohol beers.

The finish has similar cream and dark fruit notes over a slightly chalky and charred underlying character that works well, but with the lighter body feels like it isn’t 100% needed.

This is reasonable, but definitely needs more body. If they can nail that, give the flavours some more grip, then this would be epic.

As is, it is ok, interesting, but light.

Background: I love Big Drop’s dedication to low abv beers, so have been trying as many of their products as I can. This is one of their seasonal range – coming in a larger can, and at a slightly higher cost, for something a bit different. Grabbed from Independent Spirit, I’ve had this one a few times already before doing these notes, and I put on IDLES: Ultra Mono again for backing music. Some emotionally open yet angry tunes. Kind of a mood recently. Not much else to add. Happy whatever you celebrate, or just a happy day to anyone who doesn’t.

Big Drop: Poolside DDH IPA (England: low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold body with some small bubbled carbonation. Huge yellow white loose head that leaves suds.

Nose: Peach. Unbuttered popcorn. Kiwi. Soft lime. Lemon drizzled pancakes. Passion-fruit. Cake sponge. Lightly bitter.

Body: Iced tea. Kiwi. Slight teabags. Cake sponge. Moderate bitterness. Lightly peppery. Slight peach. Vanilla. Lime.

Finish: Good hop bitterness. Tannins. Lemony. Light charring. Apple. Good hop character. Lime. Kiwi. Peach.

Conclusion: I’m slightly split in my opinion of this one. It does a lot well, but there is one important point where I feel it is weaker than Big Drop’s Citra IPA and their Pale Ale. Weaker in character that is, they are all 0.5% abv for alcohol, natch.

The aroma is the best part – fresh and subtly layered. Lots of different fruit dancing around in there – you get a good range and a subtle hop character and bitterness working under it.

The bitterness grow in the main body, to become a decent kick by the time you get through to the finish. The fruit is never as complex as the aroma though. Instead of layers of juicy and fresh fruit notes you tend to get bursts of individual notes pushing through. There are still kiwi and lemon notes making the most distinct impression despite the growling bitterness.

The problem then is that it has that kind of iced tea and tannins notes which tend to show up in low alcohol beers, and especially early on they are much more present that in Big Drop’s other hoppy beers. I’m not sure why, but for all the quality hop work used here, it still shouts “low abv” more that most of Big Drop’s range.

It is still decent, good in fact – it is impressive in how it manages to balance the higher bitterness without needing the malt and higher abv to balance it – and it does show what you can do when you put more, and a wider range of, ingredients into a low abv beer.

It just needs a bit of tweaking – so close, just needs that touch more work to really shine.

Background: Second of Big Drop’s summer releases. This being more firmly in their area of strength being a hop led double dry hopped IPA. Looking at the can it is hopped with Azacca, Chinook, Mosaic and Motueka. Again had a few of these before doing the notes. Went with Rage Against The Machine’s self titled album as backing to drinking. Mainly as some people still don’t realise their songs are political apparently. So I need to keep pumping them out until people realise. Anyway, another beer from Independent Spirit.

Big Drop: Kodama IPL (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Darkened gold colour clear body. Very small bubbled carbonation. Medium sized crisp bubbled off white head.

Nose: Choc toffee. Choc lime. Lemongrass. Bubblegum. Lemon sherbet. Lightly prickly hops. Bourbon biscuits.

Body: Clean. Bourbon biscuits. Choc toffee. Lemongrass. Prickly hop character.

Finish: Lemongrass. Good hop character and bitterness. Choc toffee. Mild gherkin touch. Bubblegum. Bitterness grows over time. Fresh touch – slight grapefruit.

Conclusion: This is much more malt led than I expected from an IPL. There is lots of choc toffee notes that call to an East Cost IPA inspiration for this IPL. It isn’t thick in mouthfeel – actually quite clean textured and easy drinking in fact – until the hops come out to play at least.

The hops prickle – starting with low bitterness, but in the finish it keeps growing until it gives a decent punch whilst still allowing the main body to keep its easy drinking character.

The interesting this, for me at least as a fan of Sorachi Ace hops, is how those hops interplay with all this. (And there are also Nelson Sauvin hops, of which I am also a huge fan, but one thing at a time)

It gives those bubblegum and lemongrass filled notes that make this very different to to you usual low alcohol beer, lager or even IPL. I wonder if the more choc lime notes we get are the mix of the odd hop influence with the sweeter malt. Any which way it feels like an experiment in beer, rather than just an attempt to make a low alcohol version of an existing beer and that makes it very interesting indeed.

It’s prickly, kind of savoury with light freshness over that sweet base, and while you are trying to work out what each flavour actually is, that bitter finish comes it to make everything nice and simple in the end.

One of the better IPLs I’ve had, so as a low abv IPL it is great. The only flaw is an odd one for a low abv beer – the heavier malt flavour makes it less easy drinking over time, so it isn’t as sessionable as it could be.

Still, in general I love it.

Background: A summer release from the masters of the low abv beer – Big Drop! I’ve had a few of these already, but being low abv beers I tend to drink them so easily I never get around to do notes on them, so I made a distinct effort here to finally do some. This is an IPL made with Nelson Sauvin and Sorachi Ace hops – a combination of two of my favourite hops that need more show these days now they are no longer the new hotness. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit. Went with Heavens To Betsy: Calculated for background music. No real reason, was just in the mood.

Big Drop: Paradiso Citra IPA (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% BAV)

Visual: Clear pale yellow body. Thin white head. Lots of small bubbled carbonation.

Nose: Fresh hoppy character. Vanilla. Apples. Clean. Light flour. Cake sponge.

Body: Fluffy hop feel. Medium bitterness. Slightly light mid body.

Finish: High bitterness. Good hops. Light charred feel. Vanilla. Cake sponge. Apples. Light peppermint menthol touch,

Conclusion: I have to admit that, while I was confident, before trying this I wasn’t 100% sure that it wasn’t just a rebranded version of their Citra hopped pale ale. They have been renaming and rebranding their line as they move into cans, and let’s face it, it isn’t like it has the higher abv of anything that can immediately shout IPA.

A quick sip tells me I was wrong, this is definitely an IPA. I found it pretty impressive that they made the difference between this and their pale so evident and distinct at 0.5% ABV. This is especially true when you take into account the amount of session IPAs at higher ABV that end up feeling rough hopped due to the lack of malt backing.

There is a distinct hop feel, and a solid but not harsh bitterness against a gentle vanilla backing. The low abv doesn’t seem to give enough grip for the citra hops to really fully show through but there are still some distinct apple notes top and tail. It isn’t perfect – it is a tad light and slightly towards the watery side compared to a full IPA – again it seems the abv limits how far you can push things, but it is a very easy drinking IPA if not an exceptional one. Still impressive what they manage for what they were working with.

I slightly prefer Big Drop’s Pale Ale, as that is a great pale as well as a great low abv beer. This by comparison is a decent IPA for low abv, and a great low abv beer, but could not stand up against full abv IPAs. Still, considering that one of the selling points is the high abv and what they can do with it, it is a bigger challenge, so not matching the Pale Ale is not terrible criticism.

Another great low abv beer fro the masters of that niche, Big Drop, even if it is not their best.

Background: I’ve had a lot of Big Drop’s beers – they only do low abv 0.5% beers, and as a beer nut having something that low as a go to is a life saver. Possibly literally. Their Pale Ale is one of my favourite low abv beers and a bloody good beer in its own right. I tried their citra variant of their pale ale, but I am was fairly sure this is a new beer and not just that. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to The Royal They: Foreign Being. Yes I grabbed another album off them after my last set of notes.

Big Drop: Fyne Ales: Jam Session (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Very pale, lightly yellowed body. Thin white dash of a head. A small amount of carbonation.

Nose: Wholemeal bread. Fresh raspberry. Watery malt vinegar. Lightly chalky. Spritzy.

Body: Softly tart. Slightly fizzy feel. Chalk feel. Light tart raspberry. Watery. Slight watery malt vinegar. Yellow raspberry. Greenery.

Finish: Chalky. Cake sponge. Watery. Light raspberry. Lactose. Salty. Green fresh leaves.

Conclusion: This is, well, unusual. I would say that it doesn’t feel like it matches a gose, but since the explosion in new takes on the style over the past few years I really couldn’t say if it does or does not fall under one of them. It is just, a bit odd.

What it does is wear its many and varied ingredients on its sleeve. The watered malt vinegar sourness, the salt touch, acidic, lactose kind of thing. All stuff that gives a distinct mouthfeel despite a general wateriness, and does give a general base character that has a lot of the unusual notes you would associate with the more lactic goses. However as indicated the reason that it doesn’t feel much like a gose to me is that the main body is very watery and thin. All the ingredients have to work very hard against that to get across what gose feel it has.

The raspberry is surprising lightly used over that base – it gives reasonable tartness and some flavour, but not as dominant as you might expect. The raspberry is quite naturally done, but understated – it feels like a soft drink made with a few raspberries to give a bit of pep, but not much else.

It is ok, but feels very much like a non soda pop styled soft drink – one of those glass bottled small company soft drinks kind of things – rather than a beer. It even has that odd herbal note you get in a bunch of those drinks as they are made with a bunch of “Natural ingredients”. Similarly there is a chalk note that make it just slightly rough at the edges.

Its an ok drink, but not really refreshing, not really a good gose, not really impressive as a beer. It is just gently pleasing but not much else.

Ok, not really worth grabbing by itself, but ok as part of the four pack.

Background: Fourth and final of the low abv collaboration beer made by Big Drop to celebrate their 3rd anniversary. This one, a collaboration with Fyne Ales, is probably the most unusual – An attempt to reproduce the once nearly lost Germany gose style – but at 0.5% ABV. To do so they have a host of special ingredients in the brew – most notably raspberry flavouring, malt vinegar, sea salt, malic, tartaric, lactic and citric acid. I had to look up what some of those acids were. As before the four pack box was grabbed from Independent Spirit. Since we had one amazing and one good beer out of the batch so far (and admittedly one crap one) I was looking forwards to this. Music wise it was yet again time for Tool: Fear Inoculum. Such an amazing album.

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