Tag Archive: Big Drop


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.

Big Drop: Salt: L’il IPL (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Clear yellow to grain coloured body. Good sized off white bubbled head. Small bubbled carbonation in the body.

Nose: Wheaty hop character. Peppery. Bitter. Crushed pepper seeds. Crisp. Lime. Lemon sherbet.

Body: Clean vanilla. Lemon sherbet. Crisp mouthfeel into fluffy later on. Moderate bitterness and hop character. Soft lime. Palma violets.

Finish: Peppery. Lemon sherbet. Good hop prickle. Slight hop oils. Quickly growing bitterness. Soft lime. Fluffy vanilla popcorn. Kiwi. Late on tannins and teabag notes come out.

Conclusion: Ok, this may actually have topped Big Drop’s Pale Ale as the go to for best low alcohol beer. It’s got a lovely clean lager feel, with none of the odd, chemical feeling notes that some low alcohol beers have.

The crisp, easy drinking style comes through with some soft palma violet notes that call to the hop use of the European lagers, and similarly a touch of hop oils with it. It makes for a fine base over which the heavier IPL hop weight is laid.

While this has a simple set of flavours from those heavier hops – a mix of lemon sherbet and lime notes are the most obvious fruity character – this light touch provides room for a solid hop feel and bitterness that prickles the tongue. It is lightly peppery in a way that adds to the urge to take another sip to deal with that hoppiness. Very drinkable.

In most lagers this hoppy encouragement to sip again would be as dangerous as it is enjoyable – but since this is 0.5% abv this is perfect to have as many as you want!

Now, late on there is a slight tannins and teabags like note that gives away the low abv, but generally this is a nigh perfect low alcohol IPL for session drinking.

This needs releasing as a stand alone beer right now.

Background: Third of the four low abv collaboration beers Big Drop did to celebrate their third anniversary. This India Pale Lager is a collaboration with Salt, who are epic at hop forward beers. Big Drop are epic at low abv beers so, yeah, I was excited for this one. The box of beers was grabbed at Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to Garbage – Bleed Like Me. Not their most famous album, but one I have a soft spot for.

Big Drop: Harbour: Going Swimmingly – Hibiscus Saison (England; Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale gold and clear body. Medium sized white head. Some carbonation.

Nose: Strong herbal character. Hibiscus. Slight stem ginger. Sage.

Body: Hibiscus. Slight ginger. Peppery. Slightly watery. Slight wood shavings. Slight fluffy popcorn. Vanilla.

Finish: Watery. Ginger. Hibiscus. Chinese stir fry. Wood shavings.

Conclusion: This is really spicy and herbal. Like REALLY herbal. The base beer has a fluffy feel, but is generally kind of watery and weak – not capturing the saison character too well.

It lacks anything to back the herbal notes, and because of that they utterly dominate, to the detriment of the beer. The hibiscus is super evident – it is gently peppery behind that – the main counter note is a kind of dry wood shaving notes that doesn’t exactly suit it.

It feels like drinking a jar of water that has been poured through a spice rack. I can’t enjoy it. The spice doesn’t work for me. It doesn’t feel beer like. It definitely doesn’t feel saison like. Even within the spice it doesn’t do anything that brings them together in a harmonious whole.

So, a real failure in my opinion. A rare one from Big Drop. I think this needs a complete rebuild from ground up if they intend to do any more saisons.

Background: The second of Big Drop’s third anniversary collaboration beers. This one, as the name may indicate is a saison made with hibiscus. Looking at the ingredient list it is also made with pink peppercorns, coriander seed, and juniper. So, a lot going into this one. Hops wise they went with my old friend, sorachi ace so I am hoping this will be an exciting beer. Anyway, as always Big Drop’s beers are 0.5% and so made for doing notes on an easy drinking day. Always good. I recently finished watching the utter soul breaking anime series that is Puella Magi Madoka Magica, so had a bunch of music from that as a background to my drinking. Because I obviously wanted a reminder of my soul being torn in two. People who have not watched the show may be googling it now, and on seeing the images, may think I am joking. I am not. That show is great and utterly gut wrenchingly draining to watch. Oh, also the beers were bought from Independent Spirit BTW.

Big Drop: Fourpure: Big River Black IPA (England; Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. A ruby touch to it if held to the light. Large mounded froth, beige coloured head.

Nose: Roasted nuts. Malt chocolate drinks. Bourbon biscuits. Bitter coffee. Slight lactose.

Body: Bitter. Charring. Greenery. Malt chocolate. Roasted nuts. Doughnut dough. Bitter hops. Slightly gritty. Slight tannins and teabags. Bitter coffee.

Finish: Bitter cocoa dust. Bitter hop character. Slightly dusty. Teabags. Kiwi. Slight pineapple. Cigarette ash.

Conclusion: Ok, they did it – a decent, low alcohol Black IPA. Note I said decent, not great, but right now that is still seriously impressive.

Initially this suffered very heavily from the thinner texture you get with the low abv, but somehow it manages to build up over time to a decent tongue clinging bitter beer. Definitely better after the first few sips – so give it some time so it can get going.

When it has built up it pushes a lot of cocoa, bitter coffee and decent hops, instead of the bitter charring cling that you get on the first few sips. A definite improvement. Those early moments are a big part of why I say this is only decent, but when you get past that there is a lot to enjoy – if still not perfect.

This leans more towards the bitter stout like take on the BIPA style rather than the fruitier IPA with a chocolate base. Now I will admit I prefer it the other way around, but this still has some fruit showing through – predominantly in the finish where you get a slight fresh set of notes.

There is still that tannin and teabag style that I see in a lot of low abv beers, but here a lot of the roasted character helps offset that nicely. So, a decent BIPA, a remarkably impressive one for the abv. Could so with some tweaking, but generally an impressive take.

Background: It is Big Drop’s 3rd anniversary! So they released a box set of four collaboration beers. As always the beers are 0.5% abv or lower. I swear Big Drop are doing a solid chunk in keeping me from dying from alcohol poisoning. Good job! This, a collaboration with Fourpure, is a black IPA. Don’t think I’ve seen an alcohol free(ish) BIPA before. Should be fun. Went with Against Me! Transgender Dysphoria Blues as music. One of those rare albums with not a bad track on it. The box was grabbed from Independent Spirit. They are a very common appearance here.

Big Drop: Brown Ale (England: Low Alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Reddened brown to mahogany. Clear main body with very small bubbled carbonation. Thin grey dash of a head.

Nose: Roasted. Nutty. Slightly chalky. Sour dough. Dry roasted peanuts.

Body: Nutty malt character. Brown sugar touch. Light chalk. Earthy touch. Slight sports drinks.

Finish: Light brown sugar. Charred wood. Mildly earthy character. Slight chalk.

Conclusion: This is a solid, middle of the road brown ale. Now that would seem like damning with faint praise, but this is rocking in at 0.5% abv, and because of that I can cut it some slack – managing to be an even middle of the road brown ale at low abv is impressive in itself. So sure, it doesn’t wow, but it is very much what you would expect from a brown ale.

As long as you don’t overly chill it down there really isn’t much sign of the lower alcohol content. There is just a slight glucose sports drink touch to the body. Now if you do over chill it, things get a bit more obvious. Like that the mouthfeel is much thinner, and loses a chunk of the flavour with it. So don’t do that, ok?

Had just slightly chilled it is a roasted, nutty and slightly earthy thing, with just a hint of brown sugar sweetness offsetting that. Everything a good brown ale should be,

It isn’t fancy or special but manages a good mouthfeel, beer like character and flavour, all without having to lean too heavily on the hops to do that like a lot of low abv beers do.

As of such I’m impressed. It may not be exceptional against a full abv brown ale, but it is bloody impressive for what it is and stands up as a decent enough expression in of itself.

Background: Big drop have pretty much established themselves as the masters of the low abv beer. So, I’ve had this one, their take on a brown ale a few times already. I tend to keep a bunch of low abv beers around for when I want an easy night. So I knew pretty much what to expect going in and was already aware I should not over chill it even though it is bloody warm again over here. Another one grabbed from Independent Spirit, which was drunk while listening to the almost b-move horror metal that is Sigh: Gallows Gallery.

Big Drop: Citra Four Hop Special Edition Pale Ale (England: Low alcohol: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow to grain. Thin off white bubbled head.

Nose: Peach. Fresh cut apple. Cake sponge. Lime. Lemon sorbet. Very fresh. Light raspberry pavlova.

Body: Soft lime. Grapes. Slight chalk. Low to moderate hop character and bitterness. Slight peach. Tannins.

Finish: Chalk touch. Good hop bitterness and character. Soft lime. Cake sponge. Lemon cake. Apple. Dried banana. Tannins.

Conclusion: First up, the aroma on this is great. Lots of soft, fruity hop action. It is gentle, but lively in flavour. Here the beer is significantly different from the original Big Drop Pale Ale and all the better for it.

The body is more similar to its parent brew, still showing cake sponge, still a good use of hop character and soft lime notes. If you have been looking at the notes above you would probably expect me to say there is more difference than there actually is. The thing is there definitely are a range of different notes, it is just that they are not consistent, just occasional , pleasant, hiccups of flavour that pop in and out throughout the beer.

Now, the base, standard Big Drop Pale ale is one of my favourite ever low alcohol beers – this has a far better aroma, and a just slightly better body. So, of course, I love it. Again it feels like a very good beer, not just a good low alcohol beer – only some light tannin notes give away the low abv character.

So, yeah, if you get a chance to grab it this is an awesome low abv beer of character. If you can’t find it, the standard Big Drop Pale Ale is still flipping great and this isn’t so big a difference that you must hunt it out for this.

Still a nice twist on a a still awesome beer.

Background: I adore Big Drop’s Pale Ale. It is still possibly my favourite low alcohol beer, which has been getting to be an actual hard fought category over the past year, which I admit is something I never thought I would say. This is a limited version of the beer which I spotted at Beercraft. I don’t use them that much as they can be a tad expensive, but their low alcohol selection at the moment is fantastic. I put on Against Me! – Transgender Dysphoria Blues while drinking- still an utterly fantastic album.

Big Drop: Stout (England: Low alcohol Stout: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Moderate sized beige head.

Nose: Roasted nuts. Lactose. Milky chocolate. Praline.

Body: Good mouthfeel. Nutty. Slightly chalky. Slight charring. Earthy bitterness. Muted bitter cocoa. Sour dough. Slight teabags.

Finish: Charring. Roasted nuts. Slight chalk. Lactose. Earthy bitterness. Sports energy drinks.

Conclusion: First, to get it out of the way – No this is not as awesome as the Big Drop + Tiny Rebel collaborations stout. Then again, it is about half the price and easier to get hold of. However, this does have a few positives of its own, so let’s dig in and take a look.

One advantage this has over its fancier cousin is a slightly thicker texture, which does a fair job in negating the main flaw of low abv beers, that being a watery mouthfeel. If over chilled the extra feel is easily lost, so I’d recommend to go for this lightly chilled, and like that it holds up well.

Flavour-wise it is solid if not exceptional – nutty, muted chocolate and good lactose notes. It can be a tad chalky and charred at times, but generally a solid if not exceptional milk stout taste which seems very impressive for such a low abv.

The most evident hint of the lower abv is again a kind of teabag and tannins into slight sports energy drink notes. Nothing major as a problem, it is just something you can notice if you look for it.

Solid enough, if I was drinking alcohol I wouldn’t take it over a standard stout, but for a non drinking day this is spot on.

Background: This is the second time I’ve tried this. First was when it first came out, and I had left it in the fridge a while before drinking, like that I found it overly chalky and dull. Since then they have had time to tweak the recipe and I’ve found that low abv beers work best only slightly chilled, so I decided to grab another and give it a try. This was drunk on a stupidly warm Easter weekend. I put on Metallica – And Justice For All while drinking. Heavy music for a low abv beer. This was another one grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Tiny Rebel: Big Drop: Imperial Mocha Vanilla Shot Stout (Wales: Low abv Stout: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Black. Still. Large beige head.

Nose: Milky coffee. Massive amounts of espresso coffee. Vanilla. Rich roasted coffee. More rounded coffee notes. Basically a lot of coffee. Milky chocolate. Hot chocolate drinks. Roasted nuts.

Body: Milky coffee. Vanilla. Quite light texture. Creamy. Lightly bitter coca. Sulphur. Tannins.

Finish: Vanilla toffee. Vanilla infused coffee. Bitter chocolate cake. Slight sulphur. Cashew nuts. Tannins.

Conclusion: Ok, Tiny Rebel claims this is the low abv equivalent of a big 12% abv imperial stout. It is not like a 12% abv stout. Ok, let’s correct that, it doesn’t have the feel of a 12% abv beer. For all the good work they do with the flavour they just can’t duplicate the viscosity of such a high abv beer without the equivalent malt load.

However, with that out of the way, if you had told me this was a 4-5% abv stout made with coffee, cocoa and vanilla? Yep, I would have believed you easily. Beyond that I would have happy recommended it as being a very good example of that style, a top notch one even. I even tested it by letting my mates try it, and they had no idea of the abv (only single blind test – I was aware of its low abv, my mates were not). This is an utterly amazing low abv beer and would be a very good standard stout, that is bloody impressive.

It has a slightly light mouthfeel, but offset by good use of a creamy note and packs in vanilla and restrained chocolate in the body before heading out into a very coffee filled finish. Now good as that is, it did not manage to live up to the aroma which gives just epic levels of coffee. I mean, based on the aroma alone you would expect this to be competing with full abv Beer Geek Brunch Weasel – unfortunately, good as it is, it is not quite that good!

The main hint of the low abv style of it is a slight tannin character, but thankfully hear that actually works very well with the stout style, turning what could be a flaw in most low abv beers into a positive instead.

Ok, yeah, this is competing with Big Drop’s Pale Ale for best low alcohol beer ever. Pale is a better anytime beer, which is often what you want from a low abv beer – however for a beer to examine, have range of flavours, and just blowing away your expectations, this is the best low abv beer I have encountered. Genuinely impressed.

Background: So, for their 7th anniversary the ever fun Tiny Rebel did a box pack of collaborations they did with various breweries. This one especially caught my attention – in collaboration with Big Drop, the master of low abv beers they did what they pitch as a low abv Imperial Stout. Yeah, silly name, but gets across the gist of what they are trying to do. This was made with oats, rye, cocoa nibs, cocoa powder…ok the text is really hard to read on the can, it’s blue on slightly darker blue. I give up. It is made with ingredients. Special ingredients. Probably vanilla pods, maybe coffee beans. I dunno. Anyway, went with some punk music for this big/small beer – Propagandhi – Victory Lap.

Big Drop: Sour (England: Low Alcohol Sour: 0.5% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellow and clear. Some carbonation. Short lived white head.

Nose: Wet cardboard. Lightly sour. Apple juice to cider. Wet rocks. Pears. Mild vinegar. Soft lemon.

Body: Tart and tingling. Soft lychee. Slight chalk. Mild cider. Cardboard. Mild vanilla.

Finish: Lightly bitter and charring. Vanilla. Touch. Lychee. Watery.

Conclusion: Chilled down this is fairly empty. It is lightly tart and tingling but without any real grip to it. It is watery with beer like elements floating within that. However for all it was as let down like this, there are hints of something else – slight cider apple and soft lychee notes – subtle flavours that are overpowered by the mild, but still rougher, chalk and charring notes.

So, with not much else to it, I decided to see if time and some warmth could make a difference then.

Warmth helps develop some body, giving it a slighter thicker touch that brings out soft vanilla and allows the soft lychee notes a bit more grip to work with. It is still a gentle beer, lager like it its dryness, with lightly tart and sour notes over that. Even with the aforementioned chalk and charring notes it is still gentle – no real rough edges here, which I will admit is an odd thing in a sour beer. Usually they are all prickly oddities and harsh but joyous notes.

There are light cider and light vinegar touches that would be harsher elements if they did not feel heavily watered down by the lightness of the rest of the beer. Now they are just slightly more acidic notes while gentle apple and pear notes are delivered over it.

Now warmed up it is reasonable – as mentioned a lightly sour touch over a dry lager feel with gentle tart fruit notes as the flavours. Sour beers are not a common entry in the low alcohol range, so for that I commend it – however recently Mikkeller did their low abv take on “Hallo Ich Bin Berliner Weisse” and that set a new bar for low alcohol sour beers. So, while this is ok, dry, drinkable and refreshing it is not a patch on that low abv wonder.

Had cool this is very weak, with warmth it is ok but unexciting outside of its unusual place in the low alcohol drink range. So, ok, but with a lot of room to grow better.

Background: I tried this a short while ago, picked up from Beercraft, but did not do notes at the time. This time it was grabbed from Independent Spirit. I’ve been digging Big Drop’s low alcohol beers, especially their pale ale, and wanted to see how their sour did and how it has progressed since the first batch. Drunk on an otherwise non drinking night I put on one of Eels live albums – “Oh What a Beautiful Morning” while drinking – nice gentle tunes. Always like The Eels’ live stuff -each tour they play old songs in the style of their most recent album so it feels like a fresh experience each time.

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