Meet the brewer: Rob Fink from the Big Drop Brewing Co.
Following the birth of his first child, founder of Big Drop, Rob Fink, decided he needed to hit the sauce on the head for a while. His job in the City of London meant that he was out a lot with clients and booze played a big part in that. It just wasn’t feasible to continue. So, he stopped drinking for a period of about 7 months. During that time he found a total lack of alcohol free stout – his favourite style of beer.
It started with Alcohol free Big Drop Chocolate Milk Stout
He started investigating this and asking questions of various brewers. Primarily, was it possible to brew an alcohol free stout? The answer that came back? ‘Yes, but no one will buy it.’ Rob decided to try anyway … not least because he wanted an alcohol free stout!
He eventually found a small brewery in Bermondsey which would rent out its equipment to allow him to do a few small runs to test the market. There was only one problem: he had no idea how to brew beer.
Fortune stepped in though and Rob was introduced to Johnny Clayton, former head brewer at Wild Beer Co. and a renowned experimental brewer.
It was agreed that Big Drop wouldn’t do anything to the beer to remove the alcohol (something which messes with the flavour). Equally, halted fermentation was ruled out. (This is another common method of getting low ABV, which stops the brew halfway through and leaves a flavour and aroma of unfinished beer.)
However, Johnny found a way, although he says other brewers would find the Big Drop methods ‘out and out weird’. However, as a result Big Drop runs a full brewing process from start to finish to produce a full-flavoured beer which stands up against many of its full-strength contemporaries.
Big Drop craft beer collection built
The first brews of the now legendary Chocolate Milk Stout began. After some serious experimentation and taste testing a recipe was settled on and the beer was unleashed. A pale ale and a lager swiftly followed to complete the core range. A seasonal fourth beer rotates and is currently a spiced winter ale.
Big Drop is now recognised as being at the forefront of low/no alcohol beer innovation. It is the recipient of many beer competition awards and won critical acclaim from seasoned beer writers and critics. Most significantly, it has been immortalised in print in Melissa Cole’s Little Book of Craft Beer.
Sales have boomed as outlets everywhere realise the demand for full-flavoured alcohol free options. Exports to countries including Sweden, Japan and Poland have shown an international demand. The future looks bright for Big Drop.