Thursday 24 March 2022

Big Hello - big box, small ABV...

It may be a big name in non-alcoholic beer these days, but it wasn’t always thus – Big Drop has had to work at it. It did also have the advantage though of getting in early when it comes to specialist NoLo brewers, as opposed to regular brewers who dabble. 

When it launched around five years ago, I think Big Drop was also one of the first to offer a broad range of beer styles. I remember being particularly impressed by its original 0.5% stout, but I’d not tried any Big Drop brews for a few years, so I jumped at the chance when asked if I’d like to try the current core range. 

What arrived was a Big Hello mixed case. Listing at £14, this contains two cans each of Pale Ale, Citra IPA, Milk Stout and Craft Lager, and yes, they – mostly! – show just how far non-alcoholic beer has come. To stay on-trend, they’re all gluten-free as well. 

Starting with Pine Trail pale ale, there’s a splash of citrus and, yes, pine on the nose and then it’s malty and light, yet properly crisp and bitter. The Citrus IPA is hoppier of course, lemony and bitter, and perhaps the star of the show – it’s light-bodied yet full flavoured, just like many alcoholic session IPAs. 

Also good was Galactic Milk Stout – a little bit watery but properly flavoursome, with notes of burnt malts, roast coffee, milky chocolate and a little cola. Again, I’ve certainly had worse alcoholic stouts – and that is absolutely not meant to damn this with faint praise – this is a non-alcoholic stout that can stand up to its alcoholic peers.  

The weak spot for me was the Uptime Craft Lager, although this does seem to be one of their popular brews. It certainly wasn’t bad, and it does have hops present, but it was a tad worty on the nose and reminded me a bit too much of the watery non-alcoholic lagers of old. Sorry!! And maybe it’s just me – I’m not a huge lager fan at the best of times, Franconian Kellerbiers excepted of course. 

The Big Hello pack would be a great option to have on hand at a party, say, to cater for drivers and those who just need a break from the full-fat stuff, but who’d still like to have a choice – and of course it's a good way to experience a range of non-alcoholic beers. Once you've done that, there’s plenty of other nice ones to try – for dark beer, I also recommend Drop Bear’s Bonfire Stout, say, and for lager you can’t really go wrong with Lucky Saint.  

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