NON ALCOHOLIC DRINKS PODCASTRob Fink, Founder & CEO, Big Drop Brewing Co: Episode #005


On Episode 005 I head to the UK to catch up with Big Drop Brewing Co. CEO & Founder Rob Fink. We chat through the origins and visions of a true pioneer of the non-alcoholic beer movement.
The very first brew from the Big Drop crew, the Galactic Milk Stout is decadent, rich and full bodied. Read the Review to find out what you're in for!
The Paradiso Citra is the IPA of the Big Drop Range! Read the review on what is quickly becoming a fan favourite (and find out where to buy some yourself)!
Big Drop Brewing Podcast - Rob Fink Header
The best seller in the Big Drop Range, read the review on the brilliantly bitter and balanced English Pale Ale.
Every range needs a Lager, the Big Drop Uptown Craft Lager is a light and bright lager, find out what its all about in my reivew.

Non Alcoholic Drinks PodcastEpisode #005: Shownotes

Rob Fink, CEO & Founder, Big Drop Brewing Co.


Big Drop Brewing Co. Founder and CEO Rob Fink stops in to chat through origin story, the Australian core range and how he sees the industry and in venue options growing in the post COVID world. If you’re a fan of Big Drop or keen for a new beer to try this is the episode to get stuck in to and learn about the traits of each beer. 

Big Drop Brewing Rob Fink Non Alcoholic Drinks Podcast

Haven’t got the time to listen? Check out the show notes below for

  1. Episode Recap
  2. Drinks and links we mention; and
  3. The full episode transcript

Key Recap.

  • On the back of the birth of his first son in 2014, Rob took a break from drinking for 6 months.
  • Rob, who was then working as a lawyer, was still faced with a problem of needing to entertain clients in pubs and bars.
  • He found there was a shortage of good non-alcoholic craft beer options and with that, the idea of Big Drop was born.
  • Following a lot of research, touching base with contract brewers and a chat with the Seedlip crew the first batches were brewed.
  • From there the range has continued to evolve and be brewed in local markets all throughout the world.
  • A key factor in the success of Big Drop is choosing markets where craft beer is engrained in the culture as opposed to non-alcoholic drinks being the norm.
  • The Australian Range is made up of the Lager, Citra IPA, Pale Ale and Milk Stout (in more detail below).

Drinks Mentioned in Episode #005

Episode #004 Transcript

Intro 0:03  

Welcome to the non alcoholic drinks podcast helping you navigate the ever growing world of what non alcoholic drinks have to offer by bringing you the latest news, interviews and drink reviews. Now, here’s your host, Jonathan Lamb Berry anytus

Jonathan  0:19  

Hello, and thank you so much for joining me on the non alcoholic drinks podcast brought to you by where we believe in doing a drink is all about the taste and the company you’re with. 

Jonathan  0:30  

This is the podcast for anyone looking to take the guesswork out of what non alcoholic drinks to try next while staying up to date with all the latest news information and new releases. My name is Jonathan Lambrianidis and n today’s episode of the non alcoholic drinks podcast is supported by Brunswick aces the creators of Australia’s first non alcoholic gin, the founders of Australia’s first non alcoholic bar and bottleshop, while being the online home of non alcoholic, they stock a range of non alcoholic beer, wine and spirits from all over the world. So to find out more, head over to Brunswick and choose how you drink not if you drink. 

Jonathan  1:08  

Alrighty, On today’s episode, I’m continuing the global theme and headed to the UK at least figuratively for now. And I’ll be joined by Rob Fink, founder and CEO of the world’s first non alcoholic brewery Big Drop Brewing Co. Today, I’ll be chatting with Rob about how Big Drop got started the way Rob and the team have really seen the non alcoholic landscape grow and their role in it as well. 

Jonathan  1:32  

And of course, we’ll be talking about the products, how they’re made, where they’re made, and what’s available down here in Australia. So if a globally awarded five star rated non alcoholic beer is your thing, or you’re just looking to learn a little bit more about how Big Drop are and how they got down to Australia, grab a drink, stick around, and you’re really going to enjoy what Rob has to say.

Jonathan  1:53  

Hey, just before we get into the interview with Rob, just wanted to say if you haven’t subscribed to the podcast yet, that would be amazing. You can do that in your podcast app. And you’ll stay up to date with the latest new releases and interviews just like this one. As always, I’ve taken all the notes for you. And they’ll be listed over at 

Jonathan  2:16  

And with that, let’s get into today’s episode and our chat with Rob.

Jonathan  2:26  

Rob, welcome to the non alcoholic drinks podcast. It’s really great to have you today. 

Rob  2:30  

Thanks very much good to be here. 

Jonathan  2:32  

I’m really excited to talk to you as you know that Australia is a little bit behind the curve in terms of non alcoholic drinks. And big drop has kind of been at the forefront of that movement globally, especially in the UK and at least for me here in Australia, the pine trail ale was that kind of first foray into non alcoholic craft beer. And it’s just really amazing to have a beer which was so nice as a different approach and have something which has actual bitterness in it and has become one of the beers that have actually taken accidentally on Purpose leave at friend’s houses and often get texts a week or two later saying they ran out of beer or they are still in lockdown. And they actually tried it and they were knocked off their socks. I couldn’t believe it actually tasted like normal beer. 

Rob  3:07  

Well, this is this is great. Thank you for your help in spreading the word that’s appreciated. 

Jonathan  3:11  

Yeah, it’s a beautiful beer and good one to get started on. But to get people up to speed, it would be great to learn a little bit how you went from a lawyer working in your own firm in downtown London to having a non alcoholic beer brand which has beer in the hands of people literally all over the world.

Rob  3:25  

Yes, but weird, isn’t it? Who knew? Who knew? Yes. So I was indeed for my sins a lawyer in London. 

Rob  3:32  

I did indeed start my own law firm with another guy. He did most of the hard work and I did most of the business development. I know that you work in house, but if you’re in private practice, you’ve got to spend a lot of time out there schmoozing and pressing palm and wining and dining and see in central London, there’s there’s quite a lot of wining and dining so I’d spend many an afternoon in the pub, propping up the bar with brokers and underwriters and, and other nefarious sorts, and they go out for dinner in the evening when people you know, business development is a technical term, there’s worse ways to earn a living. 

Rob  4:01  

But then I had my first son in 2014. He was born and a I just knocked the booze on the head for about six months after he was born. Because fundamentally, you can’t go out drinking all afternoon in the pub. 

Rob  4:14  

I think go home and change nappies or give babies baths because their mothers don’t like that. They’re not that keen on that if you turn up seven pints down, three sheets to the wind and say “oh no, no, I’m absolutely gonna bath the baby trust me it’s absolutely fine.” They don’t like it. 

Rob  4:28  

So I started knocking it on the head so just didn’t didn’t drink for six months, but I still had to go to the pub because it was my job genuinely that was a big part of my job was going out and getting business and the way that you did that in the City of London in the in the business I was in was going to the pub with people but you can’t stand in a pub or afternoon and drink orange juice or cola or coffee. You know you can have one, that’s fine, but if you stood there for five hours chewing the fat with people you’ve got to have, you want a beer in your hand. 

Rob  4:55  

So I ended up buying – no brands here, no brands here – let’s be, we’ll be polite. But I ended up buying the sort of the most widely available non alcoholic beer in the UK, which actually came in little 275 mil bottles. 

Rob  5:08  

So you could buy two of them, put them in a pint glass, and you stood there and you’re you’re drinking a lager. It was basically it was a lager. And actually, if it was cold, it was right. You know, it wasn’t horrible. wasn’t great that it was all right. And it was drinkable. But the thing for me was that, um, I’m not really a large drinker. By no means am I a craft beer expert, or as a geek is not necessarily got negative connotations anymore. 

Rob  5:32  

But you know, I mean, I’m not particularly knowledgeable. I wasn’t particularly knowledge knowledgeable. Should I say that I did prefer to drink like pale ales or IPAs, or darker beers, given the choice, I’d probably always drink a darker beer over a lighter beer. And I looked and I looked and I looked and I could not find anywhere in the country or indeed the world, a non alcoholic Pale Ale, or non alcoholic IPA, all the beer that I was missing, which was a non alcoholic staff couldn’t find it anywhere. And so that is a very long introduction to me, saying to myself, why is nobody done non alcoholic craft beer? It doesn’t exist as a category. Why don’t we give it a pun. And that was the beginning.

Jonathan  6:12  

So the way that it all started was just literally from the fact that you had the change in your lifestyle. And that’s kind of the thing that so many people have touched on that they’ve had children or just a sport in general, or a change in lifestyle, and then all of a sudden, they’ve got no knowledge in the space, but then they they’re like, you know what, I’m going to make it better. I’m going to be the one that drives the change. And it sounds like you took that on. And when you did that, did you you have any background? Or was it just what so many of us do and pop straight to our phones or our laptops and just head straight to Google?

Rob  6:40  

Oh, there was a lot of googling. There was a lot of googling. Yeah, absolutely. So I found those, there was a couple of companies at the time in the UK that were selling purely non alcoholic beers wines, its spirits didn’t really non alcoholic spirits didn’t really exist other than seedlip. 

Rob  6:53  

So I got in touch with those guys. Somebody lived, one of the guys lived down the road from me completely, randomly met up with him and had a chat. And then through a very long process of elimination, eventually found a little brewery in East London that had a very small kit that you could do test brews on, which is about 700 liters, because the issue for me was I didn’t have the money to build a brewery, like you know, if you want to build a brewery on 500,000 Australian dollars, something like that. I’m sure you can do it cheaper.

Rob  7:19  

But you know, that’s the rough kind of number. I didn’t have that number. No investor was gonna give me that because the whole idea of non alcoholic craft beer was everyone thought I was a complete moron. It was like, Why? Why would you even think about this, you know, this is not a thing. So I needed somewhere that could brew the beer for me. So I found this place again on Google went down there had a chat with them. They were like, yeah, there’s 700 liters. So it’s called contract brewing. So we don’t own a brewery. 

Rob  7:43  

So we brew out there locally in the markets that we sell it so we brew it in Australia. So the beer that you’re drinking in Australia is brewed in Australia, but there was a gap in the UK for medium sized brews. So if you want to contract brew, really, you need to be doing 10,000 litres, which is about 30,000 bottles of beer. And my idea, I didn’t know that there was even a market for it, let alone How to get it to market. So I couldn’t do that. So eventually found this guy at this little kit. But then the other issue was I didn’t know how to brew beer. 

Rob  8:12  

That was quite a big hurdle that you need to overcome. But happily at this place in East London in Bermondsey, there was a guy called Johnny Clayton, who’s a very well regarded Brewer, and he developed all the recipes for us then, and he now works full time for us as our head Brewer.

Jonathan  8:28  

Yeah. Right. So literally just an approach to jumping onto Google finding a contract, bro. And then you’ve kind of had Johnny on board since?

Rob  8:35  

Yeah, exactly. Exactly. asking people questions, doing some googling, doing some research and just getting on with it really

Jonathan  8:41  

Sounds like when you kind of made that decision back in 2014-15, the idea of big drop began forming and the demand for alcohol free beer was there, but the craft scene wasn’t really established. And it wasn’t really an option. And I guess on the back of that it sounds like big drop did for non alcoholic beer. What Kraft did for the whole beer industry

Rob  9:00  

That was you know, you’ve hit the nail on the head. And that’s always how I describe what we’re trying to do. We are literally trying to do for non alcoholic beer, what craft beer did for beer.

Rob  9:12  

And I don’t know what beer was like historically, Australia, I think from what I know is a little bit like what happened in the UK, which is that I worked in a pub in the mid 90s. And like pretty much every single pub in the entire country you could buy I mean let’s name not because I’m not knocking them because I used to drink Carlsberg like it was going out of fashion. 

Rob  9:29  

But you know, you could buy Carlsberg, Stella, Guinness, Strongbow. And then you if you were lucky, you might get a cask ale from the local brewery. But that was it. Any pub in the country you’d walk into in the mid 90s, that’s what you would get. 

Rob  9:41  

And then we had our own craft beer revolution. And you have to use the air quotes around that because it’s a controversial statement. And that was because you had companies like brewdog Camden Town, Thornbridge.

Rob  9:53  

Meantime, brewing pale aless, IPAs, you know, they were taking their inspiration from the US and it completely flipped it on its head. So But now you go into a pub in the UK, pretty much any pub in the UK. And there will be a decent selection of craft beers in the fridge, certainly in the fridge. And you know, you’re going to get a couple on draft as well. 

Rob  10:12  

But from a non alcoholic perspective, if you’re standing there at the bar, and you’re looking at that selection in the corner, you’ve got that non alcoholic lager. And when I was looking at it, I was like, okay, that’s only a small sector. But that’s like beer in the 90s in the UK. So let’s just do craft non alcoholic beer. And it makes sense. So it was always this thing. It was like, I’m not sure that I thought that the market was going to be as big as it is. And I didn’t really start it because I was some continent that never described me as a visionary, because I’m certainly not. But I was always like, somebody’s got to drink this, you know, if we can make good craft non ALC beer, people will drink this because people drink non alcoholic beer. And people drink craft beer. So let’s put it together and see what happens.

Jonathan  10:56  

Yeah, and I think that’s a really good point, right? Because what I’ve picked up from places like the UK, and then more likely Spain as well, they’ve got this view that non alcoholic beer is actually or non alcoholic drinks, especially for Spain in terms of wine more generally, they’ve got the view that they’re out and about for much longer than we are down here. And their culture is such that they can’t be on the booze all night, they can’t be getting hammered from four or five o’clock in the afternoon and go all the way through to 3am in the morning. And it’s kind of one of those things which they used to complement supplemented, right,

Rob  11:26  

It completely, Spain. And it’s really, really interesting about where big drop works and where it doesn’t work because both Spain and Germany about 15% of their total beer volumes are non alcoholic compared to the US is about 0.3% UK is about 1% Australia is probably zero point something percent but is you know, is catching up. 

Rob  11:47  

You know, that’s it’s it’s growing. But we don’t work big drop doesn’t sell in Spain and Germany. And we tried and we were like, Oh yeah, this is going to be shooting fish in a barrel. They understand non alcoholic beer. So we’re just going to go there and we’re just going to sell them this great non alcoholic beer. But it comes back to this point that big drop is craft beer and Spain. 

Rob  12:04  

They just they drink lager that’s what Spaniards drink. So they get lager if you try and sell them an IPA or a stout they look at you weird. I mean, don’t get me wrong. There is a tiny, tiny craft beer scene in the cities like in Barcelona in Madrid, but it’s not in any way like it is in Australia, the UK or the US. And it’s the same in Germany.

Rob  12:22  

So whilst it’s the Germans produce some of the finest beers on the on the planet, they don’t drink IPAs or stouts. They drink Pilsner. They drink wheat beer, it’s not beer that maybe you are I would describe as craft even though their breweries are largely independently owned. They’ve been doing it for hundreds of years. And their beer is amazing. So it doesn’t work in those countries. 

Rob  12:43  

Whereas the countries that we pick to go into basically it’s Scandinavian countries, Australia, Canada and the US because all of those countries, they understand what we’re doing in an alcoholic context. So then it comes back to this point, there’s like, Yeah, that’s great. You’re drinking alcoholic IPA, Pale Ale, stout, brown, whatever. We’re just doing a non-alc version, the places where we work are places where they’ve had a craft beer revolution, again, using the air quotes.

Jonathan  13:08  

So it’s kind of where the taste is already there for the IPA or for that kind of craft beer. And that’s really interesting because I spoke to Ronald Van der Streek. So one of the brothers who’s behind Vanderstreek, and he said the same thing, they started brewing their playground IPA in Germany and said that he was talking to the brewer there and essentially had to go through 10 reasons or seven reasons why, why they shouldn’t put hops in beer. And without having that back and forth with the German. So that makes sense that you’ve mentioned that tiny works and where there’s actually an appetite for that type of beer.

Jonathan  13:42  

That was a really interesting pays to hear about the way that non-alcoholic drinks are utilized around the world and how different companies and cultures embrace them and really take advantage of the opportunity that he’s out there. We went on to have a little bit of a chat around the way that the UK embraces these and how things are looking from an in-venue scene. So from a pub scene, and what you can expect from them in the UK going forward. And this is a really cool insight because hopefully, it leads us to a position where we’re able to follow suit and have a similar level of exposure in our pubs and restaurants going forward. So have a listen to what Rob has to say. And hopefully, it gives you some ideas around how you can get some drinks into your favourite pubs and bars as well. 

Jonathan  14:26  

On that note, again, in terms of the space more generally in the UK, how have you seen that grow since big drop have kind of come into the fore? Because it sounds like it’s also kegged? Right? Which means there’s an appetite for it in venue.

Rob  14:37  

Yeah, yeah, totally. We’re probably less so because of lockdowns and COVID and everything else, but I’ve just tried to think back to pre COVID times but it so what is 2020 so the end of 2019, the beginning of 2020 people were asking me what’s next for non alcoholic beer and my immediate answer was draft. We were starting to see the pub groups go on. 

Rob  15:00  

All right, okay, this is a good product is a premium product. It’s not a distressed purchase is not the thing that you sell to the pregnant lady or the driver. It’s a conscious choice from people who are, for whatever reason doesn’t matter what, just not on the booze or maybe there. Oh, is that it’s an Australian phrase. I think a wedgie. So you have a beer, then a soft drink that a beer then a soft drink. And then I love that. So he’s like, Oh, yeah, big drops the wedgie beer, we get it. Okay, that’s fine. 

Rob  15:31  

So yeah, absolutely. So we were starting to see the pull through from the pub groups to put it on draft, and then COVID, here, lockdowns, everything else. And now, just like everywhere else, our, you know, on-premise on trade sites are just coming out of that. And they’re less, they’re just sort of re-establishing themselves. So they’re not that fast about taking a chance on putting non alcoholic beer on draft. 

Rob  15:54  

But we’re starting to see trial, from the pub groups, you know, they’re testing out different brands, they’re testing out different ways of serving and all the rest of it. And and I think we’ll get back to that position where in the UK, there is that traction. And my ambition is that in due course, just like now, if you walk into a decent pub, there will be a craft beer on draft, you walk into a decent pub, and there will be a non alcoholic beer on draft. And I’d love that to be big drop. But you know, there will be other other brands are available. I think that that’s the the obvious trajectory that the sector.

Jonathan  16:29  

Yeah, absolutely. That’s where it’s going. And you’ve got the stability, round that out that allow the beer to be in a keg and then can be transported as well. And it also sounds like the markets internationally looking to kind of start growing their presence especially I noticed it down here that we’re looking to really expand our presence in venue in trying to get people more or venue owners more into tune with the fact that these options are available. And there are a few people down here that are doing that really quite well. And it just feels like in terms of the international presence. Have you found that it’s been easy enough to have your contract brewers locally, brew that for you and help get the product out there?

Rob  17:03  

There are plenty of problems with contract brewery as a business model. But I have to say that I always thought that there was an international opportunity because craft beer, broadly speaking defines itself by provenance. So it talks about where it’s from. Yeah, and that was because craft beer was a reaction against big beer, which doesn’t talk about where it’s from, at all. I bought a can or a couple of cans yesterday of my favorite us craft beer in my local corner shop, because it’s a very big beer is widely available. 

Rob  17:36  

I bought it. And I looked at the back of it. And I saw it was brewed in Belgium. So you can probably guess which companies brewing it now. And I was like, Oh, right. Okay, because Big Bear doesn’t when they’re not fussed about where it’s brewed, though, that you’re buying a brand. So craft beer was the reaction against that. So we big job, we never talked about where we were from, we talked about the fact that we were non alcoholic. 

Rob  17:54  

That was our USP. That’s what we talked about. And then I sort of thought, well, we’re not going to build a brewery because I can’t afford to build a brewery. That’s just a simple fact. So I’m going to contract, it sounds like oh, well hang on a minute. So if I brewed it in Australia, or the US, then it is an Australian beer or US Beer, because it’s brewed in Australia, by Australians using broadly speaking Australian ingredients. And there’s a big drop company in Australia. So heaven forbid, should we ever make any profit, then we’ll pay tax in Australia. 

Rob  18:23  

So you know, for all intents and purposes, you’re drinking Australian craft beer. And I say, wow, that’s brilliant. That’s genius. So I can go out and say, Yes, yeah, I’m English, but you’re drinking Australian beer. 

Rob  18:33  

And it’s only through contract brewing, that we’re able to do that. Because if we owned a brewery in the UK, we’d be talking about how we were a British beer, and then we need to have to ship it, which is not ever good for beer, especially no alcoholic beer, or we’d have to then outsource it, and then you’re compromising your brand message, which is we’re a local beer. 

Rob  18:50  

So the contract brewing is definitely helped. And it’s allowed us to scale up very, very quickly. So I can never remember the numbers. But if you think in the first year of big job, we sold like 1500 pints of beer. 

Rob  19:01  

And then I think last year, we sold like a million pints of beer or something in the space of four years. And we’re probably going to double in size every year for the next two or three years. So any brewery that we would have built at the beginning would have been redundant within a year. And then I’ve got to build another bridge. And then I’ve got build another bridge, and then I’ve got build another brewery and you’re not concentrating on growing your company, you’re just concentrating on buying bigger stainless steel tanks to brew beer and,

Jonathan  19:25  

And I think that’s a really good way of doing it right? Because it just means that you’ve got the ability to focus on what consumers want, which is the beer and then you buy in the expertise at the other end of it. And from your end, you’ve helped establish the market in the UK and then through the contract Brewer has been able to spread that message through to the world and I feel like given Australia was quite a way behind in the whole non alcoholic space. We’ve really been reaping the benefits of what the world has really enjoyed prior to us and down here. I know we’ve got the Uptown craft lager, the pine trail Pale Ale, the Paradiso so the Citra the IPA and the Galactic milk stout So, it would be good to learn a little bit around the range. But more broadly what the very first beer that you guys launched was.

Rob  20:06  

So you’ve got the core, what we call the core range down there. So you’re covering a multitude of sins. Oh, my PR guy will it will kill me if I don’t mention that uptown lager, one silver in the Melbourne beer awards, and the pile won a bronze medal because otherwise, he’s gonna listen to this. And he’s gonna be like, you can’t you did an Australian podcast and you didn’t mention the Melbourne beer with what are you doing? So there you go.

Jonathan  20:31  

As you just heard, the whole big drop range continues to be quite successful globally. And it’s winning quite a number of awards. So what I’ll do is I’ll link the whole range in today’s show notes over at And I’ll also include a couple of those links to the awards one recently, too. 

Jonathan  20:49  

But next up, I ended up chatting to Rob a little bit about the range they’ve got down here in Australia, and also the traits of each of those bees. So let’s hop back in and have a chat to Rob about the traits that each of the big drop range bees have to offer down here in Australia.

Rob  21:07  

So you’ve got the core four beers. So you’ve got the lager, which is a bit of a darker lager to give it a bit more backbone. And it’s really, really, really difficult to make good non alcoholic Pilsner style lager. 

Rob  21:19  

Because of this, because there’s no way to hide that the thing with non alcoholic beer is it doesn’t have the alcohol. And so therefore, by definition, it will be thinner. we compensate for that with sometimes maltodextrin, which is a non fermentable more product, or sometimes lactose, which is a non fermentable sugar. But if you don’t compensate for it, then it can be really thin and pilsners took about you know, your German friend with not wanting to put hops in beer, there are no big aromas there in Pilsner, so there’s really, really difficult to do so. 

Rob  21:46  

So our lager is a little bit darker to give it a bit more backbone, and then a pale ale and the IPA just really great light versions of the style. So I always say about our beers that if you try them blind, you just give them to somebody and say, drink this beer. There you go.

Rob  21:59  

Nobody drinks big drop and things are drinking a 7% New England IPA, that doesn’t happen. But if somebody drinks a big drop, and you say, Well, you know, what do you have strong? Do you think that is? People? Oh, I don’t know, you know, 3%, three and a half, something like that. 

Rob  22:12  

And those two are great examples, the Pale Ale and the IPA, the pine trail, and the Paradiso, where they have won awards in blind tastings against full-strength beers. They’re just really good, well-balanced light versions of those styles, great food every day. 

Rob  22:24  

I mean, obviously, they’re sessionable beers, you can drink until the cows come home, but just good for thirst-quenching, and then the stout that Galactic is now that is the first beer that we produced back in the end of 2016. And that was the beer Like I said, I prefer generally speaking darker beers. And that was the bit you just could not buy there was no such thing as a non alcoholic style didn’t exist. 

Rob  22:43  

There was one brand that said it was a stout, so it was from Portugal, but they coloured it with caramel. wasn’t wasn’t a stout at all. They just made some fizzy liquid and added caramel to it. So I don’t count that as a stout as not a stout. Yeah, and anyone that anyone who would listen to me back then was like, why the hell are you making a non alcoholic stout? 

Rob  23:01  

I mean, who drink stout anyway, I was I didn’t stout. No, yeah, but non alcoholic sounds like yeah, I want to drink non alcoholic stout. And so that was the first one that came out. And I’m really glad that it was because it is. I am obviously extremely biased, but it is a cracking beer. The recipe hasn’t changed for four or five years at all. It’s one an absolute ton of medals,

Jonathan  23:23  

It has it’s really done well in terms of its growth, and then its ability to actually collect some medals along the way. And knowing that I was talking to you, I have actually written up that review that will go live around the time this one goes live. And I’ll link that in the show notes at 

Jonathan  23:38  

So if you want to check out the review of the Galactic milk stout, it’ll be there as well. But in terms of the milk stout, actually, it’s one of kind of my favourite styles of beer given the history it’s had it kind of came from those early 19 hundred’s when it was given to labourers and people who were quite ill as an energy drink you know, air quotes energy drink. Yeah. And then hilariously given to mothers after child but so that was quite a funny piece around stout.

Jonathan  24:00  

I just love the history behind it.

Rob  24:01  

Nothing like a restorative milk stout after childbirth.

Jonathan  24:06  

It’s just a good one to have, isn’t it? But do you think the consumer taste because I know that that was one of my key things. When I saw there was a big heavy stout, more heavy mouthfeel stout, I should say from you guys. It was, well what drives you to do that and knowing that you love them. That makes sense. But in terms of the success of the product, do you think it was driven by people knowing in the UK that is quite a regular beer to drink? like they’ve all got Guinness over there, which is quite heavy. Do you think it was the tastes which helped us succeed?

Rob  24:30  

Again, I’m conscious that I’m patting myself on the back. I mean, I think first and foremost, the fact that it’s a good beer helps when I thought I was probably onto something in terms of a business idea. 

Rob  24:40  

I was at a conference for landlords, you know, managers of bars and pubs and stuff. And there’s a beer writer based in the UK called Pete Brown is a really nice guy. And he stood up in front of all these people. And he said, I’m going to surprise you today because I’m going to talk about non alcoholic beer. 

Rob  24:54  

This would have been 2017. And everyone like moaned and groaned, and he said, I’m gonna do this because it’s for the first time I’ve feel able to actually talk about three non alcoholic beers and the big drop stout. I think we only had two beers out there. And that was that in the Pale Ale i think but the big drops that was there. 

Rob  25:09  

And he said, The primary difference between a beer and a glass of water, pint of beer and a pint of water is if you drink a pint of water, you don’t want another one because you’re not thirsty anymore. If you drink a pint of good beer, then you want another one. That’s the difference between water and beer. And this, he says holding up the big drops down is the first non alcoholic beer that I’ve ever drunk. And then immediately thought, yes, I would like another one of those. 

Rob  25:32  

And I was like Bosh, boom, there we go. Pete Brown says that we’re not done yet. But we’re, we’re on our way. And that’s it is a good bit. But more broadly, what we try and do with our range is we’re talking about doing for non alcoholic beer, what craft beer did for beer, one of the things that craft beer did for beer is introduce a range. 

Rob  25:48  

So if you look at a good craft brewery, you go in, they don’t have three days, they’ve got 10, or 15. And they’ll have a call range that they know that they’re going to sell through this good 4% Pale Ale and they know they’re going to sell through this good 5% lager. 

Rob  26:02  

So they’ve got a call range, but they experiment and they give people choice and options, and different flavours. And so that is what we’ve always tried to do in the UK is easier because we’re all you know, most of us are based here that’s out this is our home market. 

Rob  26:14  

But when we launch in a market, we always say we want to do a minimum of free. We don’t want to go into a country and say yeah, we’re going to launch with one because that’s not who we are. That’s not what we do. And so we are working hard to ensure that in Australia, that range will expand. So it won’t just be those four beers will expand. And so the stouts just part of that. It’s just part of the portfolio. 

Jonathan  26:35  

And I think in terms of expanding the range, I have had a few questions about the sour and whether that’s forms part of any of your plans to make its way down here, I reckon I’d be in quite a bit of trouble. If I didn’t ask that question.

Rob  26:48  

I can tell you that this hour is probably not going to be the next one. The sound is funny because it does. It is He divides the room this hour. And I actually, I don’t like sour beers. I went to Belgium on a weekend break with my wife a few years ago. And I was like, right, this is where they make the great sour beers. Let’s go to this bar that specializes in sour beers. They did a tasting flight, there was an education piece. I liked none of them. I mean, there’s just not what I want to drink. But again, goes back to the secret some people do so we will provide a sour is it going to come to Australia? Probably? Is it going to come in the next 12 months? Probably not sorry?

Jonathan  27:24  

And what’s on your list to get us next

Rob  27:26  

Well, then I’d be in trouble with my marketing person who would tell me off because she would, she would tell me off for spoiling this price.

Jonathan  27:33  

And in terms of the range that we’ve got down here in terms of the pine trail ale and the Paradiso themselves for people who are still new and getting into that range into the big drop range. How would you describe them both to someone coming to them for the first time?

Rob  27:45  

Yeah, sure. So you’ve out of the four, you’ve got the lager as I said, which is as you know, easy drinking, not hoppy at all. So just straightforward, light lager, but refreshing good barbecue drinking, then probably the next one up in terms of flavour and aroma would be the pine trail, which is like that that’s a sort of classic British Pale Ale.

Rob  28:06  

It’s more bitter than what you might call a US West Coast IPA, it’s got bittering hops, but that makes it in and of itself, very refreshing. Don’t think that you drink it and you’d feel like you’re sucking a lemon or anything. That’s not, that’s not it. But it gives you that nice little bit of bitterness on the back of your throat that just makes it quite refreshing. 

Rob  28:23  

You know, someone says to me, or what should I try first in the big drop range, I would usually point them in a direction of the pine trail, that’s a good one to start with. And then the Paradiso is more of that us West Coast style of beer, so there’s a bit more fruit in it, so it’s not a better so you’ve got a bit of mango bit of citrus in there, make it with citra hops. 

Rob  28:41  

So that’s, that’s a really refreshing one juicy one that’s really nice. That’s just starting to overtake the pine trail as the biggest seller, pine tree has been out longer. So it’s got more listings than the Paradiso so but that style of beer is incredibly popular. 

Rob  28:54  

And then right at the other end of the scale is the Galactic style, it’s a lovely there is nice, it’s really well balanced a lot of styles. The problem with a lot of stouts is when people brew stouts, they think they have to do stupid things with it. So they put licorice in it, or they smoke it or they you know, and it’s like our God, and then they brew it to 8%.

Rob  29:11  

And it’s insanely hard to brew a well balanced 8% beer, but whether it’s a stout or any other style. So I think one of the reasons that asked out does so well is that it is well balanced. So there’s chocolate notes in there, there’s definitely coffee in there. It’s got a really good mouthfeel to it. 

Rob  29:26  

Would I drink it while I was doing a barbecue? No, I drink the Pine Trail. But actually, if you’re sitting down in the evening, and you’re watching some TV or reading a book or something, it’s a good one to sit down and indulge yourself with.

Jonathan  29:37  

That’s quite funny, because that’s how I’ve mentioned both of them. So the pine trail and the lager are kind of barbecue beers and I think I went for the stout was more of the Netflix and chocolate sort of beer when you’re sitting at home and you want to relax and wind down for the evening. Yeah, and it really sounds like they both have their own little niches to follow through with and have kind of people enjoy.

Rob  29:55  

Yeah, and it goes back to this whole point which I always say about Big Drop which is we’re about giving people Choice a different flavor. 

Rob  30:01  

So wherever you are in your day or in your week anything are I want to be, Oh, hang on, do I want the alcohol? No, I don’t want the alcohol now, fine, are going to have a big job. But whatever time of day it is, you’re going to have a big job that you’re going to like flavor wise. And that fits with the occasion that you find yourself in whatever that might be. Yeah, that’s what which is just what we’re trying to do.

Jonathan  30:21  

That’s a really important point of just giving people the choice to make the call of Oh, I’ve got to drive today, or I’ve got to drive tonight or I’ve got to get up early in the morning. So I want to non alcoholic option and just have something which we’ve kind of spoken about for the duration of the podcast is that it just has to taste good.

Rob  30:35  

Yeah, this is it’s like this is the beginning again. Sorry. I’m banging on about this get boring, isn’t it? But people are gonna have a beer. It will taste rubbish, doesn’t it? So yeah. So what if we made some good non alcoholic beer? You think? Well, we could do and they’re like, no, it all tastes rubbish. I’m like, No, no, no, no, that stuff tastes rubbish. We’re going to make good stuff and nobody will taste rubbish and got off of gods, right. Okay, I’m not talking to you anymore. You go away over here. Let me go make this stuff and then you try it and then we’ll talk again. 

Rob  31:00  

And that’s still the challenge that we get. That’s still a challenge that we have. But I think broadly speaking now as you work in the drinks industry, you understand now that there are good non alcoholic beer options. 

Rob  31:09  

Of course big drop is the finest but you know, there are other other non alcoholic beers are available. And there are good ones. There are still rubbish ones.

Rob  31:16  

What does wind me up actually is this this happens a lot in the UK now is that you have a brewery who’s never a good brewery. They make good beer, good alcoholic beer, but they see the non alcoholic beer. And they’re like, Oh, well, we need to do one of those, don’t we? Yeah, right. Okay, quick. We need it. Right. And you can imagine the boardroom phones down. Steve, Steve, Steve, the brewer, we need a non alcoholic beer. You know, and you can hear Steve Brewer rolling his eyes going off. For God’s sake really do it? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. No, the chairman said we need a non alcoholic beer. Right? Okay, fine. We’ll do it. Right. That’s right, the idiots upstairs and said we need a non alcoholic beer. Let’s wack one out. And then because it’s a good brewery, you know, it gets shelf space, it gets some press, it gets some attention. You try it. And it’s like, well, this is rubbish. And all that that’s doing is continuing people’s view who try that the non alcoholic beer is rubbish. And it’s not anymore. It doesn’t need to be rubbish. So that’s what makes me cross.

Jonathan  32:02  

I guess there’s always a space for people to take the opportunity. But I do feel like when you’re the bigger brewery and you haven’t got that ability to be nimble and change, like someone like a big drop does, it’s almost like that, sit back and wait just a little bit to make sure that you’ve got it right. So you don’t actually hurt yourself in the long run. And like you said, I think there’s kind of a little bit of that jumping out a bit, just a smidge too early because a lot of the big guys like you said aren’t quite there yet. Whereas if you look at some of the most of the craft guys, they’re all really really producing some goodies. Yeah,

Rob  32:30  

Completely completely and that’s it and I welcome breweries, whether you’re purely non alcoholic or whether you’re alcoholic with and you want to you want to put a non alcohol. 

Rob  32:38  

I welcome that because I’m definitely with the you know, a rising tide floats all boats kind of mindset. As long as the beer you’re putting out is good. You know, that’s that’s the key. That’s the key don’t don’t put out rubbish but you wouldn’t put out a rubbish alcoholic beer. So don’t put out a rubbish non alcoholic beer. And it’s not just being dropped. But other brands have shown that don’t they don’t have to be rubbish so they can be they can be very good. So yeah,

Rob  33:04  

that’s that’s, that’s where I am.

Jonathan  33:06  

Absolutely. And I think before we finish up I don’t think I’d be able to let you go without asking you what your second favorite because I know what your first favorite is being the stout one question around what your second favorite beer in the ranges

Rob  33:17  

So you can’t get it anymore. I’m just looking around see if I’ve got a cat because it was one of our collaboration brews. We did a collaboration set for pack collaboration set with four breweries, one in Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland.

Rob  33:31  

The guys in Finland with Johnny Brewer came up with a rye IPA. And it was it was beautiful. I mean, it was dark gold red kind of color. grassy notes. Wonderful hopping. Good bitterness. I still dream about that beer. Sometimes they sold out very, very quickly put it that way. 

Rob  33:50  

Just Yeah, nice a nice sort of twist on an IPA. So you had the hops, but there was a bit of mold there. And a bit of a twist to it was lovely. That one number two. Unfortunately, you can’t get it anymore even in the UK. So maybe I should have a word with the guys and we should re-release it 

Jonathan  34:04  

That sounds perfect. I am do look forward to seeing the new range when they drop down here. And in the meantime, I’ll be I think I’ll reach for Paradiso tonight, I’ve got a few in my fridge. I found them, the distribution of that beer is starting to grow that one had a similarly limited distribution locally here. But it’s now growing, which is great. It’s been really great to chat with you today. 

Jonathan  34:21  

And I learned a lot about the background to big drop as well. And it’s been good to learn a little bit more about it and to hear about how it’s looking to move forward. 

Rob  34:28  

An absolute pleasure, always a pleasure. 

Jonathan  34:32  

Well, I really hope that you enjoyed today’s episode with Rob and you learn something new about the big drop range or just the way the industry is progressing. And it was awesome to hear that in the UK that pub groups are starting to really embrace the alcoholic drinks and a really hard to that comes down to Australia and we start seeing that push into venue as well. But if you are looking for information on the big drop ears, you will find them over at and then you will find information and reviews on the Uptown craft lager, the pine trail Pale Ale and the Galactic milk stout. So until next time, I hope you have a great rest of your week and you find some amazing non-alcoholic drinks along the way.

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Are Non Alcoholic Drinks Worth It?: Non-Alcoholic Drinks Podcast

On episode #002 we confront the elephant in the room, the question on everyone’s lips.  “Are non-alcoholic drinks worth it?”
You will have the topic broken down by looking at:

  • Aroma;
  • Taste; and
  • Mouthfeel.

and by the end, you’ll be able to hone in on drinks perfect for your pallet and have some recommendations you need to try. How do over 40 beers and 10 spirits sound?

Are non-alcoholic drinks worth it?
Jonathan Lambrianidis - Tipple Zero Founder

? Not So Low-Key Non-Alcoholic Drinks Nerd!

Bringing you your #1 non alcoholic drinks podcast.
Passionate about getting the word out there, sharing new discoveries and stories from the people I meet along the way are my ‘why’. Whether it is an inspiring non-alcoholic journey, spicy zero alcohol Gin or a creamy milk 0.5% ABV Milk Stout we’ll bring it all to you.