Dropping the alcohol, not the flavour – that’s the mantra of The Drop Bear Beer Co. a new brewery that brings female chutzpah to the male-dominated world of brewing.
Founded in Mumbles earlier this year by ‘Melburnian’ Sarah McNena, and ‘Swansea Jack’ Joelle Drummond, Drop Bear’s non-alcoholic beer is already making waves.
A decidedly Welsh-Australian enterprise, the brewery’s quirky name has antipodean roots along with a personal connection for the couple, who met in Sarah’s native Australia.
Explains Sarah, “The Drop Bear is essentially a bit of fun Australians have with visitors. Tourists are told to look out for this mythical koala bear dropping on them from the trees – and Joelle fell for the joke too!”
The pair aim to ‘disrupt’ the traditional view of the non-alcoholic beer market, and have successfully produced 100% natural beverages that are below 0.5% ABV, vegan-friendly, low calorie, low sugar, and additive-free.
At 0.3 ABV Tropical IPA is – as its name suggests – ‘tropical, fruity, and sessionable’, while the 0.4 ABV Yuzu Pale Ale is ‘fruity, tart, and fresh’. They will be joined this autumn by Drop Bear’s stout which promises to be ‘dark, edgy, and packing a’tude.’
At 25 and 27 respectively, Joelle and Sarah are at the heart of the healthy lifestyle-conscious millennial market they want to capture.
Says Joelle, “We want to prove that real beer doesn’t need alcohol to have fun, and we aren’t scared to push boundaries. We are millennials, and they are the fastest growing demographic. They and we want something with more kick and excitement, and a brand they can relate to.”
Likewise, female empowerment Joelle says is at the core of Drop Bear’s ethos, and the pair are keen to champion women in what is a predominantly male-dominated arena.
“We are the only alcohol-free craft beer company in the UK that’s run by women.”
Local government project manager Sarah, and former French and Italian translator Joelle, began their brewing journey in their kitchen.
Apart from Sarah having previously made some homebrew, the pair were complete novices when it came to creating a craft beer – but they knew what they wanted to achieve.
Says Joelle, “We started with a big saucepan, a jam thermometer, and a load of grain and gave it a go!”
By trial and error “there were long nights and an exploding fermenter”, the pair eventually came up with recipes they liked – and enlisted the help of experts in the industry to ensure their beers would pass muster in the highly competitive brewing sector.
Explains Sarah, “As we don’t have a brewing background, we contacted a master brewer and sommelier who looked at our recipes and gave us advice.”
Only a couple of months into production and Drop Bear beers are already making significant in-roads with a Michelin-starred restaurant a customer, and the opportunity to showcase their beer at an event in the House of Commons. Also, the beers are available to buy online from www.drydrinker.com.
However, without the current capacity to brew on a commercial scale at home, for now, Drop Bear beers are produced in Yorkshire, but the plan is to bring the whole process to Wales as soon as possible.
Says Joelle, “We want to show what Wales and women have to offer in the brewing industry.”
Joelle and Sarah have been helped in their brewing adventure by Cywain – a Menter a Busnes delivered project that supports the development of growth orientated businesses in the food and drink sector in Wales.
Says Joelle, “Cywain has been great, especially with networking opportunities and advice on running the financial side of the business. They have run a number of workshops and 1-2-1 sessions covering a range of topics such as sales, distribution channels, and business health.
“All of this is provided free of charge, which I’m sure you can understand is key for a business in its early days. Cywain are also just generally lovely people and we look forward to attending a number of events with them in the near future!”
Says Cywain Development Manager, Nerys Adams, “”It’s been great working with Joelle and Sarah over the past couple of months and seeing massive progression in such a short space of time. The girls have taken full advantage of the support on offer from Cywain attending a finance surgery, a sales and marketing workshop to name but a few.
They are working very hard to establish themselves in a male dominated sector and I’m excited to see what happens next for them. I’m sure they’re going to make a great success of the business and I’m delighted that Cywain is playing a part in helping them achieve their ambitions”.