Binary Botanical: ‘A beer best served and drunk in a wine-like fashion’

By Rachel Arthur contact

- Last updated on GMT

Binary Botanical
Binary Botanical

Related tags: Beer, botanicals, NABLAB, Uk

Launched by former SABMiller Global Brewing Innovation Director, Binary's botanical beer offers mindful drinkers a ‘lighter, beer-like alternative to a glass of wine’.

Coming in at 4% ABV, the botanical beer is brewed with both hops and hop leaves: resulting in a ‘sophisticated, tangy beverage reminiscent of Prosecco’.

It seeks to provide a lower alcohol alternative to occasions previously best suited to a 12% ABV glass of wine.

And the brand has also launched a 0.5% version for those seeking to cut back alcohol consumption further.

Less sweet than cider; more sophisticated than juice

After 20 years with SABMiller and AB InBev – and with a MBA and MSc in Malting & Brewing under her belt – Danielle Bekker co-founded Good Living Brewing Co and the Binary Botanical brand in the UK back in 2018.

Based on the outskirts of the South Downs National Park, the brand launched with a 4% ABV beer, seeking to provide a ‘lighter, beer-like alternative to a glass of wine’.

The drink seeks to appeal to drinkers who wouldn’t usually turn to beer: but want something lower in alcohol than wine and something less sweet than a cider and more sophisticated than a fruit juice.

While most beers are brewed using hop cones, Binary Botanical is infused with organic hop leaves which normally go to waste (The beer still uses hops, however, but at a very low level – ‘hops are key for delivering that beer refreshment’).

binary botanical inset pour

The hop leaves are what makes the beer a botanical beer: contributing a ‘unique tangy slightly herbal taste – almost like a tea infusion’.

Hop leaves are added during fermentation where they are infused for a minimum of five days.

The brand sources organic hops in Worcester and uses two English varieties: Sovereign and First Gold (both bred in 1995 at Wye College in the UK).   

I guess all beer is botanical with the use of the hops, but the addition of a different flavour through the leaves is what we are trying to convey,"​ Bekker explained to BeverageDaily. 

"It’s of interest because not only does it deliver a completely different flavour profile, it is also very sustainable with its use of a waste product as a core ingredient.”

binary botanical Danielle holding leaf
Danielle Bekker with Binary Botanical's secret ingredient: hop leaves

So what’s the result when it comes to taste? It is very aromatic, a lot of tropical fruit notes - passion fruit, peach, grapefruit etc.  It is quite tangy with a slightly herbal taste (pepper, rosemary) due to the hop leaf infusion. 

"It's sugar free: so it’s definitely more tangy towards the kombucha end of the spectrum. It is slightly less carbonated than a normal beer so that is less bloating when you have it with food.  The mouthful is light – definitely not full bodied –with slight astringency.”

Bekker says the botanical beer pairs well with a variety of cuisines, as well as making a base for cocktails (served, for example, in a stemmed glass with cucumber and rosemary or with orange and fresh mint as a spritz alternative).

Developing a 0.5% version

binary botanical cocktail

With a 4% ABV beer that is designed to be drunk like a 12% ABV wine, Binary Botanical can help drinkers cut the volume of alcohol consumed.

But for consumers seeking to cut their alcohol intake further, Binary Botanical has since launched a 0.5% version.

We spent our first year really getting our branding and consumer profile correct: and then getting the recipe for the 0.5% took a while which is why it was launched later," ​said Bekker.

“It’s a brewed 0.5% ABV – the brewing process and ingredients designed to limit fermentable sugar production.

"The 0.5% is definitely lighter – I would say more like a non-alcoholic adult drink instead of lime and soda to have with a meal whereas the 4% is a low alcohol alternative to a glass of wine with some added refreshment.”

Binary Botanical is celebrating a new listing with Sainsbury’s, hitting shelves at the supermarket at the beginning of November.

Becoming a beverage entrepreneur

Until founding Binary Botanical in 2018, Bekker was AB InBev’s Global Product and Process Innovation Director. So what’s the transition to beer and beverage entrepreneur been like?

“There have been so many learnings!"​ said Bekker. "Firstly, no back-up people or departments – finance, procurement etc – it’s all down to you! Secondly having now seen things at the consumer interface, I see how important it is to spend more time with consumers – thinking about things like the simplicity of message and really seeing how consumers perceive your brand.   And you’re forced to be far more creative given limited budgets.  It’s also much easier to pivot and make quick decisions than in a large global organisation which has been really helpful in these uncertain times.” 

Picture credits: Binary Botanical

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