profile series: innovators in low/no alcohol
My Drynuary: 'Seeing how a product we created can positively impact a customer's life is the best feeling out there'
BD: Introduce us to Drop Bear Beer!
My wife Sarah and I have a love for food and drink as well as travelling to immerse ourselves in different cultures. It was in mid 2018 when Sarah decided to take a break from alcoholic beverages, and I chose to join her. Because of our love for food and drink we found it challenging to find restaurants that offered non-alcoholic drinks, especially ones that tasted good! We both decided to start in our own kitchen with a saucepan and the help of YouTube DIY 'brewing' videos. We found ourselves brewing in the kitchen late at night, a 'side hustle' if you will. We got to a point of wanting to perfect the recipes we had made in order to launch the actual brand. Finally, we quit our 9-5 jobs and put our savings into the beginning of the business. Drop Bear Beer officially launched in 2019 and now we run The World’s First LGBTQ+ Owned Alcohol-Free Brewery.
When Covid hit in 2020, forcing pubs and bars to close, we shifted our strategy to focus on online sales on Amazon – sales increased by 2000% within 6 months (March – Sep 2020). Amazon fuelled our growth and placed our products in front of consumers hopping on the “no and low” trend which was increasingly gaining momentum in the UK.
Two years on from our launch, we have achieved carbon neutrality and B-Corp certification and won over 20 awards for our beers. Looking ahead, we want to continue putting sustainability at the fore, particularly with the brewery and have joined Amazon Launchpad with a goal to leverage Amazon’s German warehouse to reach more of the European market. We experienced 100% growth in Q4 compared to the previous year, in part because of the features and support of Launchpad.
Outside of the UK, what markets can we find your products in?
We’re currently shipping to Finland, Singapore, New Zealand, Hong Kong.
What sets your brand apart from the rest?
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, the quality of our beer sets us apart. Our beer is real beer and is traditionally brewed, and you really can tell.
Secondly, as a brand, we genuinely stand for something as our core mission is to brew the best 0.5% ABV craft beers and build a better world in which to drink them.
This is reflected in the fact that we're the world's first and only carbon neutral alcohol-free brewer, we're B Corp certified, and our charity partner is Galop, the UK's leading LGBT+anti violence charity.
Drop Bear Beer is a brand and product without compromise, and we want to ensure our brand is open and accessible to everyone.
How have you see the low/no market change since 2019? And how do you expect to see the market evolve further in 2023?
Attitudes have changed dramatically. Consumers are far more open minded to trying alcohol-free and have far more positive experiences. They understand the point of the product and demand is higher and more frequent. We expect to see stockists i.e. supermarkets and bars increasing their ranges, ensuring customers can have easy access to products they like on the shelves. We expect customers to be focused on quality and to be a bit more sensitive on price, we as a brand will need to bear that in mind given the challenging economic climate we all face.
What does January look like for you? Does it translate into a sales peak or is it more about building awareness?
Both to be honest. Sales peak for direct-to-consumer in January, whilst much of the trade industry stock up in December to hit the ground running in January.
January is the perfect time to drive trials amongst new customers who might not usually buy alcohol-free. We find that once people try the beers and realise how good alcohol-free can taste, they come back for more when they're looking to moderate or take a weekend off the booze.
And what should we look out for from your company in the rest of 2023?
The opening of our own brewery will be the most exciting thing we do in 2023, with more listings across the UK and beyond, and some exciting marketing campaigns over the Summer!
What does your job involve?
My responsibilities are managing our sales and marketing teams, providing clear direction to ensure we create a brand that both we and consumers can be proud of and securing significant growth of our brand. This ranges from working with content creators to create exciting posts for social media to attending high value sales meetings with my sales team. I also manage investor relations and sustainability at Drop Bear, so there's always a lot to do and learn. No two days are the same!
What inspires you on your low/no alcohol journey?
Our biggest inspiration has to be our customers. Seeing how a product that we imagined and created can positively impact a customer's life is the best feeling out there.
What’s your favourite product from your line-up and why?
I genuinely enjoy all four of our beers, they're all very different from each other so it generally depends on what mood I'm in. I do, however, seem to reach for a Tropical IPA more often than not, I just love the intensity of flavour with fruity notes with a crisp hop bitterness to boot - the perfect beer in my opinion! You'd never know it's alcohol free.