Big Drop Founders - James Kindred + Rob Fink - 0004 copy

Big Drop founders James Kindred (left) and Rob Fink

Alcohol-free craft brewer Big Drop has smashed a multimillion-pound crowdfunding target as it aims to expand availability in supermarkets and bring non-alcoholic beer to more consumers.

Big Drop is already listed in selected Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose and Morrisons stores, as well as Ocado and Milk & More. Its brews are also available on draught across the on-trade, including at Mitchells & Butlers sites.

The brand recently won a second listing with Waitrose for its Poolside Double Dry Hopped IPA, which now sits alongside the Paradiso IPA. Ocado and Sainsbury’s are also introducing new SKUs.

Big Drop hit its £2.2m fundraising goal ahead of its crowd campaign going public thanks to high levels of preregistered interest. It has currently raised £2.3m from more than 300 investors on the Seedrs platform, valuing the brewer at £14.2m.

Existing private investors pledged £1.2m to the round, including ex-Molson Coors CEO Mark Hunter; Bluepoint VC, founded by Heineken’s former European boss Stefan Orlowski; and Panoramic Growth Equity.

The new funds will be used to help widen distribution in UK supermarkets, increasing draught presence in pubs and building on its international business in Australia and the US.

Co-founder Rob Fink told The Grocer supermarkets were an important entry point for drinkers looking to try alcohol-free beer.

“While the on-trade has historically been the gateway for drinks producers looking to trial and launch new products or brands, in the UK it has been the supermarkets that have led the way,” he said.

“Big Drop will be using a portion of the funds raised in its most recent successful crowdfunding round to help retailers continue to drive growth in this category.”

The alcohol-free market has experienced a boom in recent years in the UK, with the total low & no alcohol category, including beer, cider, wines and spirits, growing 19.8% to £262.1m in the grocery channel [Kantar 52 w/e 20 February 2022], according to the most recent Grocer report in April.

Beer’s share of the category rose 9.9% to £69.5m.

Big Drop claimed to be the world’s first brewer dedicated to alcohol-free beer when former City lawyer Rob Fink and friend James Kindred launched the brand in 2016.

Over the past five years, Big Drop has received £6.5m in equity finance, including a £3.5m Series A round completed 18 months ago and an earlier crowd round in 2020.

Big Drop’s range of craft beers are all <0.5% abv, including stouts, lagers, pale ales, IPAs and brown ales, as well as special editions and collaborations with other brewers.

It is also available in more than 20 countries and brews in the US and Australia.

Alongside the funding round, the business announced it had entered a joint venture with Illinois-based contract brewer Destihl to widen the retail distribution footprint to 37 US states.

Big Drop is currently available with retailers in six US states and online nationwide via Better Rhodes, the largest alcohol-free community and online retailer in North America.