Award-winning Big Drop Brewing Co joins the sober tap takeover
When you think of boozers, the first thing your mind turns to is, well, BOOZE. But Aigburth micropub and distillery, The Little Taproom, is bucking that trend with an eye-boggling range of alcohol-free beers that taste just as good as they look.
If you've given up alcohol it shouldn't be a reason to take that social element out of your life
As part of their regular “Tap Residencies” - where a single guest brewery has their own beer line to showcase their products for a month - October at The Little Taproom will see Big Drop Brewing Co’s Pine Trail alcohol-free pale ale available throughout the month to coincide with Macmillan Cancer Support's Go Sober for October campaign.
Owners of The Little Taproom, Aggy Perreau and Si Vanderbelt, are firm believers that the pub is a central part of any community, and if people want to take up a challenge to quit the booze for a month, they shouldn't have to miss out on the atmosphere of their local.
“There's lots of good reasons to take up the October challenge, whether it's to raise money for a great cause, just as a personal challenge to oneself or maybe a time to reassess our relationship with alcohol,” says Si.
“I used to be teetotal when we first opened this pub - then lockdown happened, so I started drinking again,” Aggy laughs.
“When I was teetotal, it's nice going to a cafe, but I like to go to the pub and I don't just want to drink Coca Cola all the time. Also, you don't always want people asking you questions; ‘why aren't you drinking, are you pregnant, are you an alcoholic?’ That's none of your business.
“Had I been able to go to a place and have a draft beer, I would have really appreciated that.”
The Little Taproom was born from Si and Aggy’s shared vision for the perfect pub. Opening on Friday 13 March 2020, one week before the national lockdown, was obviously far from ideal, but the pair have found a lot of support from the local community.
“We did think about the city centre, but because we wanted a real community pub, we thought being in the suburbs would be better,” says Aggy.
“We want to know our customers and for them to know us. And I actually think that us being in this location helped us survive during the lockdowns.”
When the country shut down for COVID-19, the pub’s website became an e-commerce site for deliveries and takeaway, with punters queuing at the door to have their receptacles filled up - from giant glass bottles to one fella who brought a punch bowl with him.
“People really did have our back,” says Aggy. “We had people saying that they were buying from us because they didn’t want us to go under, which was amazing.”
The Little Taproom serves a range of bevs from independent breweries from right across the world, including a selection of gluten-free and alcohol-free beer, both on draft and in cans. The selection rotates to keep it fresh, but has included alcohol-free craft lager, stout, pale ale, and a grapefruit IPA.
It’s a refreshing change from the typical choice of boring old Beck’s Blue or a soft drink, and makes a lot of sense for those who want to consume less or no alcohol, for whatever reason.
“I've always been very aware that plenty of our customers do it,” says Si.
“The pub is a little community place that you can come along on your own, with your partner or with a friend, start gabbing to someone else on the next table, or at the bar. If you've given up alcohol it shouldn't be a reason to take that social element out of your life. The pub primarily is a social place.”
Aggy says it was really important to her that they created a space where women can come down on their own.
“That was my goal. I thought if women start coming by themselves to the pub, then we've achieved what we wanted, because there's not many pubs where women will do that,” she says.
“We try to be very welcoming. I make a point of going to talk to people who are alone. You know, by all means, read your book and drink your drink but if you do want to chat, at least you know that we're here to chat to you.”
The last 18 months have highlighted that communities play an important part in every aspect of our lives. With boozers closing down all over the place, it’s heartwarming to see how The Little Taproom has transformed a former ceramics shop into an inclusive social space.
The bar has a broad appeal, from students to pensioners. The snug at the back has books and board games, children are allowed inside before 7pm and it’s dog-friendly - resident pooch ‘Hotch’ has become something of a local celebrity.
Non-beer drinkers are very welcome and The Little Taproom distills its own spirits including Laika Vodka, Sefton Park Gin and Snekkja Spiced Rum, all of which I’m looking forward to sampling in November.
In the meantime, I’ll crack open a can of Big Drop Brewing Co alcohol-free APA, and drink to a hangover free October. Cheers.
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