Two of the UK’s top craft brewers have been tasked by the NHS to produce a special alcohol-free beer to serve to dementia patients for a trial being run at a Welsh hospital.
‘Sundown’ is named in reference to the increased agitation and confusion that dementia patients typically experience in late afternoon or early evening, known as sundowning. It’s being served at the ‘Derwen Arms’, a fully-functioning pub within the Cefn Coed Hospital in Swansea, which is pioneering the concept of encouraging patients do the things they would normally do before being diagnosed with dementia.
The key difference between the Derwen Arms and a normal pub, however, is that all the drinks must be alcohol-free. So help was enlisted from local brewery, Boss Brewing, who collaborated with alcohol-free beer specialist, Big Drop Brewing, to create an authentic beer and supply it free of charge. Sundown is brewed to just 0.5% ABV and in the classic Brown Ale style most accurately reflecting the ‘pint after work’ that patients/patrons are likely to recognise.
There is evidence that the quality of care and patient engagement have improved, and pharmacological intervention has reduced as a result of this initiative.
Clinical Lead at Cefn Coed Hospital, Dawn Griffin, said: “In the evenings some of our gentlemen can get unsettled. They think they’ve finished their shift for the day and they are of the generation where they would go to the pub for a pint with their friends after work. We thought what better way to help them than to get a pub on the ward. The reaction has been huge. They’re socialising well and can take their relatives and friends there for a pint when they visit. They often ask us when the pub is opening.”
As well as increased socialisation, the positive effects on the lives of patients also include healthy weight gain and a reduction in the need for medication.
According to Ward Manager, Kath Protheroe: “Even in these early days the Derwen Arms has had a huge impact on the service we are able to provide. There is evidence that the quality of care and patient engagement have improved, and pharmacological intervention has reduced as a result of this initiative.”
Rob Fink, Founder of Big Drop added: “When our friends over at Boss Brewing explained the dilemma at their nearby hospital we jumped at the chance to help out. It’s such a brilliant idea to recreate a pub as a safe haven for patients who are no longer able to visit their local themselves. And, because it’s all about creating a sense of familiarity, we’ve made Sundown as authentic as possible. It’s made in much the same way as any normal craft beer so it looks, smells and tastes the same as a pint does too. It just happens to be alcohol-free. We shared the expertise that goes into making Big Drop with Boss Brewing so that they can now make sure the beer flows freely at the Derwen Arms.”
Big Drop’s Awards & Accolades
Big Drop’s Pale Ale was named World’s Best Pale Beer (low strength) at the World Beer Awards 2017.
Its Stout won a Gold Medal at the International Beer Challenge and a UK Silver Medal at the World Beer Awards when judged against full-strength stouts and porters. It also won a Gold medal at the US Open Beer Championship.
Its Citra IPA was crowned ‘King of Craft’ at the 2019 Casual Dining show, which was dominated by full-strength beers. It also won the overall Champion’s trophy for ‘Non and Low Alcohol Beer’ at The International Brewing and Cider Awards and a Silver medal at the US Open Beer Championship.
Big Drop was also one of three ‘Best Drinks Producers’ in the 2018 BBC Food & Farming Awards.
“Big Drop specialises in alcohol-free beer and it’s all good. I tried the pale ale and the lager, too, and both are excellent, but the stout really is the business.” — Adrian Chiles, The Guardian
“The most impressive no/low alcohol beer I have ever tried; no argument, it just is.” — Melissa Cole, British Guild of Beer Writers
“In my view, by far the best of the low-alcohol brigade is Big Drop Brewing Co. All its beers come in at just 0.5%, and all of them are excellent – the stout in particular is a jaw-dropper. Superb flavour without compromise.” — Olly Smith, Mail on Sunday
About Big Drop
Headquartered in Suffolk, Big Drop was launched in October 2016 by the-then City lawyer Rob Fink, along with his school-friend/band-mate and kindred spirit, James Kindred. The idea for a brewing business that only made alcohol-free beer was conceived by their own lifestyle changes (eg fatherhood) and born out of the frustration of there being no decent tasting low alcohol craft beer available to quench their thirst. Along with renowned experimental brewer, Johnny Clayton (formerly of Wild Beer), they’ve perfected techniques to make alcohol-free craft beer without the need for artificial removal of alcohol. The result doesn’t compromise on taste and yet is no more than 0.5% ABV. Big Drop doesn’t just use barley. It uses barley, rye, wheat and oats. And it doesn’t use just one type of each. Across its beers, it uses over 20 speciality grains. And then it uses lactose which boosts the mouthfeel and avoids the watery texture that blights many alcohol-free beers. Its range of seven beers, which it contract brews in batches through a panel of expert brewing partners, includes Stout, Lager, Pale Ale, Citra IPA, Brown Ale, Winter Ale and a Sour.
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