As anyone who knows me knows, I love beer. I’ve been a craft beer guy for a long time and have tasted just about every beer flavor you can imagine. I also realize that constant consumption of alcohol and the calories that go with it is not always the best for you. So I’ve been seeking out some alternatives that can give me some of that same flavor profile, yet not burden my waistline any more than it needs to be. Plus, sometimes it’s nice to have a beer in the middle of the afternoon when you’re working from home (as we all are now) and not feel weird about “drinking” at work.
Enter N/A beers. Over the past few months I’ve been exploring the new frontier of craft non-alcoholic beers. No longer are we stuck with things like O’Doul’s, but there is an entire marketplace filled with some pretty decent options, and it seems like more and more are entering the space every month. Even some local craft breweries are getting into the act.
Before I talk about what I’ve found that I like, I do need to acknowledge that nothing you will find in N/A will taste exactly like the beer you’re used to. That’s because alcohol is a flavor, and it’s not one that’s easy to duplicate effectively. Therefore, you need to temper your expectations and understand that you’re not going into this for beer, but non-alcoholic beer. It’s different, and that’s OK.
Something that surprised me when I started tasting some of these beers was that even the big breweries were getting into the market space, and doing a good job of it.
- Coors Edge is a pretty decent corn-tasting lager that has that same crispness and refreshing feeling that a cheap beer does. It’s also pretty widely available.
- Heineken 0.0 is another big brewery entry that really nails that simple macro-brew taste in a zero-percent package. This one is probably about the closest thing I’ve come to real beer in the N/A space.
On the smaller side there’s a few breweries that are making a big splash.
- Partake Pale is a really solid entry, as is their IPA. I haven’t been able to find their stout yet, but from the pictures, it actually gets closer to the real color than other ones I’ve seen.
- Wellbeing Brewing does a really solid Golden Wheat, and their Dark Amber isn’t too bad either. A little bit sweet, but not cloying. I’ve got a couple other new ones of theirs on the way, so I’m anxious to try those.
- Hairless Dog is one that is local, and I’ve written about them before. Overall, it’s a decent beer, but I think they’re slightly behind some of the others on this list. Their IPA is probably their most solid.
- Surreal Brewing is one that seems to be all over the place around here, including the local grocery store. They have a wide variety of flavors, and one of their biggest selling points is super low calories. They’re Red IPA is only 33 calories per can which is crazy. It’s got a good nose on it as well as a fuller bodied taste. One disappointment is their Juicy IPA which isn’t very Juicy. I don’t think the aromas were able to really survive the NA process.
- Athletic Brewing Company… it’s taken forever, but I FINALLY got my hands on some this weekend. I cracked open their IPA it is probably the best N/A IPA that I’ve tasted out there. I’m anxious to try the Golden I picked up as well. I can see why they’re sold out all the time.
Finally, I need to mention our local brewery Fair State Coop that does a really solid N/A lager. It’s crisp and clean, and when I’m relaxing by the open window next to my desk (because it’s all we can really do right now anyway) it scratches the itch for a malt beverage. Plus, I’m supporting a great local brewery!
I’m certainly not giving up beer, but having options is always good. It’s great to see a marketplace that’s so filled with creative and awesome brewing options. I’m guessing that with the explosion of craft beer that N/A craft will be not too far behind. So what have you tried? Anything you think is really awesome?