Craft Non-Alcoholic Beer: Good?

Posted January 23, 2020 by Jonathan Galbreath

I decided to stop drinking (well, at least for 365 days). I’ll spare you my reasons why. Because what I think is important is whether craft non-alcoholic beer is “good.” Can non-alcoholic beer replace the real stuff? My answer is NO. But, we’ve come a long way from O’Doul’s (which in my opinion … the amber ain’t too bad). Most of the large scale commodity breweries have done a good job at making NA versions of their popular lagers. If I had to pick my favorite of aforesaid, Buckler, made by Heineken.

But, in this post, I’m going to focus on some “craft” non-alcoholic beers. Here are my thoughts on a few.

1. Athletic Brewing Co. – Run Wild IPA

I was really lucky to grab a case of this. It sells out faster than a boy band tour. Of the craft NA beers that I have tried so far, this is hands down the most reminiscent of a craft IPA. It’s legit. Really solid. Full bodied-like. Hops are evident and actually have enough bite and bitterness to entertain my palette. It masks a lot of the sweetness issues that many NA beers have. I’ll be refreshing my screen daily to order another couple cases along with whatever else they make.

Athletic Brewing Co.

2. Surreal Brewing Company – Juicy Mavs Hazy IPA

I was super-excited to receive this. It was a letdown, at first. Once I got past the fact that none of these beers are going to fool me, I started to enjoy it for what it was. Highly carbonated. Very lean, very. Hardly any body. But, it’s crazy refreshing and only 30 calories. You certainly get a hazy hint, but it’s no juice bomb. 

Surreal Brewing Company

3. BrewDog – Nanny State Dry Hopped Pale Ale

I was also pretty excited to receive this treat. Keith said it was pretty good. Much like the Juicy Mavs Hazy IPA, I found it really thin. Hops are certainly evident. But, the body does nothing to make me feel like I’m actually drinking a full-strength beer, which is OK! I’d call it carbonated hop water before I’d call it beer. Still refreshing. And I would certainly order it if I ever saw it on a menu or on tap.


4. Bravus Brewing Co. – IPA

This is a tough one. I applaud any brewery for offering or dedicating themselves to the non-alcoholic realm. After ingesting half of one of these, I actually called and emailed the brewery to ask them if something was wrong — if what I was drinking was what they declare on the back of their can. “Our exclusive brewing process allows us to create beer which tastes so much like an alcoholic beer, you would be hard-pressed to tell the difference.” No response to email or a phone call. So … it tastes like an extremely watered down glass of orange juice infused with a box of Band-Aids. Seriously. Sorry Bravus.

Bravus Brewing Co.

I can say that “not drinking” has been fun (so far)! The variety is something that wasn’t as prevalent in my previous pauses. For anyone thinking of slowing down, taking a break or even quitting … these offerings could be a crutch. I’m no prophet, but I think the craft non-alcoholic beer market is going to become a big deal in the next 5 years. Cheers … I guess.


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