Category Archives: na craft beer

reviews and other discussion of my current “hobby” or obsession with non-alcoholic craft beer

bravus oatmeal stout

on sampling NA beers

i’ve been at this non-alcoholic beer exploration for about four months now, with mixed results. i keep thinking i’ve found 5-star beer choices *for me* (cuz everyone’s taste buds are different), but then when i go back and try the same beer a few weeks later, i’m experiencing that beer in a totally different (and usually more unpleasant) way.

the latest example of this was last night with bravus brewing‘s oatmeal stout. i’d bought a bunch of singles at total wine in metairie a few weeks ago, so i could sample a bunch of different NA beers without having to buy full six packs in case i didn’t like it. and bravus’ oatmeal stout was one of them.

my experience drinking it then was a great one. i thought it tasted remarkably like a “real” stout, was full bodied, slightly sweet, and didn’t have any kind of weird aroma or aftertaste, as some NA brews do. “a little chocolatey, a hint of coffee and lots of creamy dark goodness,” i said in my IG review in the moment. i thought i’d found a winner!

i then spent the next several weeks trying to find more of it to purchase to have on hand in the fridge to drink, but total wine was out of stock and nowhere else in town had it. (i will make a whole ‘nother post about my retail adventures seeking out NA beer and talking to beer managers here in new orleans.) i contemplated purchasing online but bravus only gives free shipping if you buy a case and i wasn’t convinced i liked enough of their beers to mix and match a case; i really wanted to try their peanut butter stout but prefer to get a single to sample it before investing in a lot of it. and purchasing less than a case at a time means paying crazy shipping charges, making the beer very expensive. so i just kept holding off on the mail order, hoping the oatmeal stout would come back in stock at total wine.

yesterday was my lucky day – i drove out after work in the mid afternoon on a whim. they hadn’t restocked everything i wanted (wellbeing brews, aside from their IPA, were still out of stock and my total wine doesn’t carry big drop or ceria or any of the other new breweries i want to sample), but the bravus oatmeal and raspberry gose which i also had liked were back in stock. so i got 2 four-packs of the oatmeal stout and one of the gose, plus a few more random singles to test out.

i had one of the goses as soon as it cooled down in the fridge – it wasn’t ice cold like i like it but it wasn’t warm either; it was sufficiently cold for drinking. this time the aroma was more overpowering than i remembered and the extremeness of both the sweet and the tart were magnified, making me enjoy it a little less than i had before. it almost felt like i was drinking a kombucha! i still drank it and i think i will enjoy drinking the others in the right circumstances, but it’s not an everyday kinda brew.

later in the evening, after i’d had some food (though the taste of the gose was still on my palette a bit i have to admit), i cracked open one of the oatmeal stouts. i let it sit for a while to warm up and air out, and for my food to digest a bit more. but when i finally went in for a taste, the aroma really overwhelmed me! i’m not great at identifying smells with much specificity but it was a weird off-putting smell. someone in one of my facebook groups described it as sour or beets/vegetables, and i can’t say i disagree with that. it was definitely not what i was expecting – for an oatmeal stout i expect something more sweet or at least malty or grainy. and i couldn’t taste any of the chocolate or nuttiness i had previously with this beer. i kept drinking it thinking it would get better but it did not. the taste was tainted by the overpowering smell and i can’t say i enjoyed it all that much.

i will give it another shot perhaps with a clean palette and a glass that i don’t have to stick my nose down into to drink. (i was dog sitting so had to use the glassware on hand instead of a regular pint glass, which i usually use.) and maybe i just have to accept more inconsistency with batches of the non-alcoholic brews, because without alcohol as a preservative, i imagine it’s much harder to keep things consistent. i dunno. i’ll report back next time i try it. but i’m pretty bummed since i still have 7 of these to get through.

lesson learned, i guess.

beer talk

i’ve had a lifelong love of beer, with craft beer being my alcohol of choice for most of my adult life. (i was lucky enough to move to new orleans at age 22 where abita beer was already a thing. it was my introduction to “craft” beer and their brews are still some of my favorites.)

in recent years, however, i started to notice my body REALLY not liking alcohol anymore. so i reduced the amount of beer i was drinking, usually no more than 1 or 2 at a time, because of how awful it made me feel the next day. alcohol is very much a way of life here in new orleans, though, so it was still very much a part of my social life, even at a reduced amount.

about a month before my brain surgery (around september of last year), i stopped drinking alcohol entirely, wanting to go into surgery feeling as good as i possibly could. post surgery, i have not felt like i am ready yet to return to alcohol; i’m wanting to give my body and brain some more time to heal without the inflammation and toxicity that alcohol brings. given that, around mid-november, ahead of the holiday season and some anticipated socially-distanced social gatherings, i began investigating non-alcoholic beer as a possible option.

much to my surprise, i’ve found a burgeoning and exciting NA craft beer scene taking root in the US. (NA beer has already been a much bigger thing in europe and other parts of the world, but as usual, the US lags behind.) i started sampling various brands and breweries, mostly ordering online because it’s so hard to find locally, and joined a few facebook groups dedicated to non-alcoholic beer appreciation as a way to learn more. i now find myself reading a lot of articles online and listening to several podcasts about NA beer and its makers. i’m a little obsessed!

so i am making a category here on this blog to easily catalog all my reviews of various NA brews and other thoughts on the trend/industry as it develops. i am hopeful that the craft brewing scene here in new orleans will eventually catch on and some of our successful local breweries will take on the challenge of making delicious NA brews of their own.