Tag Archives: athletic

how did it get to be july?

i seem to have run out of steam writing regularly on this blog, now that work has picked up (it’s been a month solid of back to back overnight dog sitting) and also now that i’ve sampled over 60+ NA beers and have settled on a handful that i rotate between regularly. but i thought i’d offer a few news tidbits and a quick review of something new-to-me i picked up this week.

first, did you know it’s dry july? i’d never heard of it before but started seeing other NA beer bloggers writing about it, so figured i should investigate. well, turns out what started in july of 2008 by three guys in australia as a motivation to abstain from drinking for a month and buy their local hospital a new waiting room TV has turned into an annual fundraiser “aimed at challenging social drinkers to change their habits for a month and make some healthy lifestyle changes” while raising money for cancer patients/charities. over the years they’ve raised more than $60 million for various organizations across australia and new zealand!

there does not appear to be a similar foundation set up in the U.S. (yet), but nothing is stopping you from taking a pause from alcohol for the month and donating to your favorite cancer charity and/or asking your community to support you in your efforts by also making a donation. if you decide to do it, definitely drop a comment on this post and i’m happy to boost your efforts!

did you also know that today is national independent beer run day? yeah, me neither. it seems to be just a marketing ploy by the brewers association to promote and sell craft beer, “calling on beer lovers to seek the independent craft brewer seal and purchase craft beers produced by small and independent breweries for their independence day festivities” – buy hey, why not?

of course i’d love to support a local indie craft brewery today (or any day), but sadly none in my area are brewing non-alcoholic brews yet. (skip down below for an update on that topic.) so i will just have to participate by stocking up on some independent craft NA beer from out of state – perhaps a run out to total wine is in order?

i feel like i have already done my part this week though by finally receiving my second order from athletic of their pride month beer rainbow wall (i managed to score a 12-pack when it was briefly restocked last week – it’s gone again); i really love that beer! and i also made another between-clients pitstop in to elio’s uptown to pick up a 6-pack of untitled art’s NA juicy IPA. since i seem to be enjoying the fruitier NA IPAs on these hot summer days, i thought it was worth a try.

i kinda love it! it’s so smooth and has a great mouthfeel, good body. and though it definitely has some grapefruit flavor and a bit of a bite, it’s not super bitter. the combo of citra and mosaic hops is delicious and at 90 calories/19 carbs it has some substance but not too much. i had one yesterday in the middle of my dog walking day and it was a real rejuvenator! once again thanks to pelican craft brands for distributing UA’s NA offerings around town. now if i could just find their watermelon gose!

on the local front, second line brewing is neighborhood brewery and when i was drinking alcohol, their beers were my favorites. though they aren’t brewing an NA… yet, i did manage to ask them about it on an IG post and their response was at least encouraging: “you’ll often see larger breweries making NA beers because they have the infrastructure in place with the necessary equipment to filter out ALL the yeast before packaging – otherwise, you risk continuing fermentation. unfortunately we’re not there yet – just means we have to keep growing so we can make some tasty NA beer :)”

so that makes three local breweries who’ve given me a positive response about potentially brewing NA in the future – second line, zony mash and faubourg. and nola brewing has their NA hop’d teas, which i need to check out. i still maintain that urban south seems the most likely to be equipped/positioned to try NA brewing, but they’ve never responded to my queries about it. maybe i just need to drop in one day and ask.

regardless, we here in NOLA have come a long way already in the 7 months or so that i’ve been drinking NA and documenting my journey. the selection continues to grow at total wine all the time, local groceries and liquor/wine stores are carrying more varieties of NA and keeping them stocked, and you can much more frequently find at least the macro breweries’ NA options at local bars and restaurants. it’s not as much progress as in some other parts of the country, but new orleans is always behind the times on most trends, so i guess it makes sense for this one too. until we catch up, i guess i will just continue to sample the ever-widening array of craft NA available from around the country via beer mail!

enjoy your 4th of july holiday weekend! and tell me what NA brews you’ll be drinking in the comments. cheers!

athletic – rainbow wall IPA

in general, i don’t enjoy rainbow capitalism during pride month. because usually it’s a straight up marketing technique with no give-back to the LGBTQI+ community by so many companies and corporations. it’s just a way for them to cash in on looking woke/PC without actually being accountable to that community.

but i’m happy to give props to initiatives that DO give back in a significant way and to support companies that show year round what their values are. athletic brewing is definitely a company that lives its progressive values and so here we are with their latest limited edition batch of NA beer called rainbow wall, with an appropriately and pleasingly rainbow-colored graphic for the can for pride month. the name and the image come from a particularly challenging climb in the red rock canyon national conservation area outside of las vegas, nevada. it was brewed in collaboration with LGBTQI+ pro climber alex johnson and 100% – yes you read that right – of the profits from the sale of this beer will go to athlete ally, a national non-profit whose mission is “to end the rampant homophobia and transphobia in sports and to activate the athletic community to exercise their leadership to champion LGBTQI+ equality.”

this was enough to make me order a 6-pack in my monthly subscription box, even though it’s an IPA. (i know you are tired of me saying i don’t typically like IPAs but just in case there are new folks reading… i never liked leaded IPAs but am finding i can tolerate some NA IPAs depending on how they are brewed and with which hops.) it’s a blood orange IPA, and i’ve enjoyed quite a few blood orange beers in my life, so i took the chance.

it pours a beautiful orange hue that is slightly hazy with a decent head. it has a clean hoppy aroma and a very bold citrus flavor that combines the blood orange with something more tart, perhaps the lemon peel that is referenced in the ingredients list. but it’s very crisp while also being very smooth thanks to that organic vienna malt, and though it has a bit of a bite, the bitterness doesn’t linger, which i like. goes down easy and clocks in at only 70 calories and 16 carbs. i surprised myself that i like this so much!

i’m late in reviewing this as it took longer than expected to receive my shipment and then a few days to get it chilled and have time to write about it because i’m dog sitting and my work schedule has been very hectic. sadly, when i went to order some more of it, it was already sold out. (if i’d have realized it was sold out i would have not bothered to write about it. sorry if i got your hopes up!)

i love that athletic is creative and does a lot of small batch/limited release beers, but i hate when i find ones i really love and they are gone too soon. i’m feeling that way about the peanut butter porter i recently reviewed (i have 2 left in the fridge) and trailblazer, the women’s history month hoppy lager that i’m now out of. oh well, i guess that’s how it goes with most breweries, and how they keep you coming back for the next one. i just wish it was easier and faster to get my hands on them.

speaking of which, i will quickly mention that athletic updated their store finder map on their site and it now shows, in addition to total wine (which i had to tell them to add!), that you can find some athletic brews at cochon restaurant and bywater american bistro. hopefully more venues will start carrying their beers but i guess two restaurants are better than none!

athletic – nature nut peanut butter porter

i’m realizing i never did post my thoughts about this beer. i’m on my second six pack of it and frankly my opinion keeps changing. sometimes i think it’s just OK and not very exciting; one time i even poured half of one out; but most times i feel like it’s the best dark NA i’ve had yet. i can’t decide. (the one i’m drinking right now as i write this review i’m enjoying a great deal.)

i’ve had mixed results with my pours; most of the time there’s not much head at all (none in this picture), but i don’t know if that’s the beer or my glassware. (apparently some detergents leave a residue that kills the head. but other beers i pour at home seem to have a head and i hand wash all my glassware exactly the same way, so i’m not sure what’s going on.) it pours a dark brown almost black. pretty decent mouthfeel with good tight carbonation but i wish it was a little creamier. it’s a little thin.

the nuttiness is there in both aroma and taste – that peanut flour definitely does the job. it’s got a nice level of sweetness to it – not too much but just enough. (i tried it with some vanilla ice cream the other night and i highly recommend it!) there’s a nice roastiness going on, and some subtle chocolate notes too, due to cocoa nibs. you can taste the vanilla too. there’s a lot going on in this brew.

sadly, it is no longer for sale on the site, as it was a limited release. but maybe they will bring it back at some point. i love that it raised funds for the two for the trails initiative to help maintain and rehabilitate trails, walking paths, and green spaces, and that it was a joint project with justin’s nut butters. (each six pack you ordered came with some squeeze packs of justin’s almond and peanut butter! but no, there was no nut butter in the actual beer.)

I would probably buy more if it was available, as i’m finding it much harder to be satisfied with any of the NA darks on the market that i’ve tried.

settling in with my NA beer choices

i haven’t much felt like sampling new beers lately. i still have a few from that last delivery from NAbrews that i haven’t gotten to (the raspberry limbo from mikkeller and brew dog’s wake up call), but most of the time when i open the fridge to grab a beer, i find myself just wanting the ones i already know i love. so after about six months of intense NA beer sampling my rotation has come down to this short list at the moment, in no particular order:

i do really enjoy dark beers but so far i have to admit to not really being satisfied with many of the NA options i’ve tried. many of them are ok, not awful, but i don’t find myself craving them in the same way that i do the lighter and brighter beers. i think they just don’t hit the same “i’m drinking a beer” feeling that the lighter NA brews do – many of them just make me feel like i’m drinking a sweet malty chocolate soda. maybe there’s a dark NA out there for me yet but for now, especially since it is summer, i’m happy with the lighter options i’ve got. and at least athletic’s upside dawn, ceria’s grainwave, and wellbeing’s amber can be bought locally at total wine so i don’t have to wait a week to have it shipped if i run out.

(i did join the athletic subscription club and have received a few monthly shipments but am re-evaluating that since i mostly want upside dawn and it’s cheaper locally. but since i can pause my membership, i will do that for a little while until i see if it’s worth it to get the cerveza or other limited run beers occasionally.)

there are still many brews i haven’t sampled yet that i’m interested in trying but i’m not going out of my way to find them now and i’m definitely not paying crazy money to get them delivered anymore, including:

if any of these should find their way to me or for some reason go on some kinda great sale i can’t refuse, then maybe. but until then i will be happy keeping my faves stocked at home and might even try an alcoholic beer sometime soon to see how it makes me feel. i don’t envision ever keeping real beer in my fridge anymore but would like to feel like i can have one or two occasionally out with friends. though honestly, if athletic or one of my other NA faves was available at bars or restaurants locally, i probably wouldn’t ever drink alcoholic beer again.

all this being said, i should mention that i did sample the heineken 0.0 last week. i figured since it was likely to be one of the only options on bar/restaurant menus locally, i should know what it tastes like and if it could work for me in a pinch. but sadly, it was awful and i could only drink a few mouthfuls before pouring it out. the first whiff took me back to my childhood, to smelling my dad’s and uncle’s cans of some kinda shit beer i can’t remember. it was slightly sweet and malty but just really unappealing to me, in the same way that penn’s best was. i never liked regular heineken so this isn’t surprising to me but i do like to try to keep an open mind about the macros. but so far i haven’t found one i can make due with. i guess i’m just a craft beer snob at heart.

athletic – run wild IPA

i know, i know – what am i doing drinking an IPA? well, i have heard from a few different folks that run wild isn’t all that IPA-like, more like a pale ale. and since i’ve been finding that i don’t mind some hops in my NA beers, i thought i’d give it a go. i was at total wine the other day and since they had it in the singles rack, i thought, why not? it’s good to know in case at some point more of athletic’s beers become available locally in bars, in case they have it and not one of the ones i like more. it’s good to know your options.

so what’s the verdict? perfectly drinkable. a little hoppy but not overly so, with a nice malty backbone. kinda reminded me of the big drop pine trail ale and a bit like partake’s pale ale, though with much more body. (this one has 70 calories vs. partake’s 10.) athletic refers to it as a session IPA with a blend of five northwestern hops. it pours a nice golden orange, good head, good medium body but still pretty light. not so bitter i couldn’t enjoy it and went down smooth. felt frankly refreshing with my veggie stir fry lunch.

i don’t really have a lot to say about it but i drank the whole thing and enjoyed it. i wouldn’t keep that stocked in my fridge but i liked it more than i thought i would! thumbs up!

athletic – first ride coffee porter

i don’t really know the relationship between athletic‘s pilot program brews and their very similar full releases – like is this beer, the first ride coffee porter the same thing as the pilot program coffee porter i had a few months ago? it’s been long enough now that i don’t really remember exactly how that pilot brew tasted, but according to that review i wrote, i really liked it!

this one poured very dark brown almost black with a small tight tan head that did not stick around very long. it is thinner in body than i want it to be but still has a smooth mouthfeel due to very compact carbonation. it has a roasty coffee aroma but it’s kinda subtle. athletic’s website says it’s a mix of medium and dark coffee roasts, and that is basically what it tastes like. a slightly sweet (but not overly so) malty backbone, a little nutty, and kind of a burnt coffee worty flavor.

i like it OK but i think i like their smooth ascent coffee brew better. (which was probably a one-off production.) I will happily drink the rest of this six pack but i would not ever need to order it again, even if it was available. (it’s currently out of stock.) sometimes it’s nice to have a little caffeine in your NA beer so this will serve that purpose for me i guess til it runs out.

national beer day + athletic winter whit

while it seems like every day of the year is national something day, today is actually national beer day in the US.

according to wikipedia, it commemorates the enactment of a law in 1933 which effectively was the beginning of the end of prohibition. (prohibition had been the law of the land since 1920.) the cullen-harrison act allowed for beer of up to 3.2% ABW (or 4.05% ABV) to be sold, and by december of that year the 18th amendment was repealed, ending prohibition.

needless to say, after reading about this earlier this morning, i’ve been dreaming about a beer all day. so i decided to accompany my late lunch/early dinner of some meat pies from my local middle eastern grocery and my first try at making hummus at home with a beer that’s been in the fridge for a while, athletic‘s pilot program winter whit, which was a limited release. i’m a little unclear if it’s the same as the wit’s peak witbier that is now for sale on their site; i got mine as part of a pilot program sample pack from NAbrews some months back. i had one when it first arrived and wasn’t very impressed so the others got shoved to the back of the fridge and i never ended up reviewing it. but this afternoon i had a hankering for something different, so here we are.

i’m enjoying it this time around with my meal. it poured a light golden yellow and had a bit of a foamy head which didn’t stick around long. the carbonation was weird, more soda-like than beer-like, so mouthfeel was a little off. it’s a bit malty and slightly sweet with some spiciness to it. maybe a little lemony? honestly, i drank it while eating and it went down so fast i forgot to really take a lot of notes! it has a fairly light body to it, went down smooth and paired well with my food.

though i liked it, i don’t know that i’d want to buy this again. i think i might have one more in the back of the fridge left over. this isn’t really a style i’m a huge fan of and wouldn’t normally buy, but i’m glad i got to try it.

i’ll be picking out a few different beers to take with me to the lakefront to gather with some friends to watch the sunset, as i continue to celebrate national beer day. i’m sure i’ll post a pic on instagram later. cheers!

current faves

yes this is my fridge!

i’ve been doing this NA beer thing since november so have drunk a LOT of it by now – 33 different kinds, to be exact! (good thing NAs tend to have a lot fewer calories/carbs than regular beer!)

i thought maybe a top 10 list was in order. i am finding that my opinion of some of these brews changes over time and upon repeated consumption, perhaps differing greatly from my first impression. i’m making this list for my own purposes, to refer to when restocking once i drink through all that i already have. and of course, there’s still so much i have NOT sampled – this is just a “faves so far” list.

i’m offering these in no particular order. i like different beers for different reasons at different times and though i might really LOVE a particular beer, it might not be the style that i want to drink a lot of or often. or conversely, the beer i grab most often might not be the one i think is the absolute best beer, it’s just the easiest to drink or the one that fits more moods/situations. for right now, from all i have tasted, this would be my top 10:

  • rightside – citrus wheat
  • athletic – trailblazer (hoppy lager)
  • bravus – oatmeal stout
  • wellbeing – hellraiser dark amber
  • ceria – grainwave (belgian white)
  • athletic – all out stout
  • partake – pale
  • athletic – irish red
  • athletic – upside dawn (golden ale)
  • bravus – peanut butter stout

we’ll see how these hold up over time. i mean, the trailblazer and irish red are not always available, so that might limit my ability to keep drinking them. and i might break down and order some samples from some of the breweries i’ve yet to try, so next list might be totally different.

here’s my top current wants that i haven’t tried yet:

  • big drop – galactic extra dark (stout)
  • barrel brothers – dark sarcasm (porter)
  • untitled art – stout
  • deschutes – irish dark (they only ship to OR and DC so i won’t get this anytime soon but i still want to try it.)
  • surreal – 17 mile porter/pastry porter

there are a few others on the want list as new NAs keep appearing in the wild, but i’m pretty happy with what i’ve been able to sample so far. i sure hope when things return to more “normal” times that i can find some of this deliciousness on local bar/restaurant menus so i can stop stockpiling them at home – i only feel compelled to do so since they are all so hard to find. or maybe one (or more) of my local craft breweries will jump into the NA game. a girl can dream!

athletic brewing – trailblazer

this women’s history month limited run beer from athletic brewing finally arrived today! it went right into the fridge midday so i could try it out with dinner tonight. the verdict? i love it!

i’d put it in the same general category as athletic’s upside dawn, but trailblazer is a much lighter lager which made it go down so easy that i was done with it before i knew it! it pours a yellow-golden color and had quite a nice head to it, giving off a faint fruity floral aroma. they say peach but i didn’t really get a clear peach from it. maybe my nose is just not that sophisticated. i would have been happier with a stronger fruity aroma, frankly. but it was still nice.

it’s definitely a hop-forward brew, has a bit of that bitterness to it, though not overwhelming. kind of a thin body, but a nice crisp, clean finish. i really found it to be delicious. i had to resist the urge to go crack a second one open; since i only got one six pack and it was a limited run that is already sold out, i want to make it last! i think athletic should offer this one on the regular. i would definitely buy more!

athletic brewing – pilot program: irish red ale

i don’t have a lot to say about this beer. i bought it on impulse because i was out of one of their other beers that is a mainstay for me and i happened to be looking at just the right moment that this pilot program brew was made available to folks not in the club. so figured it would be a fun experiment, what with st. patrick’s day coming up and all.

faint malty aroma, pours a dark amber-red color (it’s been a long time since i’ve drunk a red beer so can’t really remember what color they ought to look like), and the carbonation is weird – bigger bubbles almost like a soda. there was a foamy head upon pouring (as pictured), but it quickly dissipated. it tastes fine, but is hard to distinguish from several of their other beers. nothing really bold about this one. not a strong hops presence, a little caramel, but not a heavy maltiness either. the description said something about stone fruit but i don’t really taste that. (had to look up stone fruit to understand what that was!) this beer is light and smooth and goes down very easily, but if you’re looking for flavor, this isn’t it. it would probably pair well with food though because it wouldn’t overwhelm it.

this is just a middle of the road beer to me. it’s pleasant enough and i will drink this 6pack but i wouldn’t order it again even if it was available regularly.