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act allowed for beer of up to 3.2% ABW (or 4.05% ABV) to be sold, and by december of that year the 18th amendment was repealed, ending prohibition.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!
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:
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:
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!
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!
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.
“Up until the 1500s, brewing was primarily women’s work – that is, until a smear campaign accused women brewers of being witches. Much of the iconography we associate with witches today, from the pointy hat to the broom, emerged from their connection to female brewers.”
knowing this herstory really helps challenge the association of beer with men and masculinity which has become the norm in modern times. of course women were the first brewers! i’m not surprised by any of this information – fuck the patriarchy for ruining everything – but it makes me even more committed to writing about and diving deeper into the NA beer world as a woman.
it’s interesting to note that the stanford university study referenced in the article, though it is many years old (2014) and focused on the larger alcoholic craft beer industry, found “20 percent (399) had at least one female founder, of which 40 (2 percent) had an exclusively female founder(s).” it also cites “17 percent (349) had at least one female CEO — only 67 of those (3 percent) had an exclusively female CEO, the rest were co-CEOs with at least one male (typically wife/husband team).”
however, in 2019, the brewer’s association website craftbeer.com did a survey and found “only about 7.5 percent of brewers are women. The number of female staff jumps to 37 percent for women in “non-production, non-service” roles (like sales and marketing). the only area where women reach a majority is as brewery “service” staff — though at just 53 percent, it’s pretty balanced. furthermore, of the 54 percent of breweries that only had a single owner, 96 percent of those owners were male.”
these stats are pretty sad, and only get sadder when you start looking for ethnic/racial diversity as well. so i want to do what i can to lift up the women brewers, owners and other players i learn about.
in a previous post i mentioned rightside brewing, whose beer is en route to me this week, so it seems appropriate to mention it again here. it’s founder, emree woods, is not a brewer, but rather an entrepreneuer who had the idea when she was pregnant with her first child three and a half years ago. it took a while – another child and a pandemic might have slowed her down a bit – but her “third baby,” as she refers to it, is finally out in the world and i’m really looking forward to trying it!
when i posted a question wondering about other women-owned/founded NA craft breweries in the NABAS (non-alcoholic beer appreciation society) facebook group, i learned that several were co-founded by women, often with their husbands/partners or other family members: wellbeing brewery was co-founded by genevieve barlow; surreal brewing was co-founded by donna hockey; bravus brewing was co-founded by heather brandes; and gruvi brewing, co-founded by anika sawni, who also hosts a podcast about recovery called a sober girl’s guide.
i’m sure there are probably more that i don’t know about (if you know of any, tell me, cuz i’m new to this world and still learning about the players and history of the industry), but just knowing this much makes me feel like there’s maybe a slightly higher ratio of women involved in the NA craft beer world than the alcoholic one. this may be due to the fact that the NA craft beer world is smaller at the moment, but i hope it continues to be an inviting realm for more women to get involved in.
the pink boots society is one group that hopes to help more women get involved in the larger industry (not NA-specific). it was created “to assist, inspire and encourage women fermented/alcoholic beverage industry professionals to advance their careers through education,” with one specific goal to “teach women beer professionals the judging skills necessary to become beer judges at the GABF and other competitions.” their site has a lot of info on it, including some history of women and beer, a podcast, and offers scholarships to upcoming seminars on technical aspects of the industry. they even have a collaborative brew they are doing across chapters, with an exclusive hops blend. there appears to be a PBS chapter here in new orleans, so perhaps i need to check them out! i wonder if they have any NA stuff going on?
well that’s all i got for today, but i’ll keep sharing info as i learn it. happy international women’s day and women’s history month!
**edited to add: shortly after i posted this, i got the email from athletic brewing announcing their collab for international women’s day – trailblazer, a hoppy lager using the PBS 2021 hops blend, brewed by athletic brewer cara wilson, with 100% of the proceeds going to the pink boots society. i of course just ordered some.
no new NA beers to sample this weekend since the stump jump and cerveza atletica arrived, but i have plenty to keep me busy. (my kitchen floor is littered with NA beer stock cuz i can only fit so much in the fridge at one time!) i did end up buying a six pack of the partake pale at total wine as i liked it enough to want to drink more of it. they were out of a lot of things and didn’t have anything new, so that’s all i got.
my friend allison went out there and asked at customer service for them to order brew dog NAs, and they said they would. (i hope they get the wake up call and nanny state, though i’m sure she asked them for the ipas cuz that’s what she drinks.) so maybe that is the route i will take in the future, instead of trying to find the beer manager who never seems to be available when i go. i’m gonna make a list and ask them to order a bunch of stuff because it will be cheaper for me to buy from them than ordering it online. (they need to restock wellbeing amber and coffee cream stout, and add their victory wheat; i’d love it if they added bravus peanut butter stout and blonde to the other bravus beers they already carry; and it would be great to be able to sample NA offerings from untitled art (mostly interested in the chocolate stout), two roots (helles), sober carpenter (blonde, white, red), gruvi (peach pie ale, stout, lager, pale ale), big drop (pale and stout) and ceria (i’m interested in the belgian white but they also have an ipa that would probably do well). i know, it’s asking a lot. but if i don’t ask, they’ll probably never order it and i know all of those are carried at other total wines around the country so they shouldn’t have trouble getting them.
meanwhile, i always look at every new retail food/drink store i’m in to see what they have. this past week: target doesn’t carry ANY NA at all; neither does the random circle k by tulane, though they have a pretty extensive beer cooler; lakeview grocery had minimal macro offerings and the lagunitas IPNA was randomly stuck in the middle of the alcoholic section next to the other lagunitas stuff; and i went back in to rouses on carrollton just to see if i could find the beer buyer (wasn’t there). this pic below is of their sad NA section.
however, i do have several new brews on the way to me. i couldn’t resist ordering the athletic st. patrick’s day offering of an irish red, which is one of the pilot brews; i’m not a big red drinker but i’m looking for variety right now.
i also “discovered” rightside brewing, randomly, from a post in one of the NA fb groups i’m in. i’d heard the name before but hadn’t been curious until a link to an interview with the founder/owner was posted. turns out it’s a woman-owned brand and southern, out of atlanta, georgia. they have a great website with a blog that tells the story of the beer/company and offers inspirational and informational posts. how could i not support this business? so i immediately ordered a six pack of each of their citrust wheat and ipa, as they are smartly offering the two six packs = free shipping promotion that is quickly becoming the standard in the NA beer world. i’ll let ya know what I think when they get here.
the other thing that happened was that i reached out to bravus brewing‘s customer support after my experience revisiting their oatmeal stout left me confused as to whether my taste buds had just done an about face on their beer, or if it was a bad batch. they immediately wrote back, offering to give me a pre-paid return label if i’d send them back some of the beer in question. i’d bought two four packs so i tried some from both and both tasted off to me, so i sent back two of each. i mentioned how i was hoping to try some of their other beers (pb stout and blonde) and they offered to send me a free fresh mix pack of oatmeal, pb stout and blonde to try! now THAT’S customer service! so that is also on the way. i hope they don’t get the beers i sent back and tell me there is nothing wrong with them, cuz that would just mean a) my taste buds are wack, and b) i don’t like their beer. but i will remain hopeful until i try them.
ok, that’s all i got for this week. and yes, i am clearly obsessed at this point and this is becoming quite an expensive habit. but i’m also not spending nearly as much money as i used to on food and due to the pandemic i never go out and spend money in bars or restaurants or anywhere else, so i figure it’s ok for now. and at some point, when i’ve sampled all these beers, i will know which ones i like enough to want to keep on hand and it will be a much smaller number of beers. but for now it’s a fun adventure that takes my mind off this fucked up world we are living in and at least feels like a semi-healthy choice to be making in my recuperation.
i just finished drinking this athletic brewing stump jump autumn brown ale, which i had been dying to sample for quite a while. (it’s hard to find it in stock on their website.) sadly i am underwhelmed. i think i actually like their maple brown pilot brew better. this one definitely has the look and mouthfeel of a brown ale down, but the taste is just kinda meh. it’s smooth, malty, a little nutty, and not as sweet as the maple brown, but kinda nondescript. some brown ales can be like that but i guess i just expected a richer flavor out of something called an autumn brown. i have five more of them so i guess i’ll be drinking them but they will not be the first thing i reach for. it’s not a total miss, but not anything exciting either. 😕
earlier this afternoon with lunch i tried partake brewing‘s pale. if you recall, i had been previously disappointed with their blonde and unimpressed with their stout, but someone in one of my facebook groups suggested that i give their pale a shot because it was better. and they were right! just enough hops to make it interesting and give it a bit of a bite, which is something that beers without alcohol often lack, but not so much that it overwhelmed me. i don’t really like an overwhelming hops bitterness, hence why i don’t like most IPAs. it had a pretty good mouthfeel even though it’s pretty thin and light but it is crisp and refreshing and went very well with the pizza i had for lunch. and it only has 10 calories! that is ridiculous! tastes pretty spot on and only 10 calories – i give it a 👍!
lastly is theathletic brewingcerveza atletica, which they describe as a light copper brew. i found its color to be darker than light copper and i was expecting this beer by its name to be more in the vein of corona or similar light lager/pilsner mexican beers. i would say it’s more like dos equis amber. very smooth, good body and mouthfeel, malty and fairly light. i like this one and can see it being a good table beer for me as i think it will go with pretty much any food. i will buy this one again. 👍
NA beer of the evening. i smell the maple more than i taste it, but this is still a smooth, slightly sweet, medium body brown ale that i enjoyed. goes down easily. would definitely drink again though not sure if i’d prioritize purchasing it again anytime soon, given that there’s still so many yummy NA beers to discover. but i appreciate NA brews for giving me access to this one via an athletic brewing sample pack. (i do still have a couple left, luckily.)
this might be my favorite NA beer i’ve had yet! good coffee aroma and more subtle taste, more on the bitter end than sweet, which seems true to a real porter (as opposed to the sweetness of so many stouts). good mouthfeel, good body, not overly carbonated, smooth going down! really hope this becomes a regular release. athletic brewing really knows what they are doing with non alcoholic beer!
i got this from NA brews, who really win the prize in terms of packaging and shipping. each can was really well cushioned, no dents or spills, and it got here really fast!