Tag Archives: IPA

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 – 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!

atmos – kora double hop IPA

as i always do, i must preface this review with the disclaimer that i don’t typically like IPAs and didn’t ever drink them when i was drinking alcoholic beer, so i often don’t even understand the various styles of IPAs. i had to look up what “double hop” even meant.

(actually, i’m still not clear. is it double dry hopped? or double IPA? are those the same thing? i think it means double dry hopped, which means adding more hops post-fermentation in the hopes of making a more complex aroma/flavor profile. i think double IPA just means double the amount of hops, which i guess could mean either before/after fermentation.)

so take my opinion with a grain of salt if you are someone who really loves IPAs. i’m probably not the best judge.

but this was the latest round of the tastNA club where i get to sample new and hopefully interesting beers for free in return for an honest review. this is only the second round for me, with the big drop pale ale being the first one. (it was hoppy but i still liked it because it was balanced and smooth.) so i’m trying to approach this with an open mind to see what i think, but i will hope there will be future rounds of the tasteNA club that include other beer styles that aren’t IPAs or pale ales.

this hazy double hop IPA is from atmos brewing (formerly ethos brewing), an independent NA craft brewery based in hailey, idaho. it was sent to us reviewers fresh from the canning line, which is really nice. (there are a lot of discussions in the NA beer world about freshness, as without alcohol as a preservative, NA brews don’t have as long of a shelf life once canned. and IPAs specifically seem to lose the effects of the hops over time.)

it poured a nice golden yellow color, minimally hazy, and had a respectable head to it. it was definitely very aromatic – kinda floral, a little sweet fruity smelling, piney. (the info card that comes with the beer says it’s a combination of chinook, citra, mosaic and azacca hops.)

sadly for me, it smells better than it tastes. i don’t get the same complexity in the taste that i get in the aroma. i get a woody, piney, strongly bitter flavor that’s just kinda flat and for my palate is just hops overkill. like, it kills my taste buds immediately.

it has a light body to it, a little thin – mouthfeel is ok but i wouldn’t call it full-bodied. it goes down pretty easy and the flavor dissipates pretty quickly once it hits my throat, leaving not much of an aftertaste. but i think this pretty much encapsulates what i don’t like about IPAs in general – the strong hops just overpowers everything and leaves my taste buds unable to enjoy the experience.

i just think IPAs are not for me. maybe my palate is just not geared to appreciating the nuances of a beer like this. but if you are someone who really likes a 50 IBU IPA with four different kinds of hops, maybe you’d like this. but it is clearly a beer made with a lot of intention and care, so kudos to atmos for their dedication to the craft. maybe i need to try their golden ale!

sam adams – just the haze

i really am obsessed, y’all. i don’t even drink IPAs and yet, due to all the reviews i’ve read about this one and all the PR hype from sam adams, i’ve been keeping an eye out for this one in my local grocery stores. and i just happened to stop in this morning after my first dog walk to buy some water cuz i was out. (it was sweaty today!) so i took a look – though i walked past it the first time cuz they just threw it in with all the regular beer, not with the other NAs – and it was there! $8.99 for a six pack at rouses downtown. (and no, i don’t usually shop at rouses anymore but due to my tight schedule and location this was the best option to stop to get water.)

so yeah. sam adams – you’re probably familiar with them. boston beer company. one of the biggest “craft” breweries in the US, or the craft-iest corporate brewery in the US? your pick. there’s been a lot of controversy in the craft beer world over sam adams and i don’t want to get into all that. i don’t usually drink their beer, not on any kind of principle – i just never found it all that compelling. but they were pretty much the beginning of the craft beer movement.

“just the haze” is the newest, most hyped NA brew this year so when i saw it i figured, why not? i don’t usually like IPAs (at least with alcoholic beers) but i’ve been finding i have more of a tolerance for the bitterness of hops in the NA brews i’ve tried so i thought, well maybe? it’s a “hazy, juicy” IPA – i actually never really knew what that meant since i don’t drink IPAs – but i’m learning it’s exactly what it sounds like. hazy, referring to the visual appearance of the beer, unfiltered, not crystal clear, like a lot of farmhouse ales i’ve enjoyed in the past. and juicy, meaning, duh, like it’s got juicy flavors and aromas.

what i didn’t realize about “just the haze” cuz i guess i blocked it out or just wasn’t paying attention when reading all those reviews is that one of the juices of the “juicy” is grapefruit. i really don’t like grapefruit! i have strong anti-grapefruit feelings and reactions. i don’t like the bitterness/tartness pucker factor. i prefer a sweeter citrus – orange, mandarine, satsuma. i can handle lemon and lime but grapefruit just puts me over the edge. so yeah. the predominant juiciness – though not the only – is grapefruit. (there’s also a lot of pineapple and kind of a lime and other tropical fruity thing going on – it’s quite complex – but the grapefruit kinda lingers on the back end after the initial sweeter pineapple and just screams at me. maybe it’s just me; maybe i’m just sensitive.)

i put a few in the fridge as soon as i got home from work but was worried they weren’t cold enough so i iced one down in the freezer for about 30-40 minutes while i cooked some dinner. that was almost too long, as when i poured it there was a little icy sludge starting to happen. so maybe that affected the taste some. i’ll revisit this review when i try the second one which didn’t go in the freezer.

my first taste surprised me… that there was so much going on and that the bitterness and sweetness both competed and harmonized at the same time. this brew is confusing to my palette! it’s quite light in body and taste, and smooth, still feels like a real beer in your mouth. i could see this being very thirst quenching on a hot day. it’s interesting to me.

what i don’t really notice much is an extreme hops bitterness i was expecting from something called an IPA. but it’s really much more subtle here, which upon more research i’m finding is a quality of juicy, hazy (or New England style) IPAs. which means “just the haze” is true to style. so maybe that’s why all the NA IPA heads are gushing over this beer, because it very well replicates an alcoholic juicy, hazy IPA.

for me the more subtle bitterness from multiple hops means i can tolerate it better, even with the grapefruit. i drank it with my dinner and it didn’t overwhelm it. i liked it enough to finish the whole thing and i will try another one before passing final judgement. but i might give away the rest of the six pack unless i have a very different experience, as i’m not sure given all my other options that i will want to reach for this beer over so many others. (i already have a few other citrus type beers that i like a lot more.) but i would probably be thrilled to find it as an option in a bar or restaurant that had limited NA options. so i’m glad i tried it to know what it’s like. and i learned something by trying it and doing the research – i learned what a hazy juicy IPA is!

(just for the record, according to sam adams’ site, this beer has an IBU of 35, which puts it in a moderate range though kinda low for an IPA. it has 98 calories per can, and it uses citra, mosaic, sabro, and cascade hops. the malts are listed as sam adams two-row pale malt blend, white wheat, golden naked oats.)

it’s still getting rolled out around the country (we JUST got it this week here in new orleans) but it will likely be THE most widely available craft NA IPA on the market since sam adams already has really wide distribution. i wouldn’t be surprised to eventually see this one on tap in the really devoted craft beer spaces as THE NA option. so maybe this beer will help sam adams get its groove back in the craft beer arena? we shall see.

bravus oatmeal stout (again) + rightside IPA

ok, first a quick update on the bravus oatmeal stout saga. though i sampled and already wrote about the bravus blonde and peanut butter stouts that their customer service sent me recently, i hadn’t felt in the mood for an oatmeal stout until now so hadn’t tried the replacements yet. i think maybe i was afraid of being disappointed again.

but i finally just did and i’m here to report that i really do think it was a freshness issue with the stock at total wine. because one of the new fresh ones they sent (see date stamp pic above) tastes fine, delicious even. i get a good slightly sweet aroma that is the hallmark bravus smell (what is that?!!!), but it’s not bad here. it’s balanced. i get a whiff of caramel, a little coffee, a little chocolate, a little nutty. it’s smooth and creamy, subtle well-distributed carbonation. had a nice head on it when poured though didn’t stick around long. it’s a rich dark brown almost black color you’d expect for an oatmeal stout. i’m not really getting the oatmeal very much, but it’s a good complex flavor that reads stout. they compare it to a guinness on their website but it’s a little sweeter than a guinness; but it’s yummy and shares a lightness and easy drinkability with it.

so check those date stamps and don’t buy it if it’s not fresh! (this is the hazard of being in a market where NAs are not turning over quickly at retail. also the offending cans did not have a date stamp so i had no idea how old it was.) again, thanks to bravus customer service for sending me replacement beers so i could clear their good name.

when i ordered from rightside brewery recently i got one six of their citrus wheat, which i’ve already exclaimed my delight about, but i also got a six of their IPA to share with a friend. i kept two of them even though i was not expecting to like them, but i’m trying to expand my palette and for the sake of having more things to write about i figured i’d give it a go. i have now drunk both of them and neglected to take a picture of the pour both times because they were both at night while i was socializing and i forgot. so here’s an artsy pic of the can. (my living room is my “studio” so excuse the mess.)

in both sampling situations i drank this IPA following one of their citrus wheats, which maybe wasn’t the best plan. i feel like it set me up to be disappointed because i love the citrus wheat so much and find it to have a delicious complex, refreshing flavor profile. this one simply did not read IPA to me at all. i didn’t smell a strong hops aroma; it was similar to the citrus wheat but maybe just a tad more of the hops and less of the tropical. flavor-wise, it was not as complex as the citrus wheat, seemed thinner and simpler, not as interesting. and the flavor weirdly evaporated as soon as it hit my throat. so i guess if you’re looking for a lighter beer, maybe this would work for you. it was fine as a second beer in both situations but it was noticeable to me how different it was than their other beer and i don’t think i’ll be buying it again. (i will however be placing another order for two sixes of the citrus wheat! that’s gonna be my summer beer!)

rightside brewing – citrus wheat

i am so excited to finally try this beer! shipping was pretty quick compared to a lot of the other breweries i’ve been ordering from online – probably because it came from atlanta, closer to me than most of the others. i ordered a six of each of the citrus wheat and the IPA – not because i like IPAs (though i do want to try it, just out of curiosity) but because i got it for a friend who likes IPAs and has started dipping her toes into the NA craft beer world since she just found out she’s pregnant. (emree woods, the founder of this brewery, started rightside cuz she was looking for a good NA beer to drink when she was pregnant with her first child, so it seemed appropriate!) i’ll be curious to hear what she thinks.

i really like their logo and colors and their overall bright, sunny branding. (if you haven’t checked out their blog on their website, you should cuz it’s full of empowering and inspirational posts, while also discussing their brewing process and the launch of the company. and look at that cute handwritten note! nice touch, really.

it pours a really gorgeous golden orange color with a pretty good head that gives off a slightly tropical aroma. nice body, not as thin as i expected it to be, but smooth and goes down easy with a crisp finish. i shoulda put a wedge of orange on there! (i even had oranges!) oh well, next time. i gotta say, this beer has a lot more going on than i expected from a wheat NA. i think this is gonna be a spring-summer favorite for me. definitely feels like i could drink a couple of these at a time, which i don’t always feel about many NA beers i’ve tried. (i think the beer dudes call that “crushable.” lol)

i think i only have one more new-to-me beer to test out, after the rightside IPA, that is en route to me via UPS. (athletic‘s trailblazer.) probably won’t be til next week sometime. then i need to not order any more beer for a while and just drink what i already have! it’s fun testing out all these new brews but my bank account can’t sustain this level of support for the NA craft beer industry. i really only drink one beer a night – two if i’m really adventuresome – so what i have in my kitchen should last me for a while.

but next i wanna get serious about trying to figure out how to get more local retail and maybe even some of my favorite bars to stock some of these. (yes, my organizer brain is kicking in.) cuz once things open back up more and more folks (including me) are fully vaccinated, i am really anxious to be back out at a bar for happy hour again! and while i might be tempted to have one alcoholic beer just to see how i do with it physically – i’ve really been CRAVING second line brewing‘s coffee blonde, one of my all-time favorites – i want to be able to moderate with some delicious tasting NAs too. to me, that would be the ideal situation, to have access to both at my favorite hangouts. right now, that is nonexistent – the only place i can drink these yummy NAs is at home – but hopefully with a little targeted prodding, that will change.