Tag Archives: NA beer

grüvi – stout

my first taste of this brew a week or more ago was a little disappointing, so i decided to give it a bit of time and try again before reviewing it. i am definitely finding that there is a lot of variation in how NA beers taste to me – sometimes that is a variation between batches or even cans or other issues with the actual beer, but other times i think it’s more about what other food or drink has recently been on my palate. so it’s good to not always trust my first opinion. i am having my second taste of it as i type this, accompanying my lunch of brazilian black beans. it’s a great pairing!

as a 45 calorie, 12 carb NA beer, it has the kind of mouthfeel and body you might expect. it’s a little thin, especially for something called a stout, but it’s not bad. i think the first time i had it the lack of sweetness took me by surprise – i’m kind of used to stouts being sweeter, and all of the NA stouts i’ve tried so far have been sweeter than this one. this beer has a mild nuttiness and a roasted, chocolate maltiness. definitely some coffee in there too. but i think the thing that sets it apart from other NA stouts and porters i’ve tried is its dry finish and very minimal carbonation.

i don’t really know what to compare it to as i can’t say i’ve ever had anything that tasted quite like this. and while i didn’t like it the first time, i like it ok this time around. i’m not sure i’d ever crave this or want to buy it again, but i will drink the other two in the 4 pack. and at some point down the road i might give some of grüvi’s other beers a shot. (i haven’t tried their lager or their pale ale. and the peach pie ale, currently out of stock, certainly intrigues me.)

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act allowed for beer of up to 3.2% ABW (or 4.05% ABV) to be sold, and by december of that year the 18th amendment was repealed, ending prohibition.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!

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!

grüvi – sour weisse

yes i broke down and tried a new brewery. gotta have something to write about! no, seriously, i’d been wanting to try grüvi for a while and kept hoping my total wine would start carrying it, but they haven’t. so yeah, back to mail order.

i’m not sure though what possessed me to order this particular beer. what i was really making the order for was their stout (review forthcoming) and i needed something else to make the order worth it, given shipping costs. though their golden lager gets a lot of accolades, i was worried it was just be boring to me; i don’t really drink just basic lager much. and i already have enough hoppy stuff in the fridge so i didn’t want the IPA or pale ale. and sadly the delicious-sounding peach pie ale was out of stock. the description of the sour weisse said “our take on the classic berliner weisse is tart, citrusy wheat beer,” which made it sound interesting. so sour weisse it was!

now that i’ve cracked one open and am sipping it, i don’t know if that is how i would describe this one. it is extremely light and crisp, which makes it not feel very much like a beer at all. though the ingredients listed are barley, oats, wheat, hops and yeast, i’m just really not tasting the grain at all. it is citrusy-tart, for sure, more lemony than anything else. it feels almost more seltzer-like than beer-like, in terms of mouthfeel and body. it is tasty, i will give them that. it will certainly be a lovely thing to drink on a spring or summer sunny day, perhaps with a squeeze of lime in it. but a “citrusy wheat beer” it is not, at least not to me.

i would put this 26 calorie, 5 carb “beer” in the same category as some of those from partake brewing – though honestly, the partake brews i’ve tried have more flavor. but for those who are really into cutting the calories and/or the carbs, this would be a great selection. i had mine with a greek salad and it was a great pairing. but i think i will have to be in a particular mood to want to drink this.

i did want to point out the excellent packaging with recyclable materials, which i greatly appreciate. i’ve had some boxes of beer show up with just a few layers of bubble wrap, which is both highly ineffective as a means of protecting the beer and also not readily recyclable. these paper options are much better and each 4pack was tightly wrapped and cushioned. so thanks for that, grüvi!

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.