Tag Archives: NA beer

mikkeller – raspberry limbo series

i think it’s been established over these almost 60 NA beer reviews i’ve done since november (!!) that i’m not the hugest fan of sours, but i’m willing to try them and under certain circumstances, i do in fact enjoy them. i just kinda have to be in the right mood and pair them with the right food. (or no food.) so this limbo series “malt beverage with raspberries” from mikkeller has been sitting in my fridge for a few months waiting for the right moment. and apparently it’s today!

i just got home from work walking dogs all morning in the heat and humidity and intermittent rain of summer in new orleans. it’s only in the mid 80s (feels like 90 with the humidity), which is frankly cool by summer standards here, but it’s still kinda gross sticky weather for physical activity. i’ve logged 10.3K steps already and it’s only midday. i drank nothing but water all morning in the car in between clients (sometimes i bring some NA brews along with but i didn’t today) so by the time i got home i was really craving something more thirst quenching, and something fruity and tangy sounded good to go with my cauliflower veggie frozen pizza that’s in the oven right now.

as you can see, it pours a pretty orange-red color – not quite the color of raspberries to me, but it’s still pretty. nice head, sparkling carbonation, fruity aroma. the first sip was a little puckering, but my palate quickly adjusted. it’s clean, crisp and packs a delicious raspberry punch. as with a lot of the sours and fruitier beers, i’m not sure it really reads “beer” to me, but i don’t care because it’s really delicious. and went nicely with my cauliflower pizza! i didn’t even feel like i wanted or needed to mix it with ginger ale, which is what i did to salvage those untitled art florida weisses that were just way too sour for me. this one is great on its own. very refreshing!

mikkeller lists this as a “flemish primitive ale” and it is of course, like all their NA beers, brewed with their proprietary mikkellensis yeast. ingredients listed on the can are: water, barley malt, hops, raspberry, and mikkellensis yeast. it clocks in at .3% abv but i can’t find any calorie/carb info anywhere on their site or on the can.

there hasn’t really been a sour that i’ve tasted so far that i felt like i would want to purchase again but i think i would buy this again if it was more readily available in the US. i dream of a day when all the NA brews i love are easily purchased somewhere close to me at retail or at my favorite bar or restaurant. i got this one from NA brews, if you are interested to try it – remember to use my code MARGARET893 for 10% off! sadly, mikkeller’s online shop ships from overseas and the shipping is $50+ so i guess until distribution is better around the US it’ll be via NA brews for me!

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!

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.

bravus – amber

it has taken me a long time to figure out how i feel about bravus‘ NA beers. at first, i really liked the oatmeal stout, the very first time i tried it. then i had some really off ones, returned them, received a sampler pack from them them to help make up for it, and realized there’s just a lot of inconsistency with bravus’ beers. (the replacement oatmeal stouts were fine, i liked the peanut butter stouts they sent, but did not enjoy the blonde at all. i have since then bought a case of oatmeal stout and peanut butter stout and after a few that again tasted weird to me, haven’t touched the rest of them and am now not sure i will.)

all of this backstory brings me to a recent total wine excursion when i bought this single of their amber – one of the only flavors of their beer i hadn’t yet tried and one i’d heard a lot of positive reviews about. so i just cracked it open, feeling a jonesing for an amber-like beer.

it certainly is the right color. didn’t have much of a head or aroma – a little caramel, a little malty, but once again that weird sorta sweet smell all of their beers have. i crossed my fingers and took a sip. it does indeed have that same sweet kinda flavor all their beers do too. great mouthfeel and the rest of the flavor is pretty good (caramel, nutty, malty) but i just can’t get past that weird taste. it’s not necessarily bad but it’s just not what i want. and it leaves an aftertaste that’s akin to an artificial sweetener, not what i want lingering in my mouth after a beer.

it’s a pity because without that weird sweet flavor, it would be really great. i am just still so perplexed about what it is. some in the facebook groups say it’s diacetyl; some think it’s a proprietary yeast strain or malt producing this taste. i don’t know what it is but i think i’ve now decided i won’t be buying anymore of their beer because i am clearly sensitive to it. (it apparently does not bother some people. some don’t notice it at all.)

i think this is one of those things that everyone will have to figure out for themselves. give a few of their beers a try – maybe they will work for you. maybe you will be one of the people who don’t notice this weird taste that a lot of us do.

(and if anyone wants a six pack or two of their oatmeal stout or peanut butter stout, just holler.)

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!

paulaner – weizen-radler NA

i saw this a few weeks ago at dorignac’s and almost bought some, but was waiting to read some reviews first. i don’t usually go for the commercial import NAs but something about a lemony radler type brew sounded appealing, especially as we head into summer. in the following weeks i started seeing reviews online from folks saying it’s a little sweet but they really liked it. so i decided to give it a shot.

i went out to total wine yesterday after work to just check in and see if they had anything new. they had this paulaner NA and i was delighted to find they had wellbeing’s victory wheat in stock – something i hadn’t seen there at all since i started this journey back in the fall. (it had been on my list i’d given their beer buyer.) so i grabbed a 4 pack of the victory wheat and a few singles of things i’ve just never tried. (athletic’s run wild and bravus’ amber, reviews forthcoming.) i wanted to only buy a single of the paulaner radler but they didn’t have any up in the singles rack. i tried finding the guy who is usually working that area, but he was on lunch break. i took the six pack with me to check out to ask if i could just buy the single and sadly the kid working the checkout didn’t know how to price it if it wasn’t already in the singles rack and in their computer as a single. he tried calling someone but no one seemed to know how to do it. (this happened to me last time i was there too with a different beer – they have more NA beers for sale than they have slots on the singles rack to feature them.) so i just got frustrated and said what the hell, i’ll just buy the six pack. i just wanted to get out of there and go home.

well that was a mistake. i just tried one that had been chilling since yesterday. it’s not that i don’t like how it tastes – it is very sweet and a little lemony and overall tastes good. but it tastes like it has high frustose corn syrup in it. it has that really syrupy sweet taste that sodas have, which i used to be totally addicted to a few decades ago but went cold turkey and stopped drinking entirely in 2001. i found myself drinking the damn stuff like it was water. i drank about 2/3rds of it before i realized what was happening and poured the rest out.

it does not taste anything like beer or even really a regular radler/shandy. (paulaner does make an alcoholic version of this exact brew, though i’ve never had it.) it tasted like a sugary sweet soda with a little bit of a fruity lemon flavor. examining the bottle, i see that they say it is a “malt beverage with natural flavors.” “natural flavors” is never something you want to read on an ingredient list cuz it can mean anything, and usually means something not good for you.

so yeah. if you drink sodas and don’t have a problem with those kinds of sweeteners, then you’ll probably love this. i’m just really sensitive and can feel my glucose flipping out already from what i consumed. not sure what i’ll do with the rest of this six pack. (if you are reading this and want it, lemme know.)

guess i’ve learned my lesson – have more patience and make them sell you the single, even if it’s a pain in the ass.

big drop – galactic extra dark (milk stout)

this has been billed as the holy grail of dark NA beers, the most stout-like, by a lot of folks. so of course i had to try it.

big drop is a UK brewery that recently opened a brewery in chicago. so far the american HQ only offers this stout, their pine trail ale which i previously reviewed, and the most recently added paradiso IPA.

i had high hopes for this stout but my first impression is that it is lacking. not sure if i got a bad can or if this is how it always is, but there’s a weird metallic kinda taste to it that i just can’t get past.

the aroma is rather faint, a bit roasty, a little chocolatey. poured a very dark almost black with a small head that disappeared immediately. it is smooth but the carbonation is minimal, almost non-existent. i wouldn’t really say it’s “creamy” which is sad for something called a milk chocolate stout. and the flavor is kinda subtle, again roasty, almost burnt, nutty-chocolatey.

as i drink through the glass, i am getting used to the metallic taste and don’t notice it as much. it has kind of a dry finish and is almost light in a guinness kinda way, for a dark/stout. i like it more as i drink more of it. the chocolate comes out more too, the more you drink.

this brew does have lactose in it, in case that’s a concern. ingredients are listed as: water, lactose (milk), barley, malt, oats, rye, hops, yeast, cacao nibs, and the hops used is bramling cross. 99 calories and 21g of carbs. not bad for a stout. 36 IBU though honestly i don’t taste that. (i think the lactose balances out the bitterness.)

i dunno. i think the jury is still out. i like it ok, but not sure i like it as much as i thought i would or as much as everyone else seems to like it. don’t know that i need to keep it on hand but wouldn’t be sad to see it on a menu at a restaurant or on a bar beer list. i’m just a tad disappointed it didn’t knock me over. maybe i need to give it another go another time.

mikkeller – drink’in the sun

i’ve wanted to try this one for a long time as it gets consistently good reviews from folks who like wheat beers, so thanks NAbrews for offering singles so i could check it out.

mikkeller was founded in cophenhagen and now has breweries and brewpubs in multiple locations around the world. in 2016 they opened a brewery in san diego, and they’ve since also opened a spot in new york city. they make several different NA beers – i got this one and the raspberry limbo series which i think is like a sour/gose style but i’ll let you know when i get to it. today felt like more of an “american style wheat ale” kind of day.

it pours a nice light golden yellow with a small fluffy head that dissipated quickly outside on the back porch. (it’s really humid today, maybe that affects it?) nice compact carbonation though.

my nose is pretty stuffed up (thanks allergies) so can’t really say much about the aroma except that it’s a little funkier smelling than most NA wheats i’ve had, and i don’t smell much in the way of hops. though most wheat beers aren’t very hoppy so i guess that tracks for the style. i’m just not getting much aroma at all. maybe a little citrus. a little bready.

the taste is pretty unique. it’s got a slightly sweet malty background that most of the other NA wheats i’ve tried don’t have, with a little funky bitterness on the backend as it goes down. it has almost a sort of wortiness but not really; and it’s not off-putting. (mikkeller developed their own yeast named “mikkellensis” in order to make their NA beers, one that basically does not produce alcohol in the fermentation process and is responsible for their signature flavor not attributed to hops or malts.) mouthfeel is pretty great, a little light but creamy smooth. definitely feels like a beer in my mouth.

i like it but i think honestly i’d have to drink a few more to know if it’s the kind of beer i’d want to have on hand all the time. i do think it’s interesting and if it was offered at a bar or restaurant i’d be inclined to order it. seems like it would pair well with food. it’s a little more mellow than some of the brighter citrusy wheats that i’ve had (like rightside), but i think mikkeller did a good job naming this one cuz i could see it being a great lazy summer beer.

apparently over the years different varieties of this beer have been brewed, with different low ABVs. the current incarnation says .3% – more specific than most NA beers in the US which usually just generically say “less than .5%.”

i also love the can artwork and the overall branding of their beer. here’s a great article about their art director, philly-based designer keith shore. the 80s retro color palette and goofy illustration on drink’in the sun would make me pick it up off a shelf even if i didn’t know anything about it. a lot of their other beers have similarly great artwork.

i look forward to trying more of their beers and i will definitely need to have a few more of this one.

finding NA beer in new orleans – an update

in my fridge right now!

if you’ve been following my adventures in #NAcraftbeer over the past few months, you’ll know my biggest complaint is how hard it is to find any of this stuff locally here in new orleans. total wine is pretty much it right now, in terms of buying any of the smaller craft NA breweries, though the more commercial craft and macro NA options are getting easier to find. (i.e. sam adams just the haze, brooklyn brewery special effects and lagunitas IPNA are regularly carried in local grocery stores now, next to all the heineken 0.0, bud zero, coors edge, odoul’s, sharps, buckler, etc. and heineken 0.0 and lagunitas IPNA are starting to pop up on restaurant menus and bar beer lists too. so if you like any of those, then i guess it is getting easier to find NAs. but i’m a craft beer snob and want the good stuff from the smaller indie craft breweries, so i won’t be happy until NA beers from breweries like athletic, wellbeing, bravus, rightside and ceria can be found readily around town.)

i’ve been reaching out via email and fb messenger to a bunch of the local craft breweries to find out if anyone has an NA in the pipeline. most haven’t responded to me but the few who have did indicate they are aware of the trend/buzz in the industry and are intrigued by the idea but due to equipment costs and other additional costs of brewing an NA, don’t have one scheduled anytime soon. but it was at least nice to hear it’s on their radar. (zony mash and faubourg were the two who have responded to me so far; nothing from the rest of them. as i start to make my way back out into the world, now that i’m vaccinated, i will try to stop by places in person and ask.)

earlier today i sent emails to pelican craft brands and crescent crown, two of the biggest craft beer distributors in the city. i’m not alcoholic beverage industry savvy, though, so if there are other local beer distributors i should be reaching out to, please let me know in the comments. (as far as i can tell, glazers only does wine & spirits here in new orleans, but correct me if i’m wrong.) i don’t really know any other ways to lobby those in the industry here to make more good craft NAs available to consumers, and i don’t have any clout whatsoever – i’m just a random NA beer drinker who writes a blog that no one reads – but i’m doing what i can. maybe if we all start requesting our favorites everywhere we go, we’ll make some headway.

i have however been pleasantly surprised since i started writing about NA beer how many friends and social media contacts have reached out privately or commented publicly that they too are refraining from or cutting down on alcohol and are either interested in or are already drinking NA beer! i really thought i was alone in this when i first started and i just decided to write about it to document my journey mostly for me. but i was also hoping it might be helpful to others – and maybe it has! definitely gives me a little inspiration to keep going.

but, come on y’all, do chime in and tell me what YOU are drinking? what NAs are YOU enjoying?

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.)