Tag Archives: NAbeer

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.)

brew dog – faux fox sharp raspberry

i have not historically been a super huge fan of sours or goses but in the spirit of trying to widen my palate and be adventurous, i’ve been trying a few here and there and actually liking some of them. i’d never had anything from the british-born brewery-of-the-people brew dog before, and usually you can tell from drinking one NA flavor from a brewery if it’s worth trying their other flavors – you can get a general sense of style. i’d seen a few good reviews of this one so i thought i’d give it a try. i figured, i like raspberries.

brew dog, while born in britain, is now an international beer conglomerate with breweries in both england and the US, with plans to expand in other countries. in addition, they have 29 brewdog bars serving their beers in the UK and 17 more around the world, with their flagship US outpost in columbus, ohio called the doghouse – a craft brewery/hotel combo complete with a craft beer museum. they have crowdfunded all of their capital so far, are planning an IPO soon, and they claim the entire company is carbon negative. so they seem pretty interesting on paper. i had high hopes.

well sadly, i’m disappointed. as you can see by the head on this, it’s pretty carbonated, with big fat bubbles and lots of them. it feels much more like a soda in your mouth than a beer. this to me tastes more like a beer-flavored seltzer. and while that is a thing now and lots of folks like that concept, it’s not what i was expecting and not what i personally enjoy.

it’s tart for sure – they weren’t kidding about it being a sharp raspberry. but it’s so thin and bubbly i can’t even really enjoy it. it’s got 29 calories and 4g of carbs, putting it in the “diet beer” category with brands like grüvi, partake and surreal. if you are a fan of bubbly waters and fruity sodas, you might like this. but i don’t. as pretty as it is in the glass – and it smells pretty great too – i’m not even gonna finish this one. sorry brew dog.

i have one of their coffee beers in the fridge from my recent sample order, so i guess i will give them another try another day. but this one is definitely not for me. maybe their leaded beers are better?

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.

two roots – enough said helles

so after a brief break wherein i tried hard to drink up some of the stock of NA beer that was overtaking my fridge, i got a shipment from NAbrews yesterday with six singles of new-to-me beers.

NAbrews is a reseller that has alternating stock of lots of the popular and limited release craft NA beers in the US. i am learning that it’s just not worth buying a whole six pack of something you’ve never tasted before, especially if you are paying for shipping, so sites like NAbrews let you buy singles for a premium price so you can try stuff out. (you can also buy full four or six packs too.) it’s hard to pay so much for a mixed six pack of beer, but i rationalized that if i was buying these one at a time at a bar i would have paid more. and this is really the only way for me here in new orleans to get to taste some of them, since total wine hasn’t ordered (or maybe can’t order) any of these, which were all on my list i sent to their beer buyer.

(NAbrews also has an affiliate program which they offer to anyone who makes a purchase, so, ya know, if you decide to check them out you can use my code MARGARET893 for 10% off and i get a little kickback.)

i learned a new trick for beer photos from the beer geeks in the NA beer facebook groups!

it was sweaty and hot out today walking dogs, so when i got home i wanted to try one of my new brews. i chose two roots brewing’s enough said helles, which was a fine choice to accompany my veggie burger lunch. i had to actually look up what a helles lager was to make sure i knew what it was supposed to taste like: a helles is a german-styled malty, bready beer that has a little sweetness balanced with a spicy hops that’s only mildly bitter. i’m sure i’ve drunk many in my time but it’s not a style i would necessarily think to order on the regular.

as you can see by the pic, this two roots NA version pours really nicely, a beautiful golden yellow color with a great head that lingered and laced nicely along the edge of the glass as i drank it. it has an herbal and bready aroma, and great light body – it really feels like a regular beer in my mouth. and i have to say, it is text book helles. everything i said above about what a helles should be, this is. it’s delicious, refreshing, smooth, light but complex in flavor. i don’t know how they did this but it’s no wonder they won a gold medal at the 2019 great american beer festival for this brew. and as they tout on their site, it has only 80 calories and is rich in vitamin B12 and electrolytes.

so yeah. i would drink more of this if total wine ever started carrying it, making it easier (and cheaper) to procure. aside from this helles, they have two different IPAs and just this week released their version of an NA michelada. (not something i’m interested in but definitely adventurous in the NA beer world.) i’m glad i finally got to try this and now know what the hype about this san diego-based brewery is all about.

wellbeing hellraiser amber + surreal brewing 17 mile porter

i have a habit of compulsively checking the total wine app for non-alcoholic beer at my local metairie store, to see if they have added anything new, and yesterday i saw surreal brewing’s 17 mile porter and a few other new things pop up so i decided it was time to trek out to the burbs again to check it out. (i hadn’t been out there in many weeks.)

and sure enough, they did have the 17 mile porter in stock. the other things i’d seen on their app with “limited quantities” – ceria grainwave and wellbeing victory wheat, both beers i like a lot and would have bought – were not there and there wasn’t even a shelf tag for either of them so i realized those were probably just errors on the website. but i was able to snag a single of the 17 mile porter to test it out and picked up a 6 pack of wellbeing’s hellraiser amber, one of my favorites that i was out of at home, so it wasn’t a wasted trip at all.

(pic below is from last night after they’d gotten cold enough to enjoy. i think i realized it is probably my most “perfect” NA beer i’ve tried so far, the one that most closely mimics the experience of drinking an alcoholic beer and like those i enjoy drinking, as ambers are usually my favorite. i really wish i could go out to a bar and drink this somewhere in new orleans. so good!)

i also finally met the assistant manager of that total wine store who happens to be the NA beer buyer and was able to ask her to order ceria’s beers as well as a few other things. she gave me her card so i later emailed her a much longer list of craft NA brews i really want to try and that i’ve seen being carried at other total wine stores around the country. we’ll see if she can get any of them, as distribution down here really sucks for craft NA beer. but she seemed happy to look them up and try so i’m hopeful.

i am at my pet sit for the weekend and am just now cracking the 17 mile porter open while i enjoy some netflix with the pets. i didn’t really have high hopes for this one as i recognize (and from prior experience with their beers) that surreal is one of the “diet” NA beer companies, like partake and grüvi – their beers tend to be lighter, thinner and have much lower calorie and carb content than many of the other NA breweries. not that that is necessarily a bad thing, and i have liked some of those breweries’ beers, but i’m finding for my own palate, i prefer a fuller body and flavor experience than what i’ve tasted from them so far. but lots of folks in my NA beer facebook groups have raved about the 17 mile porter and i don’t have a lot of darker beers in my regular rotation so i was interested to try it.

it pours a very dark brown with a pretty good tan-colored head, though that dissipates fairly quickly. the first aroma i get is dark chocolate and a roasty nuttiness and a little coffee. it is as i suspected fairly thin but has a good mouthfeel nonetheless, due to tight uniform carbination. sadly i don’t taste as much of the chocolate and roastiness that i smelled. flavor is fairly subtle but it does go down easily with a dry finish. for 50 calories and 10g carbs, i’d say it’s pretty good. i like it a little better than grüvi‘s stout though i can’t quite put my finger on why. but they are definitely in the same general ballpark. i like this fine but probably won’t buy it again.

i think my search for my go-to dark beer continues. so far athletic’s all out stout is probably the one i like the most, in terms of non-coffee darks. there are several more on my wishlist to try though, so i’m holding out hope that the perfect NA dark beer for me exists.

six months!

i just realized that this past tuesday was my six month mark, post-surgery! woo hoo!

nothing really to report in terms of health updates. i continue to inch closer back to “normal” or whatever that was pre-surgery, mid-pandemic. no lingering effects from the second moderna shot, that i can tell – and i am fully vaccinated now! it has felt really wonderful to share a few hugs with other vaccinated friends. finally the year of no-human-physical-contact ends.

i am still taking only four dog walks each morning most days, but pet sitting is really picking up. this week i have another long weekend pet sit (a dog, two cats and two birds) and have several more bookings in may and june so far. i’m trying to be smart about it – spacing them out, not taking back-to-back bookings, so i have time to rest and reset in between. i know it seems like staying overnight with dogs and cats in other peoples’ houses should be a cush, fun job, and it definitely can be fun cuz i do love all the critters, but it can actually be quite stressful and physically demanding in my older age – all the extra dog walks, poop scooping, and running back and forth between clients homes and my own to feed my needy feline pair. and all the disrupted sleep, usually from pets who are confused being out of their regular schedule and without their owners. the bad sleep is just something i can’t absorb anymore without consequences the next day. i always joked that this business would have been a GREAT idea to have had in my 20s when i was younger and more resilient. but here i am, 53 and 10 years in business. i guess the challenge now is just to learn how to work smarter.

the other thing i realized is that if it’s been six months since i had surgery, it’s been almost seven since i’ve had any alcohol. (i stopped drinking a couple weeks before surgery, just to be in the best possible shape for such a traumatic physical experience.) it’s such a weird thing to realize, for me. i have been a beer drinking fool since i was 15. i don’t think i’ve ever gone more than a few days, maybe a week, without alcohol my whole life. i have never been an alcoholic or even considered myself to have a problem with alcohol, but if i’m honest i can certainly say i’ve abused alcohol on many occasions and definitely drank way too much, often. drinking is such a part of social life here, and as a shy, socially-awkward introvert i have often relied on alcohol as my social lubricant to get me through the anxiety of being around people. plus i do enjoy the relaxation and melting away of the world’s cares it provides short term.

as i have aged though, i think all that beer/alcohol finally caught up to me, because the last decade or so i’ve become acutely aware of how much my body punishes me the next day for imbibing. my body no longer likes alcohol. (maybe it never did but the after effects were easier to suffer through when i was younger.) i still enjoy the buzz it gives me, and i still love the taste of craft beer, but the headaches, the body fatigue and pain, and the risks of what further damage it is doing to my brain and other internal organs is no longer worth it to me. (i only recently realized the link between alcohol consumption and cancer!) i’m not saying i won’t ever drink alcohol again, but when i do, i hope it’s in much more moderation and maybe even only as a special treat. i can envision going back out to bars/restaurants with friends and having one of my favorite leaded beers and then switching to NA for the rest of the evening. that would seem a good compromise to me.

finding the deliciousness of the new wave of craft non-alcoholic beer has given me a whole new perspective on it too. i can drink this stuff and not crave an actual beer. it can represent to me much of what “having a beer” always did for me, and it still satisfies the taste element. no, it’s not the same – NA beer is always going to taste different than alcoholic beer – it’s different, but it’s still good. and interesting. and there’s variety, just like in the craft beer world. now if we could make it the norm for bars and restaurants in the US and NOLA specifically to be offering a selection of these on their menus next to the craft beer roster, then i would be a happy gal. (europe has been on this trend for years. you can pretty much find NA beer on tap in lots of pubs and there is a much wider variety of NA craft beer being produced. europeans understand that NA beer is not just for alcoholics; mindful drinking should be for everyone.)

the most surprising part to me of this NA adventure is how much i’m learning about beer! it’s not that i didn’t have some knowledge of the different styles and brewing techniques before – i’ve always been somewhat interested – but i think drinking without the alcohol makes me even more interested. (and writing about it now also contributes, i’m sure.) it makes me more adventurous in trying different styles and brands too. i have lately tapered off my wild buying sprees of new and different beers, choosing to stick with the ones i’ve really enjoyed the most, but there’s still plenty of NA brews on my must-try list and i’ll get around to them eventually. so stay tuned!