Tag Archives: nonalcoholic

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!

athletic – nature nut peanut butter porter

i’m realizing i never did post my thoughts about this beer. i’m on my second six pack of it and frankly my opinion keeps changing. sometimes i think it’s just OK and not very exciting; one time i even poured half of one out; but most times i feel like it’s the best dark NA i’ve had yet. i can’t decide. (the one i’m drinking right now as i write this review i’m enjoying a great deal.)

i’ve had mixed results with my pours; most of the time there’s not much head at all (none in this picture), but i don’t know if that’s the beer or my glassware. (apparently some detergents leave a residue that kills the head. but other beers i pour at home seem to have a head and i hand wash all my glassware exactly the same way, so i’m not sure what’s going on.) it pours a dark brown almost black. pretty decent mouthfeel with good tight carbonation but i wish it was a little creamier. it’s a little thin.

the nuttiness is there in both aroma and taste – that peanut flour definitely does the job. it’s got a nice level of sweetness to it – not too much but just enough. (i tried it with some vanilla ice cream the other night and i highly recommend it!) there’s a nice roastiness going on, and some subtle chocolate notes too, due to cocoa nibs. you can taste the vanilla too. there’s a lot going on in this brew.

sadly, it is no longer for sale on the site, as it was a limited release. but maybe they will bring it back at some point. i love that it raised funds for the two for the trails initiative to help maintain and rehabilitate trails, walking paths, and green spaces, and that it was a joint project with justin’s nut butters. (each six pack you ordered came with some squeeze packs of justin’s almond and peanut butter! but no, there was no nut butter in the actual beer.)

I would probably buy more if it was available, as i’m finding it much harder to be satisfied with any of the NA darks on the market that i’ve tried.

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.

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.