NA (ABV < 0.5%) beers (2022)

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by elNopalero, Jan 1, 2022.

  1. elNopalero

    elNopalero Poo-Bah (4,366) Oct 14, 2009 California
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    Last years no alcohol beer thread showed that there’s considerable interest in NA craft options, whether it’s from folks curious about what’s out there, or making a commitment to it—be it for a day, a month, or just one beer. With that in mind, I thought I’d kick off this years thread.

    For those just joining us:

    Athletic comes highly recommended, generally, for variety and ‘beer-like’ character. On the other end, I think the consensus from last years thread was to avoid Bravus. And if you’re tasting just know that todays NA beers are better than what you might have had in the past, but they’re still NA—so judge accordingly.

    …and with that, to kick us off for 2022,
    I have two new (to me) kvasses in the fridge, and a decent sampling of NA craft to try out later this month. ¡Salud!
     
  2. elNopalero

    elNopalero Poo-Bah (4,366) Oct 14, 2009 California
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  3. sharpski

    sharpski Meyvn (1,238) Oct 11, 2010 Oregon
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    3 Magnets Fuzzy Hat by Self Care

    [​IMG]

    Described on the can as a British Brew, I'd call it a Bitter. Malt texture in spades, it's a convincing example with 3 Mag's subtle-but-it's-there NA fermentation characteristics. Bonus that they used local craft maltster Skagit Valley Malting.
     
  4. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Devotee (464) Aug 24, 2020 California

    Exactly! There is a reason why NA IPAs (for example) are rated against other NA beers and NOT against full ABV IPAs. IMO the mods should delete any NA review where the beer has a low score because the reviewer says it is not good compared to a full ABV beer of the same style.
     
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  5. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (3,477) May 30, 2005 Michigan
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  6. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (5,258) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
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    Opened up a can of Athletic's Lodge Life last night. It carried the same heft as All Out, but with a much different flavor profile. Almost tasted perfumy to me. Still, a good texture and feel for those seeking a heavier NA beer.

    I intend to review the new-to-me Athletic I have, but opted to consume this can while playing video games.
     
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  7. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Devotee (464) Aug 24, 2020 California

    Looking forward to your review. Athletic has offered a couple interesting rotating or one-off beers lately including that one, but my stash of Athletic has been growing to exceed capacity to store it properly since I already get 2 6pks a month of their std fare as a club member, plus I bought a few of their others in Nov. I really wish they sold mixed six packs. Occasionally I have been less than totally thrilled with their one-off beers but testing the first can still leaves 5 more taking up storage space.
     
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  8. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (5,258) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
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    I'll be certain to share. Trying to for-go 'real beer' during the work week and any day proceeding a big workout. That leaves lots of time to lean into NA. I bought something like five different 6 packs. I'm sure the last cans won't be fresh by the time I get to them. I will make an effort to get to them closer to fresh when I review. I did order the Rice Helles and ESB - both I'm pretty darn curious about. I think I'm "set" for a long time.

    I will probably supplement my stash with local pick ups when stores have a sale. An $8 Athletic 6-pack here locally is a no brainer, even if it's just their flagship stuff. It'll scratch the itch just fine, even if I can't provide a 'new' review.
     
  9. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,427) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    But isn't that the way the brewers promote them?
    The Athletic Difference
    On top of that, they've adopted the use of beer style labeling ("IPA", "ESB" "Hefeweizen", etc.) which used to be against TTB regulations. Still is according to the LABELING AND ADVERTISING OF MALT BEVERAGES last updated "12/10/2021":
     
  10. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (5,258) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
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    I think we've discussed this in the past, but I prefer the style naming for NA beers. It's a similar scenario (though, not against TTB regulations) for vegan food to be named after its 'real' counterpart. I think it serves to set some expectations as for what you'll be getting, with the underlying understanding the products are fundamentally different.

    If I ordered a 'vegan meatloaf', I would know what texture, flavor profile, etc. to expect to some degree. If I ordered a 'kidney beans and seitan loaf', I would have no clue how that entrée would be flavored without some further description.
     
  11. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Devotee (464) Aug 24, 2020 California

    @jesskidden, I agree they are promoted as a being similar to their full ABV counterparts.. Better expectation management by the NA brewers, i.e., "ours is the best of fake beers but unlike full ABV beer" would not sell their product. Expecting NA beer to taste like a full ABV counterpart is folly and akin to expecting sugar-free carob chips to taste like Godiva chocolate (IMO).

    I checked my stash of Athletic "beverages" and some, but not all contain reference to a specific style (like "IPA").

    I think arguments could be made multiple ways for the "best" way to rate NA beers. BA has chosen to rate NA beers against other NA beers, not against the full ABV counterparts referenced on the NA cans. To me, if BA says rate against other NA beers then that is what should be done. If BA ever changes things and says "rate NA against all beers of the same identified style" then I could go that way too.
     
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  12. beer_beer

    beer_beer Zealot (595) Feb 13, 2018 Finland
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    When you rate NA beers you can concentrate only on how good they are, as they all are of the same style :wink:
     
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  13. elNopalero

    elNopalero Poo-Bah (4,366) Oct 14, 2009 California
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    NABeer Advocates:

    sounds like the NA beer tasting will be this month's theme. @FBarber dropped my name as a host, since I suggested it, but what do I know about hosting a NA tasting?

    I suppose this is one of the things I put on my list of BA goals (#4!), but--anyone here with more experience interested in taking this one on?
     
  14. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (5,258) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
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    I'd nominate @beer_beer first, since he's been a sole proprietor of NA for a long time.

    I'm happy to take it on if this falls thru and the schedule allows for me to join.
     
  15. beer_beer

    beer_beer Zealot (595) Feb 13, 2018 Finland
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    Thanks. You are welcome to start, @elNopalero or you!

    I have my own role :grin:
     
    #15 beer_beer, Jan 4, 2022
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2022
  16. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Devotee (464) Aug 24, 2020 California

    oh, this could be fun and verrry interesting. I am curious to see how many participate in the tasting. Based on the comments in the Dryuary/alcohol free January thread, it is unclear to me how many people actually are using NA beer as a substitute for full ABV beers in January and how many are just eliminating beer and drinking completely unrelated beverages. There seems to be a prevailing attitude among full-ABV beer drinkers that NA beers are terrible and they will never drink them. Perhaps the tasting will consist of only the same people who regularly post on the <0.5% ABV thread plus a few curious lurkers.
     
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  17. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Devotee (464) Aug 24, 2020 California

    Think how cool it would be to get someone from Athletic or from Wellbeing to be actively involved in this tasting, perhaps by leading it off with a brief discussion of how NA beer is made and the challenges in the process vs. full ABV beers.
     
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  18. Harrison8

    Harrison8 Poo-Bah (5,258) Dec 6, 2015 Missouri
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    I may actually be able to do that....

    I'll send an email.
     
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  19. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Devotee (464) Aug 24, 2020 California

    EXCELLENT! I have found the staff at Athletic to be very responsive to e-mails.
     
  20. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Poo-Bah (1,880) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts
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    Wouldn’t the better comparison be caffeinated coffee to decaf?

    And if so, then decaf can come damn close to tasting as good as regular.
     
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  21. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Devotee (464) Aug 24, 2020 California

    I don't agree with coffee being the appropriate comparison. Caffeine is not primarily responsible for flavor and mouthfeel of coffee. Everything I read says alcohol is a major contributor to beer feel and overall experience.
     
  22. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Poo-Bah (1,880) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts
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    Interesting. Because I've had beers in the 2-3% range that were excellent, much less compromise.

    I wonder what the cut off is? For example, could a 1% beer dramatically improve flavor/mouthfeel compared to <0.5%.

    I always regret that I lost the article from Scientific American which detailed why 4% ABV is the cutoff for when beer stops being hydrating. Anything 4% or lower (the lower the better obviously) and the beer still somewhat hydrates you.

    This was part of the reason 4% was the cutoff for what was considered "session beer" in the UK.
     
  23. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Devotee (464) Aug 24, 2020 California

    great question! possibly worthy of its own thread to see if there is experience with low AbV, but >0.5% ABV beers. I recall a related thread or at least several comments within the last year that mentioned low ABV because I commented how one that I had (Firestone's FlyJack) was not good, even though it was 4%.. my review noted thin mouthfeel for an IPA.
     
    #23 BillAfromSoCal, Jan 5, 2022
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2022
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  24. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Poo-Bah (1,880) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts
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    One of my absolute favorite beers from Notch is their Tenner. 4%, no compromise whatsoever. Especially if pulled off a Lukr tap at their brewery which improves the mouthfeel.

    And of course, there's a litany of English session ales between 3-4% on cask that are delicious and have great mouthfeel.

    But yeah, don't want to derail this thread. I'll start a separate one.

    Cheers
     
  25. tigg924

    tigg924 Poo-Bah (6,857) Apr 30, 2008 Massachusetts
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    For anyone interested, Wellbeing has an Oatmeal Cookie Stout on sale on their website now. Their last small batch beer, the Pumpkin Ale was phenomenal.
     
  26. tigg924

    tigg924 Poo-Bah (6,857) Apr 30, 2008 Massachusetts
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    Has anyone here had Atmos Cosmos--their peanut butter stout? I like full strength peanut butter stouts but Bravus has me really hesitant about trying another NA version of this style.
     
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  27. elNopalero

    elNopalero Poo-Bah (4,366) Oct 14, 2009 California
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    No Atmos Cosmos, and I didn't see it alongside the other Atmos beers I came across yesterday. I did pick up their IPA, but passed on the (NA)DIPA as it had a canned on date going back to September!
     
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  28. elNopalero

    elNopalero Poo-Bah (4,366) Oct 14, 2009 California
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    Also--now might be a good time to plug our upcoming NA Beer Tasting for next weekend--January 14-16th.
     
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  29. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (2,025) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
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    I've been hard pressed to find a NA stout that comes close. Athletics all out was the closest for me. Wellbeing Coffee cream and untitled art stores are pretty awful, and I have despised EVERYTHING from Bravus that I have tried. I'm over trying to find a stout alternative. Guinness is low in alcohol to begin with. Why push it? Based on the calories from carbs in the NA beers I have shifted to finding lower abv beers instead.
     
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  30. sharpski

    sharpski Meyvn (1,238) Oct 11, 2010 Oregon
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    Did you try Deschutes' Irish Dry Stout?
     
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  31. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (2,025) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
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    Haven't seen it on shelves in these parts... I'm a fan of Deschutes in general and will keep an eye out for this.
     
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  32. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,427) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Local NY-NJ NPR station WNYC story from yesterday's Weekend Edition. A Non-Liquor Liquor Store At first listening to it, I thought "Wait, NY liquor storex don't sell beer" then, of course, I remembered that this store doesn't sell either wine/spirits or beer.

    During the neo-Prohibition era of the 1980s I recall some alarmists in some states passed laws that prevented underage people from buying near beers (that scary "not more than 0.5% alcohol by volume" stuff!). Wonder if that's still the case or just ignored in most places (like at supermarkets with a dusty bottom shelf of sixpacks of O'Douls).

    When I was about 15 or so I found cans of this at the local 7-11 in the pop cooler - "What the heck is this stuff?". I mean, I liked root beer, ginger ale and birch beer... and liked rock 'n' roll.
    [​IMG]
    I was not impressed.
     
    #32 jesskidden, Jan 10, 2022
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2022
  33. eppCOS

    eppCOS Poo-Bah (1,950) Jun 27, 2015 Colorado
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    The closest thing to "decent" I've had in an NA Stout is... you guessed it... the Untitled Art chocolate milk stout. Hopefully around soon, but that was the first one where I didn't want to spit out what I'd sampled. I think the Athletic "all out" stout... captures how I felt about it - i wanted all of it out of my mouth, right then and there.
    I'll look for Deschutes' Irish stout, too, not sure I've seen that around here...
     
  34. GlenFarclas

    GlenFarclas Initiate (85) Oct 1, 2021 Connecticut

    Interestingly enough, I've seen so many positive reviews for All Out. I really like it myself, and have had it in rotation alongside "leaded" beers most of last year. I am in CT, so perhaps I'm getting it fresher? I wonder if that has to do with it. Naturally of course it could just be preference too haha. I'll say I find All Out to be more akin to say a schwarzbier like Kostrizer (which I think is great) than a stout.

    I'd like to try some of what UA does but locally it's 20 bucks a 6er, which feels like a major mark-up.
     
  35. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (2,025) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
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    How would you compare UA scores to the Chocolate milk stout? The smores was a drain pour for me.
     
  36. eppCOS

    eppCOS Poo-Bah (1,950) Jun 27, 2015 Colorado
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    Not sure I understand, but I've never had any "smores" variant from UA, just the choco milk stout which I thought was pretty solid, like a lighter version of the old left hand nitro stout. I dunno.
     
  37. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (2,025) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
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    I didn't see the CM stout so I never tried it. I did try the smores stout and it was garbage. I was hoping you had tried both and could offer comparison notes. I have a 6x-1 you can sample. :nauseated_face:
     
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  38. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Poo-Bah (1,880) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts
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    Might be blasphemy, but I had a Heineken 0.0 at a bar this weekend. It was actually...pretty good. One of the better N/A beers I've ever had.

    Almost tasted like an actual Heineken (non-skunked).
     
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  39. Ranbot

    Ranbot Defender (664) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    I'm curious to know what their response is. I sent Athletic an email last year letting them know there was a lot of discussion here about their beers. BA was hosting many brewer AMAs then too, and I suggested an AMA with Athletic could be unique and generate a lot of interest. They responded pleasantly and thanked me for contacting them. However, they said nothing about making an appearance on these forums, and clearly they didn't show up. I bet @Todd would have better luck. However, it would not surprise me if we're not worth Athletic's time because they reach a relatively low number of users here compared to social media. Also, BA's more knowledgeable/technical membership could be both a blessing and curse. Many here have the knowledge to respect what it takes to make a decent NA beer, but we also can ask very technical questions, which can take a long time to respond to. The time spent responding to individual questions might not necessarily translate into more sales. BAs are more polite than the internet at large, but we're still an opinionated, fickle bunch.

    Still, here's to hoping Athletic responds. :beers:
     
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  40. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Devotee (464) Aug 24, 2020 California

    Agreed. I wonder how many of us are members of the Athletic club where we get monthly deliveries and access to limited edition beers and whether mentioning that at least "X" number of Athletic members are likely to participate in the forum would sway their decision to participate.