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Ultimate 6er | Non-Alcoholic Craft Beers

non alcoholic craft beer
Bryant Vander Weerd

It used to be that the term “non-alcoholic beer” brought looks of confusion from those who heard it. To the craft beer connoisseur these words are even more foreign. However, alcohol free craft beers are coming up in the world and it’s time we start paying attention.

Perhaps you’re going dry for awhile. Maybe a health condition or medication prevents you from drinking alcohol. Or, like me, you could be abstaining from alcohol in solidarity with your pregnant wife. Whatever the reason, these booze-free brews have a slew of handy uses.

Feast your eyes, and then your palates, on these six craft beers that’ll make you forget there’s no alcohol in them.

Chandelier Red IPA | Surreal Brewing

Non-alcoholic IPAs are a tough niche. They can lack certain fullness due to their lack of, well, alcohol. Surreal’s flagship beer, Chandelier Red, is a Red IPA. It’s pretty heavily carbonated and has a fairly light but refreshing flavor. Tastes less like an IPA and more like an amber bock.

Chandelier contains a mere 33 calories and the Surreal website boasts the “health forward” qualities of their beers. Chandelier is gluten-reduced and contains electrolytes and antioxidants. So now you can say with absolute certainty that drinking beer IS healthy for you! You can drink Chandeliers all night and not end up hanging from one.

Victory Wheat | Wellbeing Brewing

Billed as a “Sports Brew” right on the 16oz can, Victory Wheat has an immediate citrus aroma to it and refreshing crisp mouthfeel. It’s wheaty yellow tint and lemon tasting notes lead you to believe you’re drinking a shandy. And at .19% ABV, it has less alcohol than a glass of orange juice. It’s a good beer for a hot day.

Wellbeing Brewing is another entirely non-alcoholic brewery coming up in the craft world. Like Surreal, they tout numerous health benefits including electrolytes. According to a Wellbeing blog post, A beer is one the best recovery drinks you can find – except its alcohol counteracts most of those micronutrient health benefits. WellBeing Victory Wheat and its electrolytes, vitamins, protein, and antioxidants easily top protein shakes or Gatorade on our list of workout recovery solutions.”

A post-workout beer? Sign me up.

Oatmeal Stout | Bravus Brewing

Bravus’ website claims they are “North America’s first non-alcoholic craft brewery” and right below that it says “forget what you know about non-alcoholic beer”. Done. Say no more.

And after the first sip of their Oatmeal Stout I HAD forgotten it was non-alcoholic.

The only thing that separates Bravus’ stout from its boozy brethren is the lack of creaminess that usually comes with a stout. It feels more like a bock but tastes like heaven. Chocolate notes up front, coffee notes in the back, and a party in between. A party that you can drive home from.

Pale | Partake Brewing

Partake is based in Canada and was founded by Ted Fleming. Fleming began brewing non-alcoholic beers after he gave up drinking when he was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. He wanted those who can’t – ahem – partake to still be able to socialize and enjoy beer without having to worry about the after effects of alcohol. That mindset captures the very essence of what NA craft brewing is all about.

Partake Pale has a light amber hue to it and a very piny smell, almost like Pliny The Elder. The foam head looks like real beer foam, which surprisingly doesn’t always happen with NA beers. The carbonation is heavy and the flavor is pretty mild, although it does have a very hoppy front. A lot of pales out there have very long-lingering after tastes, but not Partake Pale. It’s there and gone, but that can actually be a good thing. You can drink a good number of these throughout the day or evening, and even switch to a lighter style of beer without the heavy hoppiness interfering with your taste buds.

Grainwave | Ceria Brewing

Colorado-based Ceria recently announced they were coming out with a THC-infused IPA but that sounds like another “Ultimate 6er” for another time. This non-THC non-alcohol beer is just labeled as “Grainwave” and “Belgian-style hops” and the bottom of the can is labeled as a “Malt Beverage” To the novice NA drinker this could cause some confusion as to what exactly is contained within.

So as I ponder the intricacies behind what qualifies something as a “beer” verses a “malt beverage”, I realize it’s getting warm and I need to stop daydreaming and start pouring. It comes out super light and almost cloudy. Doesn’t take long to realize it’s a Belgian Wit style. Very interesting fruity citrus smell. Notes of orange peel and coriander really help the flavor along. This beer would be a very good choice on a hot day.

Special Effects | Brooklyn Brewing

If there were awards for best packaging and labeling within an Ultimate 6er, Special Effects would take home gold. The trippy spiral pattern on the can and the box is reminiscent of warm summer jam band festivals and Red Rocks concert tailgating. It’s also the only beer in this 6er that comes from a brewery that makes regular craft beer as well. Brooklyn has a number of good go-to beers and Special Effects can easily compete with the rest of them.

Special Effects has a strong amber color and SMELLS like a full-strength beer. It has a great hoppy taste to it and the carbonation is present but not overpowering. Out of all the beers in this 6er it’s certainly the most hop-forward. The lightness of flavor on the back end never lets you forget you’re drinking “near beer”, but the folks at Brooklyn have got NA craft brewing down good.

Feature image photo credit: Partake Brewing.

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