Like a lot of people these days, we try to reduce the alcohol in my home …
It’s been about five years since I decided to try to limit drinking to the weekends, a commitment that I was able to largely stick to because while I gave up alcohol, I haven’t given up on the ritual. Namely, I still make sure to pour myself something to drink every night – it’s just not something Drink Drink. I love things I can prepare, like a cocktail bush, or a soft drink with a great squeeze of fresh citrus fruits, but sometimes, I’ll join my husband who has discovered an affinity for non-alcoholic beer.
We are not alone either. In 2020, even though the whole world was joking about being quarantined, it turns out that non-alcoholic beer sales are up 38%. I think it also helped that supermarket shelves suddenly offered options outside of O’Doul’s – from both commercial giants (Bud, Heineken, etc.) and smaller craft operations using art cans (like Athletic Brewing Company).
Naturally, I felt it was vitally important to our job to find out which NA beer was the best. So I turned to Kate Bernoux, Certified Beer Judge (!), Beer Reporter W. Good beer hunting And I asked her to be a judge of an official, although she certainly is not certified. Joe taste test cup.
Since Kate resides in Missoula, Montana, and was doing it alone, we relaxed the usual strict rules. The tasting will not be blind. I won’t be scribbling notes and studying her expressions as she sips. I tested six brands in total, which generally represent a good selection from the currently alcohol-free beer market. In its words: “O’Doul’s is an old school show; Heineken is one of the best-selling NA beers in the country; Athletic Brewing Co. is NA’s most well-known handicraft brand; Samuel Adams is new and widely available. Brooklyn was one of the first craft breweries to launch NA beer; and Two Roots NA Beer is an artisanal brand that had won medals at the Great American Beer Festival, so I thought it would be helpful to include an “award winning” example. “
While tasting, Kate focused on some of the expected scientific factors (color, smell, texture, fizz), as well as some less scientific factors (is it good for drinking while watching the match?). I only had one requirement: As much as the decision can be personal, choose a winner!
Here’s where I got down on both of them.
Special Effects (Brooklyn Brewery)
price: $ 12.99 / 6 pack
Tasting notes: This “non-alcoholic woody drink” is the darkest of the bunch – caramel color, like amber. The scent initially delivers a lot of brown bread-like aromas, but this scent is soon dominated by earthy woody hops. Unfortunately, the flavor is less rich and flavorful than I would have liked based on that nutty scent. There is a little caramel sweetness to sip but the highlight is those slightly pine hops. The texture is a bit fluffy to me – it’s akin to a lighter body beer, but without much carbonation, say, a light coors. In general, it’s okay. It reminds me of a very old Kahraman beer. It’s definitely drinkable but it’s not something I’d be excited to drink again and again.
Total score: 3/5
price: $ 7.99 / 6 pack
Tasting notes: This looks like the Heineken version you already know: brilliantly clear and straw-colored. It gives off a very sweet scent, like Kix beans with a red apple scent – I’m amazed at the sweet fruity scent. This follows in the sip; It is the sweetest and most beautiful beer that I have tried. Although there is no fruit in it, it has a strong pear or apple note with a little bitterness at the end. If you are used to drinking big market beers or even light colored Mexican imports, chances are the taste of this beer is very familiar. The texture is very light, but with good fizz and a quick, crisp finish. This is one of the most “changeable” options – you can easily drink a little while watching football and not feel overly full.
Overall score: 2.5 / 5
The alcohol-free golden drink from O’Doul
price: $ 6.79 / 6 pack
Tasting notes: This ultra-pure, straw-colored beer does not smell at all. I have to stick my nose away in the glass to find any smell at all. Finally, I opt for a lighter Cheerio scent, but not by much. Although people love to make fun of O’Doul’s, it tastes better than I can remember. It’s smooth, with a simple Cheerio-like flavor. This is the lowest flavor and easiest to drink yet. It is not noticeable and harmless; It probably tastes like what most people think of as “beer”. I don’t hate this; It is very smooth and straightforward.
Total score: 3/5
Upside Down (sports brewing company)
price: $ 12.99 / 6 pack
Tasting notes: This golden beer is, yes, golden light in color and crystal clear. It has a very calm aroma. A little lemon note, some soft bread crust underneath. It is subtle, yet fresh, attractive and attractive. That ready-made malt definitely carries the flavor; The sip is really elegant and not too heavy. It tastes more like a richer blonde beer or a light wheat beer, with a hint of sour sweetness at the end, soft and fluffy. This beer is friendly and easy-going, with a soft texture and medium light. You can introduce it to your friends who aren’t sure they like beer, and I bet they’ll be happy.
Final total: 4/5
The seconds pass quickly
Enough of Said Halles (two roots)
price: $ 11.99 / 6 pack
Tasting notes: When I pour this slightly fuzzy golden beer, I can really smell pilsner malt! To me, it smells like brioche or god’s bread – soft, rich and elegant. There are hardly any jumps in the scent, only a light earthy one. Pilsner malt goes into flavor, which tastes like straight white bread or some kind of unflavored biscuit. Spicy wood hops arrive at the end and block the gallbladder with strong bitterness. Best of all is the texture! It’s more filling than most of the alcohol-free beers I’ve eaten, offering some of the actual stuff to drink, not just water. This is the beer to buy if your biggest complaint about non-alcoholic beer is that it’s too watery or thin. In general, I like this very much. I would be happy to drink this on a backyard barbecue with burgers or tacos. I see why this won the Great American Beer Festival Gold in the non-alcoholic beer category.
Total score: 4/5
Just The Haze
price: $ 8.79 / 6 packages
Tasting notes: This hazy IPA is similar to mimosa in color and even in smell. It has a large, bright citrus aroma that I can smell as I pour it. It reminds me of orange creams, more like a cocktail than a beer. It’s the same flavor – IPA is an orange, lemonade, slightly tropical juice, and delicious. (Brunch feelings!) The fine malt underneath makes for a really smooth and cohesive sip. The texture is soft and velvety, with a good weight to it. This is a well-made IPA! If this brewery introduces me to and doesn’t tell me it’s non-alcoholic, then I have no idea.
Final total: 5/5
Thank you so much, Kate! Do you have a favorite alcohol-free beer or other beverage? Please tell us about this.
PS more Taste tests, Including Dark chocolate bars. And the “Why did I quit drinking and how it changed my life. “
(Photo by Kate Brandon McMahon.)