Dry January didn’t quite have the same sizzle this year as in the past. Many who might have gone without chose instead to support local breweries and restaurants and others, fatigued from the year that was also did not make the resolution.
Although January is a good demarcation point to watch your alcohol intake, it doesn’t have to be the only one. Especially since there are many options in the Non-Alcoholic (N/A) aisle.
One new entrant is BrewDog. The Scottish brewery with an outpost in Columbus, Ohio. They have always courted publicity and left of center thinking and they used both of those attributes to create a beer called Nanny State. A low alcohol jab at those in government who wanted more regulations on pubs and drinking. They followed that up with another low alcohol collaboration with Lamb of God Beer called Ghost Walker.
Fast forward and now they have a whole AF line. AF standing for Alcohol Free of course. There is Elvis AF, a spin on their Elvis IPA, Hazy AF for those who now only drink hazy styles, Punk AF, the N/A version of their standard bearer Punk IPA, and finally Wake Up Call, a coffee N/A beer.
I have tasted many N/A, gluten-free and low alcohol beers. The majority show in both aroma and flavor that they are not the full orchestra. Some taste a bit green, as if they haven’t been left to age long enough. Others have a tell-tale watery character. It is not an easy type of beer to make.
I would rank BrewDog in the above average tier. The hoppy beers just don’t have the bitter kick that is needed to match their alcohol counterparts and they are all very light. My favorite is actually the coffee porter. It is not full bodied either, but the coffee flavor seems to work better than the hoppier ones.
But much like trying meat or milk substitutes, the point is not to find exact matches, but instead to create something different. Lean into the lightness, lean into adjuncts like coffee or chocolate, make a single hop N/A beer. These beers fill a need for designated drivers or people like me who can’t watch a football game the same after three or four Double IPAs and could use a breather.
February frees us from Dry-uary and is also (this year), the month where we Golden Staters celebrate California Beer Week. Check in to see what types of creative virtual events that you can participate in from the comfort of your own home. Also, there might be some virtual tasting boxes still available. The extended week stretches from February 12 – 21.
Switching gears again, another beverage category that I have been dabbling in is hard seltzers. Much like N/A beers, the really good ones that divert your attention from craft beer have to be sought out and not surprisingly are made by craft breweries who can put their spin on the style. There is also another alternative. The Bruery has Spritz This! and the reason I highlight it is because it is a golden ale aged in wine barrels and it uses Pinot Noir and Alicante Bouschet grapes. A very far cry from the sugar sweet bombs that dominate the hard seltzer sales.