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Review: Three Non-Alcoholic IPAs

Can a non-alcoholic IPA stand up to the real deal?

If you're trying to drink less (or not at all), non-alcoholic beers are a great place to start for a couple reasons. First, they are one of the most easily-accessible options out there and have the best distribution in grocery stores. I don't think I've ever gone into a Fred Meyer or QFC and not found 3-4 decent options, whereas a great bottle of alcohol-free wine or spirit often has to be purchased at a specialty store like Total Wine & More or The Zero Proof. Secondly, in my opinion, non-alcoholic beers are the closest to the real deal when compared to their alcoholic counterpart. They're easier to craft and the carbonation helps hide some of the flavor and body that tends to lack, which is the same reason why I often prefer sparkling non-alcoholic wine to still.

Today we're sampling three non-alcoholic IPAs to see if they can stand up to the real deal. Before we do so, let me just say that I am by no means a beer "expert," nor am I going to dive into the various styles (West Coast, Hazy, etc.), brewing techniques, history of Indian Pale Ale, and so forth. I'm just looking for something tasty that has the one thing you can always expect when it comes to an IPA: bold hop flavor with a good body. IPAs are known for a bitter quality due to the higher than average amount of hops they contain, but there's much more to them. Fruit and citrus notes abound in these beverages, and depending on what option you choose, you might find flavors of grapefruit, orange, and even earthier notes like pine. Generally speaking, a high IBU will have a more bitter taste than a lower IBU beer, so I've included that in each selection below to help guide you in finding whatever style of n/a beer you like best.

Sober Carpenter IPA

Sober Carpenter is a Canadian craft beverage company, and I found most of their line at BevMo.

  • IBU: 42

  • Pours mellow, straw-colored with a decent white head and carbonation.

  • Aroma is quite good - you can really smell the hops, light citrus and maltiness with a pine undertone.

  • Flavor is a mouthful of hops. A bit earthy, musty, and piney with subtle citrus.

  • Finish is dry and crisp, but left a bit of an odd lingering taste.

  • Overall not bad, but the I found the resinous piney flavor a bit too much for my personal taste.

Athletic Brewing Run Wild IPA

You can't talk about non-alcoholic beer without talking about Athletic Brewing. This award-winning brewery is considered one of the best in the alcohol-free category. They're based out of Connecticut, but also have a large brewing facility in San Diego. Translation: with breweries on both coasts, they are one of the most widely-distributed breweries, and you can often find their products more easily than others.

  • IBU: 35

  • Pours copper in color with moderate carbonation and a little shy of a finger white head.

  • Aroma is citrusy and not overly pungent for an IPA - there's a little maltiness but is fairly balanced.

  • Flavor follows the nose with a nice maltiness up front and a hint of honey. The hops don't punch you in the face quite as much as a strong IPA (they categorize it as a sessionable IPA). Slightly floral with a hint of citrus. It's extremely balanced.

  • Finishes crisp and dry with a bit of minerality.

  • Overall, this is one of the best non-alcoholic beers I've tried and you might be able to trick a lot of people into thinking this has alcohol in it. You may miss a little of the hop punch of a traditional IPA, but I really enjoyed this beer.

Lagunitas IPNA

Lagunitas is a great Californian brewery that launched their non-alcoholic IPNA in 2020. They also offer a citrusy hop water that's very refreshing.

  • IBU: 28

  • Pours light amber color, with a small white fizzy head that disappeared almost immediately.

  • Aroma is herbal, almost like a black tea, with a hint of citrus.

  • Taste is very citrusy and floral with a mild hoppiness. It's very light bodied.

  • Finish is crisp and dry with a slight metallic, lingering aftertaste.

  • Overall this beer is pretty refreshing, and I didn't dislike it... but it doesn’t hit the mark of a traditional IPA in terms of body, complexity and hoppiness.

If I was going to purchase just one it would be the Run Wild IPA by Athletic Brewing, no question. Leave me a comment with some of your favorite n/a beers, I'd love to hear from you. Cheers!


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