Recently, I was witness to something that reignited my faith in the beer industry. Like many of you, I am part of a couple beer discussion groups on Facebook. Most of these groups are well-monitored so "trolls" and all-round nasty people are either called-out or removed from the group. Not too long ago, a group member braved to show his beverage of choice for the day as a non-alcoholic (NA) beer. "Oh no... Here come the haters and people that are going to shit on this poor guy," I thought. To my surprise and delight, it never happened!
On the day when participating members post their beer of choice for the evening, usually being an IPA of some kind, a rare sour, a big barrel-aged beer, or something else to show off, this user posted a popular German brewery's NA products. The user stated due to medical reasons he could no longer have alcohol and this was the only beer he know about that was NA and tasted good. Amazingly, within minutes the comment section was inundated with suggestions of other NA beer options, NA cocktails, and words of encouragement and cheers to this man. There were some jokes, but all were in good taste and quickly followed by, "But seriously, good for you, buddy!" "Cheers to you!" "Here are some other NA's for you to consider..." or something along those lines.
I was flabbergasted. With so much shit-talking we see around our amazing beer industry, it was great to see a small community of beer lovers, most of which have never met and live in different parts of the country with some international members, show this act of kindness. Even when it's as simple as an encouraging comment, it can mean the world to those that may be risking possible backlash.
Image Credit: Bravus Website, Link Below
Now, depending on your reasoning, be it medical condition, health consciousness, or whatever it may be, there are some flavorsome options available for us here in the Orange County neighborhood. Bravus, with production based in Santa Ana, CA has either a great tasting IPA or an Oatmeal Stout currently available. In development, an American Red (cleverly named "CaliforN/A Red") that I'm sure will be tasty as well. Owner and brewer Philip Brandes worked with other specialists to develop a proprietary technique to fully ferment these beers without producing ethanol thereby negating the need to filter out the alcohol and thereby keeping as much flavor as possible. Bravus recently changed its branding and can be found at various retailers or you can order on-line via their website! It is not uncommon for Philip's office to have dozens packing slips printed out waiting to be filled and shipped. Fingers-crossed Philip will be able to open a Bravus tasting room soon.
Image Credit: H2Ops Website, Link Below
Another locally based operation is H2Ops (Sparkling Hop Water). This a refreshing product that is exactly what you'd expect it to be: Sparkling hop water. H2Ops has zero carbs, zero sugars, zero calories, and of course, zero alcohol. The only ingredients are sparkling water and hops. That's it. Owner and brewer Paul Tecker keeps improving and enhancing his proprietary technique to hop the water and add the minerals so the finish is fresh and snappy and no vegetal characters or harsh bitterness. There is no yeast providing the B2 vitamin Riboflavin, so pay no mind to the green bottles; Lightstuck/skunking cannot happen since the precursor is not present. (Click here for more info on that!) Although it may not be advisable to leave the bottles out in the sun for other flavor factors, skunk will not be one of them. If NA beer doesn't tickle your fancy, then a tasty hop water may be just the ticket. Crisp, slight hop fruit notes, refreshing minerals, and "bubbles" to round out the taste. To locate them, visit their website for a store directory.
I am not a doctor or an addiction specialist. I cannot stress this enough. I can't tell you what you can or cannot drink if you have a specific condition or health factor that prohibits alcohol. Perhaps there's an addiction past to consider, in which case you'd need to consult the proper advisors and advocates to help you with your choices. However, if these are options available for you, rest assured that there are more of us here in the beer industry that will accept you than there are those who will try to put you down. I for one will never put anyone down for drinking NA beer or NA cocktails or other NA beverage options. Additionally, it is encouraging to see some local tasting rooms offering either craft and/or commercial sodas and even some locally roasted and/or brewed coffee. We are all family here. Drink up, my friends, even if it's NA. Remember to be good, do good, and beer is good.