One thing about working from home is that I’ve found my beverage options can get old real fast. Since my day job is a “split shift” (Noon-8:30), my lunch half-hour is most people’s happy hour. And I’ve run out the string on pots of coffee or instant lattes.
I could hit something light and familiar like a Guinness, which still has fewer calories than a sugared up soda. Especially since I’ve managed to actually lose a few pounds over the past year. But “day-drinking” can be a slippery slope.
So I mean to give some more non-alcoholic beers a try. The fact that I do try and discuss NA brews on my YouTube channel means I’ve been offered samples from the makers of these barley pops.
The latest to cross my palate is from Ceria Brewing Co., based in Arvada, CO. Ceria was co-founded by Dr. Keith Villa, with his wife Jodi as CEO. Villa was the brewmaster at the Sandlot Brewery at Coors Field when he developed Bellyslide Belgian White, a wit-style beer now known as Blue Moon. Ceria was started to research ways to create non-alcohol beers that preserved the health benefits of various compounds found in beer like polyphenols and the terpenes in hop oil. Like most NA beers, these are brewed to style, and then “dealcoholozed” using the brewer’s process. The beer is contract-brewed by O’Fallon Brewing in Maryland Heights, MO (suburban St. Louis).
First up is Indiewave, a pale ale style, with Cascade, Citra and Amarillo hops. The labels says it has 99 calories in a 12 oz. can. Various sources on its bitterness range between 40 and 45 IBUs.
The can pours a slightly hazy amber color under a thick head. In other words, it’s looks very much like a beer. The smell has a nice bite of West Coast IPA hops, but I do notice the slight metallic “tang” that sometimes comes with low- or no-alcohol brews.
The taste has some definite hoppiness to match the nose. There’s very little sweetness, which I’ll count as a positive, considering that some NA beers end up tasting like lipstick. But it can tend to be a bit too dry. There’s a citrus note that finally comes in at the end of the pour. It still won’t make you think it’s a beer, but it is a good rehydrator.
Grainwave is billed as having Belgian-style malts, and is made with orange peel and coriander. Sounds like the NA version of a Blue Moon, perhaps. But with 77 calories.
The orange is very much there in the nose, almost at a perfume level. As with the Indiewave, malts stay in the back ground.
The taste kind of goes its own way. In fact, it kind of does remind me of a Blue Moon, with orange juice squeezed into it.
I do get some more malt in the taste, but there’s plenty of orange and a slight balance of coriander. The citrus note gets more noticeable as I go further down.
It is a nice beverage with no flaws on its own. Makes me think of a briefly available non-alcoholic “malt soda,” the name of which absolutely fails me. It was trialed briefly in the 90s by a suburban distributor. But my hazy recollection was that it was like a Mountain Dew. This has less sugar than a Mountain Dew, though, and none of that vegetable oil to hold the color. In fact, that’s probably the main draw of a non-alcoholic beer, is that it looks like a beer. So you can “blend in.”
Ceria beers are currently not distributed in the Chicago market. But it can be found in some Wisconsin stores. And as a non-alcoholic beverage, it can be ordered through Amazon or other online sellers.