2020 will be a year to remember in the non-alcoholic beer community. There were many new beer releases, newcomers to the NA beer game, and a major rise in NA beer popularity in the US both on the brewer and the consumer side.
2020 is also the year BWAB was introduced to the world, so to any and all of you out there who have read, shared, reached out, and showed your support so far -- THANK YOU. We are just getting started.
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If you look anywhere online you'll find many top-10 end of year lists or best rankings by beer types that are subjective but (hopefully) interesting. So instead of reinventing the wheel, I'm going to simply share 5 beers that we think are totally awesome.
No particular order. No dramatic hierarchy. Just 6 delicious beers from the year that I think you should try in 2021.
Side note: if you want to read about beer rankings and such subscribe to the BWAB newsletter or give us a follow on Twitter
If I've learned anything about NA beer this year it is this:
Taste is subjective -- I love some beers that other hate and vis versa. The fact that we have options and differing opinions is a privilege.
Brand experience matters -- pour a couple different IPAs into a glass and take away the psychological aspect of seeing a can I like or reading a marketing message and things start to change.
There are good and bad batches - in a good way, NA beer is still an imperfect art. Sometimes you'll have a "bad batch". It's best not to judge the entire brewery, style, or craft off of the single experience.
NA beer drinkers are good people - regardless of the reason for drinking beer without alcohol in it, the people in this community tend to be kind, positive, inclusive, and supportive. I like people with those qualities.
NA beer is about to get HUGE - if you don't realize it yet, there are about to be many many more NA beers hitting the market in 2021 and beyond. I wouldn't be surprised if the space increases by 5x over the next couple years.
Needless to say...
Non-alcoholic beer is here to stay
Friends, we are in for a fun journey. The hope of NA beers being available at every bar/pub/restaurant and being able to find an alcohol-free equivalent of every one of your favorite full-strength beers is closer than we think.
Keep supporting your NA breweries. Keep asking your local establishments to stock NA. Keep sharing your favorite NA beers with your friends. Keep sharing great NA beer articles :)
However you support, just know that it is making a difference.
6 awesome NA beers we drank in 2020
Now on to the beers. Here are, again in no particular order, 5 awesome non-alcoholic beers we drank in 2020.
If you are looking to build your own NA six-pack for Dry January 2021, I suggest you start here.
CERIA Brewing Grainwave - Non-alcoholic Belgian White
From the brewmaster who created Blue Moon, CERIA's Grainwave is an easy-drinking, citrusy, approachable ale. It's been my favorite beer to share with people who have never tried an NA beer before but have tried Blue Moon (and who hasn't had a Blue Moon before?!)
Easiest way to buy: Amazon (free shipping!)
Athletic Brewing - Reeds Red IPA
Nowadays on 'the internet', Athletic Brewing is pretty much known as the GOAT of US non-alcoholic breweries. They seem to be how many people got into NA beer in the first place and they have a strong brand, intense customer loyalty, and simply great beers. In a lot of ways it is hard to compete with ABC.
My favorite of 2020 was Reeds Red IPA, but it might be a little tricky to get your hands on because Athletic does a lot of limited releases and the afore mentioned mega-fans usually snag their favorites quickly. A very close second to me is their Run Wild IPA, which has won numerous awards and is likely their top-seller by far.
Easiest way to buy: Online
Bravus Brewing - IPA
But Bravus also makes great beer in other styles. I like their Rasberry Gose in the summer (it's like a seltzer and a kombucha and a beer all had a delicious NA baby) but the best of the year for me was the IPA. It drinks more like a pale ale to me and is a little less hop-obsessed than some of the other IPAs I love.
Easiest way to buy: Online (PS you can use promo code BEERWITHOUTABUZZ for 10% off)
Lagunitas - IPNA
This beer is a good example of my 5 learnings about NA beer above. Tastes are subjective and you should try it for yourself. I saw post after post of people hating on this beer, but when I finally got around to trying it guess what? I found it absolutely delightful. Light and refreshing, highly carbonated, not overly hoppy, and tastes like a Lagunitas IPA.
Easiest way to buy: Total Wine (or other local liquor store)
AL's - Classic
AL's was a newcomer to the NA beer world in 2020 and is still a bit of an undiscovered gem. Beautiful brand and design, simplicity in flavor profile, and nailing a classic beer style that most craft NA brewers have steered clear of, AL's Classic is accomplishing its goal as being the NA American classic pilsner.
Easiest way to buy: Online
Brewdog - Punk AF
The only non-US based brewery on the list this year AND the only brewery to also make full-strength beers. Brewdog has been a pioneer of making great tasting NA beers cool. Their taprooms have it on draught, as well as a few other NA (or as they say, AF) options.
Punk AF is a juicy, hoppy, well-rounded NA IPA that is full of flavor. If you are familiar with the alcoholic counterpart Punk IPA, then you will like this one.
Easiest way to buy: At the bar or Online
Ethos Brewing - Alturas NA Golden
Fine you caught me, this is #7 but I had to include it. Another newcomer in 2020 and one of my favorite NA beers I have ever had the pleasure of drinking. Read the full review here.
Easiest way to buy: Online
Since we are already cheating, here's a beer I didn't get a chance to try but heard amazing things about:
Athletic Brewing Company - Chocolate Cherry Stout
Dessert in a can anyone?
Dry January 2021 Shopping List
TL;DR? Here is your shopping list:
Now go out there and have a great year!
Please consider sharing beer without a buzz with your friends and family. For more on this and other points of interest in the NA beer community, follow @beerwithoutbuzz on twitter and join the conversation.
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