A few months ago I was listening to Episode 63 of the Brew Files (about Athletic Brewing) wondering to myself why anyone would bother drinking non-alcoholic beer. But here I am.
Yesterday, I ordered some of Athletic Brewing's N/A Golden Ale which will hopefully arrive in a few days, but I noticed this dry-hopped Clausthaler at Trader Joe's and decided to give it a shot.
There isn't a whole lot of info on the packaging other than the fact that it is N/A, unfiltered, and dry hopped with Cascade. According to the website, it is brewed to have under 0.5% ABV rather than having the alcohol removed by either filtration or vacuum boiling. Knowing almost nothing about N/A beer, it's unclear to me exactly how it's produced. It does have 90 calories though, which surprised me. Maybe I will degass a sample and test the FG.
Anway, it pours slightly cloudy but with a nice head and is a deep amber in color. The malt flavor is strong and a bit sweet. I would say it's too sweet for a real amber ale, but it works well in a N/A beer and gives it a good depth of flavor. The sweetness fades and is overtaken fairly quickly by the hops. I perceived it as being quite bitter, and it has a pretty dry finish. Somehow, it manages to have both a satisfying malt sweetness and an enjoyable hop bitterness (and I say that as someone who typically does not care for malty beers).
Surprisingly, I found myself wanting to open a second bottle. I don't know if that's just force of old habit or what, but it left me wanting more. I'm actually looking forward to having one after dinner tonight.
There is a bit of an odd flavor to it, which I assume is due to it being non-alcoholic. If someone just handed me one without telling me what it was, I think I'd pick up on that flavor, but I don't think I would know it was N/A. Not bad...