In two short months with a decent idea and quite a bit of studying, Aaron produced a non-alcoholic beer that everyone at the brewery felt was pretty amazing. “We drank a lot of those first samples,” recalls Nate, “a whole
By December, Self Care, their first NA Beer, was released, and just in time for Dry January. The beer sold so well that by February they had a couple more beers on the schedule which would later become sub-brands. “Self Care” now has two flagship releases available year-round, and usually has an additional six rotating, one-off releases available to order at any given time.
Nate readily admitted that the challenge in brewing NA beers is that there's really no playbook. “If we run into an issue brewing our regular beer, we can just “google” it, or make aa quick phone call to one of our many brewer friends. If we run into an issue with the non-alcoholic beer, we’re meeting with our suppliers and having scientific conversation as figure out how to get the desired flavor profiles” he laughs.
Historically, there are two ways that most people are brewing NA beer. Either they will arrest fermentation early on in the process, and then they will pasteurize the product to ensure that the residual sugars will not keep re-fermenting, leading to an alcoholic beer.
“We've always found those that methodology to be way too sweet,” Nate admits. “They just taste like unfermented beer, which wasn’t what we were after.”
A second approach is to just brew beer to the normal strength and then de-alcoholize it by applying pressure and/or heat, which can adversely affect hop flavors. While that process does remove the alcohol, it also tends to remove a lot of the nuanced flavors craft beer is known for.