Santa Ana, California
Getting in on a movement early on is one thing. But what about when you’re the ones who can lay claim to being the very first into the market? Bravus, which was founded in 2015, happens to be North America’s first brewery dedicated solely to the production of non-alcoholic craft beer. Since well before the idea of NA beer’s ascent was seen as inevitable, they’ve been perfecting a unique, secretive process that turns traditional production methods on their head.
While they’re pretty tight-lipped overall, they’ll admit a few things: “I can tell you that we don’t vacuum-distill or use reverse osmosis, as that tends to produce an inferior product,” says founder & head brewer Philip Brandes. One such result of this method is their prized oatmeal stout, which picked up the silver medal at this year’s GABF (just ahead of their bronze medal-winning bourbon barrel-aged stout, no less). With flavors of cocoa, coffee, chocolate, and just a subtle hint of smoke over a smooth medium body, it’s just the kind of comforting sipper you’ll want to reach for after a winter jog.
As one of the great originators of the craft beer movement in the United States, it’s hard to see Brooklyn Brewery passing up the opportunity to use their impressive brewing prowess to expand their already extensive offerings. Special Effects, their first non-alcoholic beer, does just that by using a specially developed fermentation method that limits the amount of alcohol created while still allowing more traditional beer flavors to develop. Here, you can expect bright, zesty aromas thanks to the dry-hopping that takes place, with a clean citrusy palate that balances subtly sweet malts. The best part? Even though the beer has only seen limited distribution throughout Europe and out of their main taproom in Brooklyn, the beer will roll out with nationwide availability as of January 2020.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
After being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, Ted Fleming was left with a choice: Stop drinking beer, or take matters into his own hands. After opting for the latter, he founded Partake Brewing in 2017 with the aim to provide quality non-alcoholic beverages for people who love the taste of craft beer and were unsatisfied with the state of the market. Today, his lineup has made its way across Canada and the United States (with American production facilities opening soon), making it relatively easy to get your hands on any of his takes on traditional styles. The pale ale is a standout choice in their group of offerings, with bright aromatics and soft fruity notes, making it a solid, easy day sipper.
Operated by a husband and wife team, Surreal Brewing was born on the heels of a diagnosis and successful treatment of breast cancer. When the only non-alcoholic beers available to celebrate with were deemed subpar at best, founders Tammer Zein-El-Abedein and Donna Hockey decided to develop their own homebrewing recipes in an attempt to solve their problem. The resulting beers have helped turn their operation into a multiple-award-winning outfit not even two years out of the gate, with offerings like Juicy Mavs offering a rare alcohol-free take on the oh-so-popular hazy IPA. The bright tropical and citrus aromas here carry over to the palate, with mango and passionfruit coming through before a soft hoppy finish that lingers long between sips. It’s a great hiking accompaniment, beach beer, or pairing with a cheeseburger.