Happy 2023! Many folks we know are practicing dry January this year (including this particular writer), and we wanted to start the year off by reviewing some interesting non-alcoholic beers. The first is a bit of a winter denial beer: a Mexican style “Lager” by Big Drop Brewing – Coba Maya.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t have high hopes for non-alcoholic beer headed into dry January. NA beers seemed less interesting to me compared to the myriad of other non-alcoholic beverages available. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how the industry is showing up strong.
This beer could certainly fool me. It’s light, refreshing, tremendously drinkable, and looks the part. Its carbonation helps with this a good deal, I imagine. NA beers have typically lacked the mouthfeel of their boozy brothers, but getting the carbonation right (maybe even a little over-carbed) helps mimic the experience.
It also tastes about right. To me, this tastes a lot like what one of the most popular beers in Lisbon tastes like. I imagine that has to do with the extremely light pilsner style that Sagres produces – an NA beer would benefit from taking on the lighter side and the darker side, but I imagine getting the malt builds right for things like APAs or IPAs would be more challenging. Those are meant to have maltier backbones, and varying degrees of hop bitterness. But to test, we’ll be sampling Big Drop’s IPA line when we can find it.
Back to Coba – I really enjoy this beer. The flavors are extremely delicate and makes me want to sit on a beach somewhere, listening to waves crash a few meters away while I read a book. Ideally, this beach would come with a little flag I could plant in the ground to let the bartender know I’m ready for another one. It’d be guilt-free (not that I have much shame) since it would be insanely difficult to get drunk off of this beer.
Notice I didn’t say “technically impossible” – though practically it would be. Coba Maya is touted as non-alcoholic, but like many good NA beers, there is a small amount within it from the brewing process. For Coba, it’s no more than 0.5% abv. Quick maths here: It would take 10 of these to equal the amount of alcohol in a singular typical beer.
Overall, even if you’re not doing dry January, this beer may be worth your time to try. Maybe you have something important happening tomorrow and don’t want to risk the hangover. Maybe you want to give that liver a break. Whatever your reason for wanting to avoid alcohol for a night, this NA beer might help you feel like you still are.
P.S.: Well, dear readers, we know it has been a long time since we last shared an article with you. Like, a long time. We’ve still been brewing (and hell, drinking) since our last communication, but both Nick and I are ready to get back at brewing more often and sharing our findings with you.
We’re here for all things beverage industry and homebrew hobby from here on in!