A local NA brew for Dry January
People’s releases an non-alcoholic pale ale, as trend hits local craft brewing scene. Plus, a few recommendations for the second half of Dry January.
Thanks to RailSplitters Authentics for sponsoring today’s edition. RailSplitters Authentics will be hosting the inaugural Tippecanoe Sports Collectibles Show on Saturday, Jan. 21, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Tippecanoe County Fairgrounds – featuring Purdue and all sports memorabilia and cards for sale, autograph guests and appraisals. Admission is $5 (12 and under free).
Here heading into the second half of Dry January – happy holiday month, to those who celebrate – a Lafayette brewer comes with its first NA pale ale.
Since the release earlier in January, Chris Johnson, owner of People’s Brewing Co., said the first non-alcoholic test batch – a so-far unnamed American pale ale that clocks in at 40 IBUs and 0.5% alcohol by volume, and strategically timed for a month given to attempts to set aside beer and alcohol for 31 days – has been selling better than the brewer thought it might.
“We’ve seen the trends, and we’ve had customers come up and ask, ‘Hey, are you ever going to try an NA beer?’” Johnson said. “In my 22 years of brewing, I’ve never done anything like this. So, I can say, we learned some things. … One thing is that people like it – or at least want to try it.”
Among the initial reviews was one from Rob Theodorow, owner of the Generation NA, touted as Indiana’s first bottle shop dedicated to non-alcoholic brews, wines and spirits that opened in downtown Lafayette in May 2022 and moved to its new location at 504 Main St. in September. Last week, he tapped the initial local test batch at his shop after making a trip to People’s tap room, 2006 N. Ninth St.
“From someone that hasn’t had draft beer in two years it was amazing,” Theodorow said. “It scratched every itch imaginable, including feeling great ordering something off the drink menu other than water.”
Dry January, which started to pick up steam in the past decade, coincides with growth in the non-alcoholic brew, wine and spirit market. NielsonIQ, a firm that tracks consumer trends, reported that between August 2021 and August 2022, growth in that part of the beverage industry was up 20.6% and accounted for $395 million in sales. The company said that NA-labeled drinks – accounting for 0.5% or less of alcohol by volume – had gone from 0.22% of total alcohol sales in the U.S. in 2018 to 0.47% in 2022.
“It’s still a small percentage, everyone gets that,” Theodorow said. “But it’s growing. And it’s getting better with every new shipment we get, I’ve got to tell you. And when you get someone like Chris and People’s jumping in, you know something’s going on.”
Johnson said it wasn’t as if half the taps at People’s would be devoted to NA brews, by any stretch. But he said other brewers in town have asked him about the process he used to make something that came in under 0.5% ABV and still was good enough to put the People’s name on. Johnson said he has ideas about how to tweak the next batch.
“It’s something I could see having on tap in some form,” Johnson said. “We’d encourage people to come down and try and tell us what they think.”
As for other Dry January offerings, here are a few recommendations from two Lafayette shops.
Generation NA, 504 Main St.
Theodorow said he’s been guiding people through taste tests and recommendations for people who have totally gone the NA route or those being more mindful and maybe taking things from 10 drinks a week to five and replacing those with a non-alcoholic option. “A damp January approach,” Theodorow said. Among his recommendations …
Chai Apple Mule, featuring Ritual Rum Alternative with Simple Times Chai Apple Mule Mixer – “It’s just a really nice combination,” Theodorow said. “And our best seller in December.”
Margarita, featuring Cut Above Mezcal Tequila with Simple Times Margarita Mixer – “It’s not going to have quite the same bite you’d get with other tequilas,” he said. “But in terms of mixing it with a good mixer, I think you’d be hard pressed to tell the difference. A lot of these spirits are good by themselves, neat or on the rocks, but they’re really good paired and mixed in a mocktail.”
Hand on Heart Cabernet and Giesen Sauvignon Blanc – “Our two best sellers,” Theodorow said. “I took them to Wines on the Wabash, and I was there with about 30 wineries with over 100 different wine selection. I was the only one with de-alcoholized wine that was there. Most people – not all people, but most people – loved it and couldn't really tell a noticeable difference.”
Untitled Art Hazy Double IPA – “My favorite NA out there, and probably the top rated NA out there right now,” he said. “Delicious.”
Mash Gang, assorted brews – “Cap’n Krunk brings them in with the can art alone,” Theodorow said about the Mash Gang cereal milk pale ale.
Rose Market, 816 Main St.
Tracy Deno, owner of Rose Market, said the shop has scaled back on spirits, “because we're mainly wine and beer drinkers, so we know how those should taste.” Here are four of her recommendations.
Waterbrook Clean Cabernet Sauvignon, less than 0.5% ABV: “Waterbrook Winery is located in Washington state and has several varieties of traditional wines, so they know how to make real wine. So many de-alcoholized drinks are loaded with sugar, so in our mind switching alcohol for sugar is a zero-sum game. Waterbrook Cab has 4 grams total carbs per 8-ounce glass, with only 2 grams of added sugar, so it is relatively low in sugar. We do recommend opening the bottle and letting the wine breath for several hours, which helps develop the flavors a bit more.” Price: $19
Joyous Sparkling Rosé, less than 0.5% ABV: “This wine has won industry awards in blind tastings, so you know it must taste like real wine, and that's exactly why we like this one. It's citrusy and light, so it's perfect when you're celebrating because it has that festive, sparkling flavor.” Price: $26.99
Goodvines Riesling, 0% ABV: “Goodvines is a German brand, and it's another good one if you're concerned about additives in your wine. It is relatively low in sugar at 4.3g per 100 ml with no artificial sweeteners. This Riesling is fruity and tart, and has a bit of carbonation to balance out the sweetness of the Riesling grapes. This is another great option for celebrations and has a nice price point at $15.99.”
Athletic Brewing Co Upside Dawn, less than 0.5% ABV: “We are big fans of this company and what they've created. Every one we've tried tastes like the real thing, and that's important to us, because these drinks are not cheaper just because the alcohol is removed. Upside Dawn is refreshing and light-bodied with a clean finish and is just enjoyable to drink. Their beers are crafted to remove the gluten, but cannot be certified gluten-free due to the grains containing gluten, but they did win an award from the World Beer Awards for Best Gluten Reduced Beer in 2021.”
JUST ONE LESSON FROM AN MLK DAY CELEBRATION
Interesting moment Monday morning, during Tippecanoe County Public Library’s annual celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. on the national holiday in honor of the civil rights leader:
Opening an event that surrounded themes about making connections in the community and turning those into everyday opportunities to further the sort of social justice and reform King talked about, library director Jos Holman started to thank nearly a dozen local elected officials scattered among a crowd of about 80 people.
Then Holman paused.
“You may say, ‘Why do we always call out the elected officials?’” Holman said.
Go to enough formal community events and you’re sure to hear acknowledged the assortment of mayors and commissioners, city council members and state representatives. Holman suggested that, at least on this day, it wasn’t simply an obligation to thank them for their time and attendance.
“Per chance, you don’t know the face of your local official,” Holman said. “Look at them when they stand up or when they are acknowledged today, so you have access to those folks who represent you in a variety of ways.”
The message was tucked into calls to be the sort of participants King called for.
“Do you feel like there’s a change?” Lydia Wells, a longtime Lafayette resident, asked the crowd. “Are you even going to be participating in the change? Or are you just going to sit back and point fingers at the president? Point fingers at our elected officials? Are you going to be bitter or be better? … Don’t let anyone or anything dim your light. Let your light shine.”
Thanks, again, to RailSplitters Authentics for sponsoring today’s edition. For more about the Tippecanoe Sports Collectibles Show on Saturday, Jan. 21, here’s your link.
THANKS FOR SUPPORTING INDEPENDENT, LOCAL REPORTING.