Beer… For Range Days?!

This time we’re departing from the gun world into a topic that does not directly relate, but one near and dear to many of our hearts.

Beer and social gatherings go together like ham and cheese, peanut butter and chocolate… you get the drift. But alcohol and guns? A world of NO. Which is a shame in some ways; there are few common experiences more satisfying than an ice-cold IPA or Lager on a blistering summer afternoon. But when the guns are out the beer isn’t. Period.

Sure, there are non/low alcohol beers (traditionally know n as ‘small beers) like Sharp’s and O’Douls, but they are barely palatable. Caliber from Guinness is better but it’s still not great, and since they’ve ‘improved’ the flavor I’ve pretty much stopped bothering. Until recently you were pretty much out of luck finding a genuinely good beer with 0.5% alocohol or less. Now, however, craft brewing has come to NA beers, and I am one happy camper.

Traditionally the way that Near beer has been made has been to make beer and boil off the alcohol. This massacres the complex flavors and and subtle tones that beer-lovers treasure. Guinness discovered that they could circumvent this by reducing the pressure, and thus the boiling temperature, so that these subtleties were not entirely lost. Craft brewers have taken to employing this method (with varying degrees of success) and produced some pretty decent brews. Others have utilized strains of yeast that produce very little alcohol, and by not distilling the beer it retains the full range and character of a true beer.

At Christmas one of my kids brought over a selection of NA craft brews. I learned to drink beer in Europe, and loved a good stout. I liked a Bud or Miller OK, but my true love was European beers. Unfortunately the craft brew revolution occurred after I quit drinking. He’d been listening to me lament this fact for years, and took it upon himself to find a solution, and I’ll be damned if he didn’t. Let me share what we discovered, then and since.

Bravus Brewing Amber Ale

Bright yet full-bodied, roasty maltiness with a hint of sour and brown-sugar sweetness. It has a distinctive, pleasant aroma that is characteristic of Bravus, possibly a result of the strain of yeast they use. A friend who is quite the beerficianado, pronounced that he would drink it in preference to many of the craft-brew ambers he likes.

Bravus Brewing Oatmeal Stout

A very satisfying stout, bursting with chocolate and hints of coffee and smoke, with a smooth, carmelly mouth feel. This is a damn good stout, and never mind the lack of alcohol.

Surreal Brewing 17 Mile Porter

This is a strong, tasty Porter. Up front is chocolate and roasted malt, with smoke and a hint of coffee in the background. Pleasantly light carbonation completes the experience. A little watery in the finish, but I really, really like this one.

Partake IPA

This is the least of the beers I am reviewing, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. It has some hoppy bitterness to it, but lacks the maltiness you expect in an IPA. It’s also rather watery. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good, and having only ten calories to a can it has an argument in it’s favor. Overall I’d say it’s very drinkable, but only about 90% of where it would ideally be. Still, if presented with an ice-cold can on a hot summer day I’d be happy enough.

Conclusion

People’s tastes vary, and I can only recommend based on what I like. But if you like beer these are worth trying. One peculiarity I have discovered with the stout and porter; these beers are usually served at room temperature, but these NA brews really shine when cold. Another thing to note- these beers are all pretty low calorie, usually 50-100 calories; that’s less than a can of soda.

Guns and alcohol absolutely do not mix… but maybe guns and beer can now. I’m looking to exploring this world more, and of you folks are interested I’ll report my findings.

ADDENDA: From the response I have received on social media I did not make myself clear. This applies to the social events surrounding a range day; you should not drink anything while actually on the range, unless your favorite drink recipe includes particulate lead. This would be for times when you might legitimately be drinking soft drinks or hot beverages.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 24 Feburay 2020

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