There could be a multitude of reasons why you might have to cut back or give up on alcohol completely. Maybe you are the designated driver for the night, but you still want to sip on something that won’t impair your driving ability. Perhaps you have to stop due to medical reasons. No matter the reason, the Non-Alcoholic beer market has evolved, and you can actually find some really good NA beers. Long gone are the days of trying to drink something that tastes like rainwater that has been poured through a rusty pipe, thank goodness!
Something to talk about
Williamsburg, VA-based Precarious Beer Project has a team meeting at the beginning of every year to recap the previous year and to set new goals and intentions for the upcoming year. This past January, the team expressed an interest in trying their hand at brewing a non-alcoholic beer. Julie Tridente, Director of Brewing Operations for Precarious Beer Project, stated that “We set up to brew a non-alcoholic beer, with very low expectations.” “We gave it a try and to our surprise, it wasn’t too bad at all,” said Julie. Even though the beer came in a little higher than expected (.57%), it got the team excited about the possibility of making the beer a mainstay.
“As months went by, we decided that if we’re going to continue to do this, our non-alcoholic beers deserved their own line,” said Julie. Non-alcoholic beers are regulated differently than traditional beer. It can be sold anywhere soda, water, tea, coffee or other non-alcoholic beverages are sold. “It really opens up a lot of different avenues to market that are otherwise limited to alcoholic products,” said Julie.
It just made sense for Precarious to differentiate the product lines. In tossing around names, the team thought it would be funny to call it ENAY, essentially just the phonetic spelling of NA. “From there we just hit the ground running and haven’t looked back,” said Julie. As a team, they have spent time evaluating their personal goals, health and wellness and it just seemed like a natural fit that the team was eager to do. “Our vision for ENAY is to provide a quality product for people to enjoy whenever, wherever and however they want to,” stated Julie.
The product of their hard work and research is Day Ripper, a wonderfully crafted non-alcoholic Pilsner, or as ENAY calls it, Pilsnear. They’re very clever with their marketing and play on words with this one.
For Day Ripper, traditional malt is used, but just a lot less of it. “Our Pilsnear doesn’t require much else, the key ingredient though is the yeast strain,” said Julie. There are commercially available yeast strains that do not ferment maltose, which results in very low attenuation and therefore minimal alcohol. “We don’t have any equipment to remove the alcohol, so this is the method we’ve utilized, essentially arrested fermentation,” said Julie.
There have been a lot of strides made with this technique due to the yeast strains coming onto the market that are being dialed in to remove the undesirable and worty flavors that usually come with beer that isn’t fully attenuated. “It’s a gamechanger for non-alcoholic beer,” said Julie. “We purchased some in-house equipment to test the ABV so that we know exactly where we’re at and can be confident that we’re within the allowable range,” stated Julie. They also send samples out to other labs for assurance and have more often than not been at the 0.0% and nowhere near the .5% threshold the category allows. “We’re feeling pretty good about our process,” said Julie.
The end result
Tons of research goes into making a non-alcoholic craft beer, and research continues to be poured into it. See what we did there ENAY? We can play on words too!
“We learn something new every time we brew a batch,” said Julie. The absence of alcohol leads to a number of other considerations you don’t normally have to think about as much with traditional beer. “Something as simple as crashing it to 32 degrees like you may normally do with other beers could freeze it,” said Julie.
The culmination of their many hours of research, coupled with many more hours of hard work have produced a great tasting non-alcoholic beer. It’s very light and crisp! The flavor profile of a traditional Pilsner is there, maybe a little muted, but you still know exactly what you are drinking. It’s quite remarkable what ENAY has been able to do with Day Ripper. The flavor profile went above and beyond what we were thinking the beer would taste like.
ENAY is hopeful this beer appeals to the everyday person. Julie says she knows that state is very broad, but that’s what they are going for. The goal is to provide an alternative that still allows you to enjoy the moment or occasion.