I am glad to see that the Non-Alcoholic beer realm continue to grow. The more that come in, the better your beer has to be or your branding has to be. I have reviewed many N/A beers (and I will review Rick’s Near Beer as well) but first let’s hear from Josh Hare about this new near to beer pilsner.
1. What do you think has been missing from non-alcoholic beers that Rick’s provides?
Among the current offerings of non-alcoholic beer on shelves, the vast majority of them just taste like a malty drink with some of the flavors you could associate with beer. Very few of them taste like actual beer. We’re incredibly proud that our product tastes like a beer because it is an actual beer and we think our customers will recognize that immediately. Our product begins just like any other beer, brewed with high-quality malted barley, hops, brewers yeast, and Rocky Mountain water. It goes through a standard fermentation cycle, and then the alcohol is gently removed to maintain the flavor and structural integrity of the beer. All of the flavor, mouthfeel, and refreshment that you expect from a high-quality beer is all there, the only thing missing is the alcohol.
2. What has been the most challenging aspect of brewing near beer vs. the regular method?
The processes and equipment required to produce best-in-class non-alcoholic beer are incredibly expensive and difficult to access. Finding the right partners to access that equipment and produce our beers was a big challenge. The other challenge is shelf stability due to the lack of the antimicrobial nature that alcohol provides. In order to keep our product stable and tasting the best possible, access to top-of-the-line pasteurization was a necessity for us. In my 12 years of brewing beer, I’ve never needed to use any of the equipment required to produce Rick’s Near Beer. It has been a challenge but also a ton of fun and we’re so stoked with how the beers turned out!
3. Is there a Pint & Plow pilsner that is a cousin of sorts to the near beer?
Not exactly. At Pint & Plow our flagship beer, San Y’bon Lager has been our top seller consistently since we opened in 2016. I’ve been brewing lager beer for almost a decade and Rick’s Original is definitely a reflection of that experience and many lessons learned along the way.
4. Are there other N/A beers being made in Texas currently?
The only Texas breweries that I know of making a commercially available non-alcoholic beer are Karbach Brewing in Houston and Community Beer Co. in Dallas.
5. Los Angeles has a store that sells only N/A versions of beer, wine and spirits is that a sign that the market for this is ready to expand?
I think so! I’ve read of a few more stores just like that opening across the country and the trend is very exciting. Every grocery store chain is starting to dedicate more and more of their shelf space to non-alcoholic beer and I think that expanding those options for beer drinkers is a good thing all around. I believe in competition and can’t wait to get Rick’s onto grocery store shelves this coming Spring among the other options out there. I’m confident we’ll be able to stand up against the top NA brands in the country with both the quality of our product as well as the quality of our brand and engagement with our customers.
6. What has the initial reaction been to the beer, did you win over skeptics?
Initial reactions have been incredible! The most consistent comment has been, “this tastes like an actual beer when everything else I’ve tried is kind of bland”. Some of my closest friends even commented “I was preparing myself to try and give the most polite feedback that I could but I was positive that I wasn’t going to like it. You changed my mind!”
The reaction to our brand and design has also been exciting to see. Customers are really enjoying the nostalgia and the clean look and feel of our branding. It feels like something that has been around for decades but also feels fresh and new.