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The Big Dogs Enter the Market

When we released our non-alcoholic brown ale last October, we were the first Seattle brewery to put out a non-alcoholic beer (we might have been one of the first to make hop water too). I always wondered why the larger Seattle breweries hadn’t yet entered the market and I figured it was only a matter of time. Non-alcoholic beer has been the fastest growing segment within craft beer the last couple years, and the opportunity to further diversify a brewery’s offerings made it a no-brainer in my mind. Well at the end of January it finally happened.


The second largest brewery in Seattle (and Washington), Fremont Brewing, released a non-alcoholic IPA on January 31st. I of course was anxious to give it a try and was able to track some down a few weeks later. According to their website it is brewed with 2-Row Pale and Carapils malt with Citra and Citra Cryo hops. There is no mention about their process for producing it (see my previous blogs about the lack of knowledge sharing in the non-alcoholic world). With a little sleuthing I was able to find out more though.


A quick look at the can once I got it home revealed the fact that the beer is not actually brewed by Fremont, it is contract brewed at Octopi Brewing in Waunakee, Wisconsin. Octopi is also known to brew beers for Untitled Art and on the Untitled Art website they do actually share that they use membrane filtration to remove the alcohol post fermentation. This leads me to a pretty good guess that Fremont is also using membrane filtration technology to remove the alcohol from their IPA.


To be clear, I have zero qualms with Fremont using a contract brewer to produce their NA line. The membrane filtration technology is very expensive and contract brewing is a simpler and cheaper way to enter the market and test the waters. If you recall from my earlier blog posts this is the original path I wanted to go. And I do commend Fremont for clearly stating on the package where and by who the beer was brewed.


As far as my impressions of the beer, as soon as you pop the top you get great hop aromas of citrus, tropical fruit, and melon. On the palate you get a lot of hop flavor as well with just a touch of bitterness. The Fremont website lists the IBUs as 85, but it tastes closer to 35 to me. This is a great example of calculated bitterness being very different than perceived bitterness, and it is the exact reason why I never list IBUs for any of my beers. It has some good lingering hop flavor and just a little bit of malt in the background lending some grainy, crackery notes. Overall it is a solid NA beer and I’d recommend it if you’re looking for an IPA. Congrats to Fremont on getting an NA beer out!


Back to My NA Adventures

If you don’t recall from my last blog post (which it has been a while so do feel bad), on my 10th trial I finally hit on something that I was happy enough with to release. Since then I’ve been making small tweaks to the recipe each batch looking to continually improve the product. Most have my tweaks have been to the malt bill in the hopes of generating more complexity and increased body. This included varying the ratio of Carapils and Carapils Copper, and adjusting the types and quantities of crystal malt.


Here’s the complete recipe for what I consider to be the best batch so far:

2 lb. 8 oz Carapils Malt

3 lb. Carapils Copper Malt

12 oz Flaked Wheat

12 oz Crystal 120

12 oz Crystal 65

12 oz Crystal 45

8 oz Chocolate Malt

1 oz East Kent Golding Hops @ 15 min

1 oz East Kent Golding Hops @ 0 min


Cold mash specialty malts at 38 F overnight, drain cold mash, top to 4.5 gallons and bring to 175 F. Mash in Carapils, Carapils Copper, and wheat and hold for 45 minutes. Sparge and top up to 7 gal. and then bring to a boil and proceed as normal.


On To Something New

While I will continue to make small tweaks to my brown ale recipe, I also want to start pursuing a couple other styles and with St. Patrick’s Day coming up I decided to try a dry stout. Taking my brown ale recipe as a starting point I reduced the amount of crystal malt, increased the amount of chocolate malt, and added in a good amount of Blackprinz malt. Blackprinz is a specialty roasted malt from Briess that has the husk removed. This produces a malt that contributes black color and roasty, coffee notes without being overly bitter or harsh. A dry stout would typically be brewed with roasted barley but I was concerned that this would be too harsh in such a light beer.


Here’s the complete recipe for my first batch of stout:

2 lb. 8 oz Carapils Malt

2 lb. 8 oz Carapils Copper Malt

1 lb. Flaked Wheat

12 oz Crystal 65

12 oz Crystal 45

12 oz Chocolate Malt

12 oz Blackprinz Malt

2 oz East Kent Golding Hops @ 15 min


Cold mash specialty malts at 38 F overnight, drain cold mash, top to 4.5 gallons and bring to 175 F. Mash in Carapils, Carapils Copper, and wheat and hold for 45 minutes. Sparge and top up to 7 gal. and then bring to a boil and proceed as normal.


Stop by the taproom soon and see how the new stout turned out!


What’s Next

My plan for future trials involves a few different objectives:

  1. Develop new styles – In addition to the new stout, I’d also like to develop something lighter and a bit hoppier for the summer.

  2. Experiment with new yeasts – I’ll be doing some split batches to test new yeasts. I’d love to find a Belgian strain that I could utilize. Non-alcoholic Patersbier anyone?

  3. Experiment with other techniques – I have a few more techniques that I would like to test to see if I can get low efficiency and attenuation using standard base malts. Some things I plan to test are course milling of the malt, utilizing flaked grains, and utilizing under-modified malts.

If you live in the Seattle area, I hope you come down to the taproom to try the NA Brown and Stout, and please leave me some feedback. Also keep following this blog as I continue my quest to create a range of great tasting NA beers!

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1 Comment


Phillip Taud
Phillip Taud
Apr 09, 2023

Enjoying the blog on the NA beers! Thanks a lot.

what mash efficiency / attenuation are you getting with the split mash process? Is there a big difference in comparison to simply mashing at 175F?


Did you see the fermentis presentaton that talks about mashing above 180F (82C) for even lower final attenuation? S-33 is the same yeast strain as the Windsor.


regards!

phillip

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