Athletic Brewing – Free Wave Hazy IPA

Athletic-–-Free-Wave-Hazy-IPA-Mani 5_5

Athletic Brewing – Free Wave Hazy IPA

IPA / Athletic Brewing NA / <0.5%

Our Free Wave Hazy IPA is meant for the open road. Whether you’re cruising the Pacific Coast Highway in a convertible or tracing your way up the coast on your bike, our Free Wave doesn’t cut corners. This mouth watering IPA is loaded with Amarillo, Citra, and Mosaic hops. You’ll want to grab a few for the road!

It’s no secret to any respectable beer drinker that IPAs have dominated the market for years, and that trend continues to lean more and more toward the hazy varieties. Many times I have visited a craft brewery and found that more than half of the brews they offer are different variations of IPAs. To be clear, I am not complaining. Hazys are some of my favorite beers to sip on, whether simply enjoying one with dinner or taking down a few on a patio at the end of a long work week. They’re typically refreshing, flavorful, and full of complex hop goodness.

I can’t explain exactly why this style has seemingly taken over the world of beer, other than the fact that they are enjoyed by many. Apparently, this is enough for one of the preeminent non-alcoholic breweries to branch out and attempt to make a quality NA version. To my eyes, Athletic Brewing is a leader in the non-alcoholic beer industry. Their marketing material appears all over my social media feeds, and their products that I’ve sampled have been some of the best of their kind. So I was looking forward to trying this one out and formulating my Athletic Brewing Free Wave Hazy IPA review.


I unabashedly love the labels that Athletic Brewing puts on their cans, customized to each unique style. The can for Free Wave depicts a bright red sky over a winding, yellow coastal highway, evoking thoughts of a striking sunset over breaking surf. It is no secret who the brewery is targeting with their marketing strategies. Their name is Athletic Brewing, after all.

There are a number of reasons that someone might be seeking out non-alcoholic beer, from full-on sobriety to something that will allow them to get up early tomorrow without any lingering effects. If that thing you need to do in the morning involves hiking, surfing, biking, or the like, Athletic Brewing is directing their efforts at you. Which isn’t to say that others can’t enjoy their brews too, but health and environmentalism are clearly important to them.

The label informs us that Free Wave comes in at just 70 calories per can and that two percent of all sales are donated to restoring outdoor trails. It’s nice to see a brewery with values. But we still have to answer the question at hand, “Is Free Wave Hazy IPA good?”


The first thing I noticed upon pouring Free Wave into a pint glass is that it isn’t all that hazy. Slightly foggy might be a better way to describe it. While this is neither good nor bad, it continues to make me wonder if there are certain characteristics that are tough to establish in an NA beer. The body is a mostly translucent dark straw color. It has a generously foamy white head with a good amount of lacing and retention.

A big whiff from the glass really begins to open up the quality of the brew. There is a distinct and pleasant grassy hop aroma that contains hints of everything from pine to citrus, with some floral underpinnings. What is really remarkable to me is that it smells just like an alcoholic hazy IPA. No matter how good or bad an NA beer, there is always something just a little bit off or missing. Not so here, and it continues upon tasting.

Many of the notes found on the nose persist on the tongue, with an added bit of sweetness stemming from an array of fruit flavors. There are hints of peach and mango, while what I get most is grapefruit. The floral and the pine are still present and at good levels throughout.

There is an underlying sense of wort, which is about the only thing that I imagine someone could find offense with. Personally, it doesn’t bother me much and is far from overpowering, while the absence of malt flavor helps the hoppiness stand out further. Some prefer their hops to linger, but I am satisfied with the clean finish this hazy provides.

The body is perhaps a shade lighter than your average hazy. The mouthfeel is pleasantly smooth, and there is an ample amount of carbonation that is sometimes lacking in the NA world. Overall, this beer fills in many of those common gaps.

I came into this Free Wave Hazy IPA review suspecting that I would enjoy the experience, and the beer more than delivered. While the aromas and flavors aren’t particularly unique or inventive, it is tough to find anything to complain about. We’ll see how that adds up in my final rating.

Athletic Brewing Free Wave Hazy IPA Rating

I have to come clean. I am a huge fan of hazy IPAs. They are one of my favorite varieties of craft beer, and their plentiful availability means I have been enjoying quite a few recently. On one hand, this could artificially inflate my Free Wave Hazy IPA rating. But on the other hand, it means that I am very familiar with the subtleties of the style, what makes some better than others. There’s a chance it makes me an even tougher critic. But Free Wave impressed me quite a bit.

Its flavor profile reminds me of some of the best alcoholic hazys that I’ve sampled, and it stands out in that there is nothing obviously noticeable to distinguish it as an NA beer. I don’t think it’s imperative for a non-alcoholic beer to mimic its boozy brethren in order to impress, but it does allow me to enjoy the experience more purely when there isn’t a clear element missing.

I have been satisfied with all of the Athletic Brewing varieties that I’ve tried and especially so here. Some might prefer a little more hop character, but there is plenty for my liking. I look forward to enjoying more Free Waves after good days out on trails like the ones they support. This hazy earns 5 out of 5 stars from me.

You can purchase all Athletic Brewing Co beers directly from their website here.

Photos credit:
From Youtube Channel: Non-Alcoholic Beer Channel