IPA / Bravus NA / <0.5%
IPA is brewed with a ton of Simcoe, Cascade, Columbus and Centennial hops, it doesn't make your mouth pucker with typical IPA bitterness. It is far more approachable, allowing even non-IPA enthusiasts to enjoy it. And thanks to a proprietary brewing method, you would never guess it is non-alcoholic. Give it a try, you'll love it!
Most brands that find themselves creating products in the non-alcoholic beer and wine industry focus their marketing efforts on promoting all of the health benefits that can be had by consuming their beverages. Bravus, a brewery out of Southern California that claims to be the first in the country dedicated solely to the creation of NA beer, seems to be going about things a little bit differently. Their primary strategy seems to be getting customers to forget that their beer lacks alcohol and simply treat it like any other craft beer. They have a wider array of varieties than almost any NA brewery that I’ve seen, but they still keep things simple for the most part.
I have had some mixed results with Bravus beer in the past, but because they are making so many different types of brews, I’m excited to sample them all and see if any of them stand above the rest. IPAs are still the gold standard in the world of craft beer, so if you want to be a successful brewery, it seems key to establish yourself with a quality IPA that is both approachable and flavorful. I figure that it’s about time I try out what Bravus has to offer in this regard. Continue reading this Bravus IPA review to find out if this non-alcoholic can of hops is worth your while.
Bravus IPA Review
Bravus clearly distinguishes between each of their varieties of beer by giving each of their labels a different color that represents that particular beer in some way. For their flagship IPA, that color is a forest green, the color of hops, including the Simcoe, Cascade, Columbus, and Centennial that are used in the making of this brew. They are following the current craft beer trend of wrapping cans with glossy labels rather than printing directly to the can. I don’t love what this does in regards to temperature, but it isn’t a huge problem.
There isn’t much else to the presentation on the can. It might be important to note that Bravus is not strictly without alcohol. It comes in somewhere below 0.5 percent abv, which is what officially classifies a beer as NA. Again, many of these breweries advertise health benefits on their packaging, but interestingly not Bravus.
Poured into a glass, this IPA has all the look of a traditional brew. It develops a really quality foamy head that has some strong retention. The color isn’t the strongest trait, on the far light side of golden with a bit of appealing haze.
The aromas that dominate the nose are quite surprising. On the spectrum of modern IPAs, the strength of the hop character is very low. What I get instead is plenty of vegetal smell with a little bit of citrus running underneath it. Don’t get me wrong, there is some hop presence, but it is rather faint compared to the hints of sour wort that come through.
While presentation and aroma are worth more than nothing in the realm of craft beer, what it really comes down to when attempting to answer the question, “Is Bravus IPA good?” is the flavor profile. So let’s dig in and find out.
Is Bravus IPA Good?
The first notes on the tongue are less surprising than they were on the nose because I am now prepared for them, and they follow the aroma pretty well. There is a fair amount of acidity upfront that persists throughout the tasting experience. The wort that I smelled is also there but not as sour as I worried it might be, so that’s a plus.
I can tell that there are a variety of hops used to brew this beer, but they are still rather faint on the tongue. In and of itself, that isn’t a bad thing, but I do think they are overshadowed by some less appealing flavors. There are other light notes of pine and even some tea, but the wort is pretty tough to sift through to find anything else. That major trait is vegetables, which I don’t mind but isn’t everyone’s favorite flavor.
The mouthfeel is strong, very reminiscent of a traditional alcoholic brew, and the body is light and drinkable. Even if the flavors aren’t exactly what you like, I do think it’s pretty clear that Bravus knows how to craft a beer designed to make you forget that what you’re sipping on is lacking a crucial ingredient.
There are a lot of things going on with this tasting experience, from misplaced expectations to some uncommon tasting notes. Coming up with a fair and balanced Bravus IPA rating could be a little tricky. Finish reading to see what I arrive at.
Bravus IPA Rating
I suspect that there is a fair amount of disconnect between how my personal taste regards this beer and how the general population would. Non-alcoholic or not, when someone cracks open a flagship IPA, they are expecting to get lot of hop character, maybe some citrus or grass flavors to go along with it. I can only assume that most people would be disappointed with what they actually receive from this beer, which is a fairly dominant vegetal wort. It just so happens that this is a quality I actually don’t mind in a brew and when ice cold I find quite refreshing. But as an impartial reviewer, I do have to keep in mind that this process isn’t all about me.
I could absolutely see others being put off by this beer, as it really doesn’t match any reasonable expectations. But I think if entered into with an open mind, there isn’t anything terribly offensive about the flavor profile. If they could bring up the hop level and tone down the wort a bit I think they could arrive at something very nice. It remains refreshing and drinkable to me, though. This is why I don’t feel like being too harsh and will end this Bravus IPA review by awarding it 3 out of 5 stars. I enjoy it, but there is a lot of room for improvement.