Brooklyn Special Effects IPA
Brooklyn Special Effects IPA
IPA / Brooklyn NA / <0.5%
Brooklyn Special Effects IPA brings the bright hop aromas and juicy citrus flavors of our favorite IPAs to the non-alcoholic world. We brewed it for drinkers everywhere who love all things hoppy and refreshing, but without the high ABV and with under 100 calories. Whenever and wherever the IPA mood strikes, Special Effects IPA is there to help you do more with your days and nights.
More and more craft breweries that are dedicated to the creation of non-alcoholic beer are popping up around the nation. Many of them started with a few flagships brews and have now begun to expand with a variety of experimental styles. But in every industry there are a few brands that decide to do things a little bit differently. Aside from the old school options that simply came from domestic lager brewers taming down their traditional versions, I have encountered very few beer makers who craft both high quality alcoholic beer and dip their toes in the NA realm. Brooklyn Brewery, based out of…well…Brooklyn, is one such company.
In the alcoholic department, they are currently brewing everything from sours to hazy IPAs to chocolate stouts. But in 2019 they realized the demand was there for quality non-alcoholic craft beer and began releasing options in Sweden of all places. That arm of their brand, called Special Effects, expanded distribution quickly, and is now a major piece of their operations. Currently this line of brews contains only an IPA and a hoppy amber, but there are surely more options on the horizon. With roots dating back to the 1800s, this brewery clearly knows what they are doing when it comes to crafting delicious beer, but NA can be a different animal. Let’s see how they stack up through this Brooklyn Special Effects IPA review.
Brooklyn Special Effects IPA Review
The first thing you notice about this beer, even on the shelf before you know exactly what you’re looking at, is the psychedelic design of the can’s label. This trippy green and yellow spiraling might be a little loud for some, but I am a hippie at heart, so personally I enjoy it. Absent from the label is any sort of marketing material or appeals to the health-conscious consumer, so it seems they are relying on their brand and design.
The pour has a nice bright golden color to it, with zero haze to speak of. There is a generous foamy head that dissipates quite slowly and shows good lacing around the rim of the glass. It appears more like a golden ale or wit than an IPA, but that may not mean anything.
In terms of aroma, what I get most upfront is a solid note of grassy hops. There is a bit of citrus backbone, but it tilts more toward a lemon-lime scent than the more common orange. I also get some moderately strong grain wort on the nose and not much malt to speak of. Ultimately nothing in the aroma is very powerful at all. It smells like this may be more of a safe sipper, but I’ve been misled about that before.
While appearance and aroma can tip you off so you know what to expect going into the tasting, they don’t really answer the question, “Is Brooklyn Special Effects IPA good?” To do that, we must dive in and take the first swig.
Is Brooklyn Special Effects IPA Good?
No surprises this time. It is obvious from the very first sip that essentially every element of this beer runs straight down the middle. There are some pleasant hops present, but they are pretty tame. I could definitely use some more oomph in that department, but the grassy quality they exhibit, with just a hint of pine, is one that I enjoy on my palette.
The lemon-lime citrus notes sit nicely in the back of the mouth. No pucker factor at all, and really there is no activity to speak of on the tongue. The grain quality provides a nice base, and I am pleased that the wort does not play a prominent role in the tasting as I suspected it might. A little bit of caramel malt even comes through, but it is quite hard to discern.
The body is medium if not a tad bit heavier than you expect from an NA ale. The mouthfeel actually gives me just a hint of dryness, which is quite nice. There is essentially no sweet character to speak of throughout this tasting.
Finish is crucial to me, and this one is relatively clean. There is just a tiny amount of lingering hop flavor but nothing compared to most other offerings in this category. I wouldn’t say that it is exactly crisp, but the flavor melts off the tongue in rapid fashion.
There is something to be said for doing everything well, but is it enough if you aren’t standing out in any specific way? Finish reading below to find out my answer to that question, as well as my final Brooklyn Special Effects IPA rating.
Brooklyn Special Effects IPA Rating
I tend to lean toward the experimental when evaluating new craft beers. There are so many options on the market these days, even in the realm of NA, that it has become hard to impress me with anything that walks the middle of the road. That said, grading a non-alcoholic beer is done on a curve, so if you can manage to balance everything out solidly and avoid any true pitfalls, you still have a chance to outshine the competition. Having sampled dozens of these things, the number one priority for any NA beer should be to avoid offending. There are plenty that fail at that task. This one nails it.
I cannot imagine anyone taking a case of this home and then being disappointed in how it tastes, unless they are a beer snob with unreasonably high expectation. Do I want more from it? Of course. I wish there was some more complexity to the flavor profile and that something, anything, would jump out to make it immediately distinguishable from all of the other NA IPAs out there. But if we are talking about drinkability, this one hits the mark. I am torn between awarding it 3 or 4 stars, but the more I sit and sip, the more that I find it is simply a very solid beer. That is enough for me to wrap up this Brooklyn Special Effects IPA review by giving it 4 out of 5 stars. Perhaps unremarkable but offensive to nobody.