Hairless Dog NA IPA
Hairless Dog NA IPA
IPA / Hairless Dog NA / 0.0%
Our very popular IPA is where heartland malt meets West Coast hops meets 0.0% ABV. Maris Otter malt joins Cascade, Amarillo and Simcoe hops for a smooth, hoppy IPA you can enjoy beyond moderation.
Targeted advertising isn’t all bad. Clearly due to my interest in non-alcoholic beer, I have begun receiving social media ads for different brands. One of these craft breweries is Hairless Dog. They purport to be the first of their kind in the United States to create truly alcohol-free products, meaning all of their offerings contain 0.0 percent alcohol by volume. This is compared to the standard of less than 0.5 percent that is found in many NA beers.
Hairless Dog currently offers three different varieties, an IPA, a citra lager, and a black ale. I caved to the advertisement and was pleased to find that Hairless Dog is widely available all around the country, including where I live. I decided to pick up a six-pack of each brew and kick off my sampling with a Hairless Dog NA IPA review.
Hairless Dog cans feature a rather minimalist design of a dog’s silhouette with what appears to be a barley plant drooping out of its mouth. Each variety is simply a different color, without any other distinctions between the labels. The NA IPA is green, evoking a sense of fruity citrus before the can even opens. A black band around the top of the can contains the phrase “Party like there’s a tomorrow.”
In years past, non-alcoholic beer has been thought of as a beverage for those aiming for sobriety, oftentimes due to health problems. Some of these newer breweries seem to be directing their appeal at those who are not necessarily entirely sober but perhaps don’t feel like dealing with a hangover sometimes or maybe just want to reduce their calorie intake. That’s where this clever little marketing phrase lands for me. We can still enjoy the complexity of a craft beer without having to worry about the negative effects that come with alcohol. I’m unsure if being completely alcohol-free gives a brewery like Hairless Dog some cachet over beers with trace amounts, but there could be some value there for the strictly sober.
Is Hairless Dog NA IPA Good?
Pouring NA IPA into a glass resulted in a generous head of foam that sat atop a rather opaque orange body. It was not exactly the appearance of a hazy but something close. There was some carbonation present, and the head stuck around for a fair amount of time.
The first thing that hit me on the nose was a powerful sweetness. There was a fair amount of hop aroma to the overall scent and some faint citrus and malt notes. Upon sitting with it for awhile, I think the most accurate thing I can compare the aroma to is sweet tea. A bit of odd character but not what I would call unpleasant.
While the nose has a lot going on, the only way to answer the question, “Is Hairless Dog NA IPA good?” is by taking the first sip.
Hairless Dog NA IPA Review
Upfront, the taste followed the nose pretty clearly, with a lot of sweetness and a moderate amount of hop flavor. Trying to pin down exactly what the citrus notes are is tough, as they aren’t very strong or distinct. Perhaps my mind was being tricked by the green can, but I got some hings of lime. I believe orange is likely the predominant fruit flavor, and that would follow the appearance of the brew. Although it does not fall into the citrus family, I also sensed pear at certain points.
There is quite a bit of graininess that confuses the sweet malt character. It’s a bit of a maze trying to navigate the various hints of flavor that come and go. Just when I think something is nailed down, another seems to pop up. Nothing is particularly offensive on its own, but it makes for a rather scattered profile.
The body is distinctly medium, which seems to be about as heavy as any NA beer gets. The finish is surprisingly clean and dry, with very little lingering hop bitterness, even compared to the body.
Heading into this Hairless Dog NA IPA review, I figured I had plenty to work with considering all of the various peculiarities that rose to the forefront and drifted off at different points. But the jumbled mixture that all of those traits created is difficult to convey properly in words. Overall, the beer doesn’t give off the impression of a typical non-alcoholic flagship in that it seems to be more experimental than most. The problem lies in trying to figure out exactly what the experiment is. You could say it looks like a hazy but tastes like any number of things. I fear this may be a turn-off for those looking for something more solid as they turn to this NA line.
Hairless Dog NA IPA Rating
As with all of my beer reviews, I tried to evaluate what exactly Hairless Dog is attempting to do with its NA IPA and whether they have succeeded in that goal. This seems like a more objective measure than simply asking them to match my specific tastes. In this case, I think it might be a little much. There is definitely complexity of flavor, and if I didn’t know any better I don’t think I’d find it particularly noticeable that the beer is free of alcohol. But the beer seems unsure of what direction it wants to go in. If its only competition was light lagers, it would be a knockout, but with many NA craft offerings on shelves, including plenty of IPAs, a higher standard needs to be met.
With that said, I arrived at 2 out of 5 stars for my Hairless Dog NA IPA rating. I believe they could have done much more with this brew, or maybe much less would have been better. If a few of the flavors had been toned down just a tad, it would have scored higher in my book. If nothing else, it proves a level of competency that still leaves me excited to try what else they have to offer.