IPA / Lagunitas NA / <0.5%
Crafted with the Highest quality malts and massive dry-hop of our favorite Yakima Valley hops—Citra, Mosaic & CTZ (Columbus, Tomahawk & Zeus for those acronym-averse)—giving it a uniquely-full body and crazy-big hoppy aroma.
For decades, those beer drinkers who were looking to lay off, or at least tone down, the alcohol they were consuming were limited to rather bland light canned beer options. Not any more. Breweries around the United States are popping up with their unique takes on non-alcoholic craft beers. In some cases, that is literally all that they do.
Lagunitas Brewing Company, on the other hand, made its name early on during the craft brewing revolution and grew to become one of the most successful of its kind nationwide. Since Heineken purchased the company, they no longer meet the strict definition of a craft brewery, but they continue experimenting with different styles in an effort to offer something to nearly every beer drinker. So it is no surprise that they have developed a non-alcoholic IPA, which they have cleverly named IPNA.
I have always found the offerings of Lagunitas to be solid while not particularly outstanding or remarkable. Without anything else to go on, I picked up a six-pack of this brew so I could formulate a comprehensive Lagunitas IPNA review.
LAGUNITAS IPNA REVIEW
At first glance, the bottle for Lagunitas IPNA is fairly nondescript, with bold lettering and a rather plain label. When I looked a little bit closer, I did find one thing of note. Written around the border of the main square on the front of a the label is a curious message about this particular brew. Using some slightly colorful language, it states that this beer is created through essentially the same process as their standard IPAs, simply without the alcohol.
What this told me was not to expect anything revolutionary or inventive from this particular style. While somewhat disappointing, it’s an understandable tactic. I’m sure most breweries take few risks when coming up with a non-alcoholic option, as there isn’t enough demand to warrant a lot of experimentation. They want something solid that won’t cause complaints.
A beer can be considered non-alcoholic as long as it contains 0.5 percent or less alcohol by volume, which is clearly stated on the IPNA label. What isn’t present, a bit surprisingly, is the calorie count of this particular beer. Many drinkers turn to NA beer for health reasons, so you can often find that information readily available, but not so here.
Regardless, the presentation by Lagunitas here is relatively straightforward. And ultimately none of that matters too much because it doesn’t answer the question, “Is Lagunitas IPNA good?” Let’s find out.
Is Lagunitas IPNA Good?
Poured into a glass, IPNA is a nearly translucent golden hue, bordering on amber. It appears to have a generous amount of carbonation throughout, as well as a medium-sized foamy head that, for the most part, dissipates quickly, but a small layer did hang around for quite some time.
Upon giving it a whiff, I noticed a much stronger aroma than I have in any other non-alcoholic beers, IPA or otherwise. The scent could best be described as hop forward. There are a few other hints mixed in. I sensed a fair amount of pine, along with a bit of citrus. But most of that is overshadowed by a pungent hop aroma. I don’t consider myself an expert at identifying hop varieties, but I believe it to be predominantly Mosaic. To me it smelled like a typical no frills IPA. This may not seem remarkable, but my experience with NA beer has taught me that the scents are oftentimes subdued. Not so here.
The taste had me feeling much of the same. As I was attempting to suss out the various flavors present, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed by the fact that it did not taste like a non-alcoholic beer. I have enjoyed many of the NA brews I’ve sampled, but there does always seem to be a certain something lacking. I don’t know if it’s actually the taste of alcohol or some tangential ingredient. But I didn’t have that same sensation with this one. There was even the faintest bite.
Digging in farther to the actual flavor profile, it more or less follows the nose closely. There is a strong hop flavor up front, with the citrus and pine hiding in the background. The body is medium, with the hop bitterness almost tricking your tongue into thinking its a little heavier than it is.
There wasn’t much malt present. The carbonation seen in the glass was noticeable but not as much as it appeared to the eye. The finish was on the dry and clean side, just trace amounts of hops lingering.
I’ve found IPAs have become more smooth and drinkable as the years go by. This one took me back, in a pleasant way, to when they had a bit more punch to them, an admirable characteristic if your intention is to feel like you are drinking a normal beer. If this were part of a blind taste test, I would not suspect it lacks alcohol. But what does that mean for my Lagunitas IPNA rating?
Lagunitas IPNA Rating
I think it is clear that Lagunitas isn’t trying to do anything fancy or complicated with their IPNA. They have a successful recipe for their beers, and it seems they simply tried to make one of their traditional IPAs minus the alcohol. And it worked.
Any rating system is dependent on what the person doing the rating values. When coming up with this Lagunitas IPNA review, or any beer review for that matter, I tend to reward brewers for accomplishing what they are setting out to do, rather than catering to my specific tastes. As best I can tell, Lagunitas has succeeded in creating a beer that tastes just like a solid, middle-of-the-line IPA that’s healthier for you and comes with none of the hangover effects. I can’t say that the flavor profile knocked my socks off, but there is also nothing to hate. That’s why this beer is earning 3 out of 5 stars from me. Perhaps this will be a good starting point for Lagunitas to try some new things and come up with other NA offerings.