Surreal Brewing Juicy Mavs Hazy IPA
Surreal Brewing Juicy Mavs Hazy IPA
IPA / Surreal Brewing NA / <0.5%
This Hazy IPA bursts with tropical fruit and citrus character, accentuated by fruity yeast esters & a subtle, clean malt finish.
Within the world of non-alcoholic beer, there seems to be a very distinct subset of breweries who focus much of their brand and marketing material around outdoor recreation. As someone who spends a lot of time moving my body outside, this makes a lot of sense. For decades, hikers, climbers, surfers, and campers have carried a couple of beers along in their packs because despite the added weight it was worth it to help cap off a day of exerting the muscles under the sun. At the same time, these types of athletes are becoming more and more focused on optimizing health and wellbeing at all times. Enter beer that is devoid of booze and low in calories. A perfect marriage.
Surreal Brewing, based out of Campbell, California in Silicon Valley, is one of these craft breweries dedicated to creating tasty NA beers and targeting them at active outdoor enthusiasts. They have released offerings such as a Pastry Porter, which they claim is perfect for sipping around a campfire, and their Natural Bridge Kolsch, which is dedicated to the unique rock formations located in the ocean near Santa Cruz. The legendary Mavericks surf break on the California coast north of Half Moon Bay is the inspiration for the beer I’ll be sampling today. So let’s dive in and get started with this Surreal Brewing Juicy Mavs Hazy IPA review.
Surreal Brewing Juicy Mavs Hazy IPA Review
Surreal Brewing’s can labels are quite artistic if a little bit busy. This one has their brand label backed by a large wave cresting down upon a surfer. The color scheme is mostly green and blue. Clearly noted on the front of the label are the facts that this beer contains 0 sugar and just 25 calories, a remarkably low total even for an NA beer. The back of the can has some tasting notes and presents a couple of silver medals that this beer has apparently won.
Things get surprising rather quickly upon pouring this beer into a glass. While it does have a little bit of haze to it, the color is quite a bit darker than your typical hazy IPA. To me, it appears to have more of an amber shade. It is topped by a generous soapy head that shows a lot of retention and some good lacing.
(One thing I feel should be noted. Both cans of this beer that I tried, which had been peacefully sitting in my fridge for some time, practically erupted upon opening. I have no idea what would cause this or if it’s common with this particular beer, but there was no obvious reason for it to happen, so beware.)
I have sampled enough of these types of NA beers to have some pretty strong expectations going into the experience. But the surprises, though perhaps minor, continue with this one. They commonly have some citrus notes and grassy hops combined with a bit of a vegetal wort in both aroma and flavor. At least on the nose, this one has less wort to it – a good thing – and more caramel malt hints.
These surprises are pleasant to see from me but do make me suspect this beer will be less juicy and fruit forward than I inferred from the packaging. Perhaps that’s simply on me. Let’s move forward, find out if that’s true, and answer the question, “Is Surreal Brewing Juicy Mavs Hazy IPA good?”
Is Surreal Brewing Juicy Mavs Hazy IPA Good?
There are two major thoughts that come to the front of my mind upon tasting. The first is that my sense of smell was mostly accurate. This offering has more malt and less wort than most, which I am pleased to find. There is also less strength to the citrus and hop notes than I would like.
My second thought is that the flavor profile of this beer does not match what they are advertising it as. A consumer grabbing this off of the shelf and expecting a juicy, hop-forward brew is instead going to find what tastes to me like a weakly malted amber. There is a minimal amount of haze to it, but to name it “Juicy” Mavs is rather misleading.
This isn’t to say that the tasting experience is entirely unpleasant. I simply wonder if much of the character is heavily influenced by the severe reduction in calorie count. The mild citrus and the grassy hops that are in there are fine. The bready malt leans toward caramel, but none of these elements are rich enough to satiate the tongue.
Fortunately the body and mouthfeel don’t have as much of a watery quality as one might expect in something with this few calories and such timid flavors. I believe the abundance of carbonation keeps it on the heavier side of medium for this type of brew.
What does all of this mean for my final Surreal Brewing Juicy Mavs Hazy IPA rating? You will just have to finish reading below and find out.
Surreal Brewing Juicy Mavs Hazy IPA Rating
I don’t expect non-alcoholic beers to check all of the boxes that a traditional craft brew would. That is why I’m always sure to grade them on a little bit of a curve. But that curve does not completely absolve them from following through on what they are marketing. This option from Surreal is classified as a juicy and hazy IPA, and while it has some minor characteristics of that style of beer, to me it is more of a heavily carbonated amber. This means that the people who choose to buy it might not be happy with what they get.
These wouldn’t be a complete death knell if it ended up being a delicious amber. While it has a few pleasing qualities, it is mostly just in need of more of every aspect – hops, citrus, malt. They seem to have gotten too carried away with limiting calories. In the end, the flavor is far from offensive and definitely drinkable. It just doesn’t deliver what you want. That’s why I am compelled to end this Surreal Brewing Juicy Mavs Hazy IPA review by giving it just 2 out of 5 stars.