Surreal Brewing Natural Bridges Kolsch


Surreal Brewing Natural Bridges Kolsch

Kolsch / Surreal Brewing NA / <0.5%

Awarded 2019 World's Best Low Alcohol & NA Beer. This Kolsch Style NA has a delicate malty character with a hint of honeydew melon and a crisp, refreshing finish.

Many of the better non-alcoholic beers that I have sampled don’t overdo it with the calorie cutting and fall somewhere in the range of 50 to 100 per can. But I have recently found a few brands whose brews are coming in with startlingly low calorie numbers, dipping down to 25 or even lower. I am not privy to the exact details of the brewing processes that remove alcohol and lower calories, but it is no shock to me that as you reduce calorie count you also may tend to lose other elements that can benefit the flavor profile. This isn’t always strictly the case though, so I try not to head into any review with a pessimistic mind.

Surreal Brewing, for instance, is one of these brands that is releasing a number of varieties containing hardly any calories at all. But the first style of theirs that I sampled, the Juicy Mavs Hazy IPA, had plenty of rich character to it despite having just 25 calories per can. I had some other issues with the brew, but they didn’t pertain to lightness. Their Natural Bridges Kolsch that I will be sampling and reviewing today falls even lower on the calorie scale, with a miniscule 17 per 12-ounce can. Here’s hoping that the problems that befell that hazy I tasted aren’t present in this lighter option. I am heading into this Surreal Brewing Natural Bridges Kolsch review with an open mind to let you know if this beer is worth your while.

Surreal Brewing Natural Bridges Kolsch Review

Surreal Brewing is based out of Campbell, California, which is located in Silicon Valley, and none of that is surprising as you look at their packaging. They have something of a heavy-handed marketing strategy focused both on health-consciousness and an appeal to those who enjoy outdoor recreation. This specific label displays artwork depicting the natural bridge rock formations located off the coast of Santa Cruz. The design is a little busy if I’m being honest. Right up front is the information that this beer contains just 2.8 grams of carbs and 0 sugar. There is also a tasting note blurb on the back.

Before I even get the beer into a glass, I am reminded that Surreal does something over the top with their carbonation. The can foams generously upon cracking, and a thick off-white head forms upon pouring. It dissipates very slowly and leads to some good lacing atop a nice golden body with a slight tint of orange.

The nose doesn’t have a ton of character to it, but that pesky old wort backbone is present. I also get a light hop aroma and some floral quality, which is rather nice. There isn’t much at all in terms of malt or sweetness of any kind really. My hope is that wort doesn’t come through as too vegetal.

So far this brew doesn’t exactly appear or smell like a traditional Kolsch. It may end up being darker and heavier than necessary, but I won’t judge a book by it’s cover. It’s time to dig in and answer the question, “Is Surreal Brewing Natural Bridges Kolsch good?”

Is Surreal Brewing Natural Bridges Kolsch Good?

The first word that comes to mind upon taking a swig of this beer is “underwhelming.” It is by no means terrible in terms of flavor profile. There just aren’t a lot of strong or complex components there.

My experience with the kolsch style has led me to expect bright and refreshing brews that are perfect for casual summer days. Not so much for slamming throughout a day but maybe enjoy on the porch around sunset. While this particular offering has some drinkability to it, I don’t find it very refreshing.

The body is bigger and heavier than expected, especially for something with less than 20 calories. It’s unfortunate that size doesn’t come with more richness in the profile. Instead there is a dryish earthy quality that nestles in on the back of the tongue. It actually resembles mineral water in a way, but more so in flavor than texture. I wouldn’t say that it is watered down at all.

Interestingly, I do notice that the bigger gulp I take, the more it does resemble a traditional kolsch. It still sits too heavy for what I want from this style, but there is a bit of a melon seltzer backbone when you fill your mouth. One big plus is that the finish is very clean if not quite the most crisp.

I was ultimately disappointed with the first offering from Surreal that I tried. This one was a bit more pleasing but still lacks a lot of remarkable character. Find out below how I factored in all of these elements and where I landed on my final Surreal Brewing Natural Bridges Kolsch rating.

Surreal Brewing Natural Bridges Kolsch Rating

My major qualm with Surreal Brewing remains their seeming inability to match character with the classification of beer. It is far less blatant this time around as it was when their hazy IPA tasted like an amber, but I still don’t get a ton of kolsch quality to this brew. It is nowhere near as bright and refreshing as I want it to be. I do wonder if it is simply the case that when making an effort to reduce calories to such a stark degree, there is so little room for added flavor components that many of the styles end up as one amalgamation without much differentiation.

All of this said, the beer itself is far from offensive. I am pleased that the vegetal wort quality, which can ruin a lot of these NA offerings, is very, very tame here. The fullness of the body was a pleasant surprise, and even though the flavors are mostly weak, they play well together for the most part. But to receive a high score in the end, the least you need to do is deliver what you’re promising. So the highest grade I can give and where I ultimately arrived to finish up this Surreal Brewing Natural Bridges Kolsch review is 3 out of 5 stars. Fine enough to enjoy once, but there are better options out there.


Photos Credit: