Welcome to Like A Virgin, a column in which we recommend a different zero-ABV drink each week. They’re not “near beers,” they’re not “mocktails”—they’re delicious beverages that anyone and everyone should try at least once. Got an idea for a future Like A Virgin column? Email us at email@example.com.
In my opinion, Kate Bernot is the best voice in beer, and I don’t just think that because she’s a former member of Team Takeout. She’s a contributing editor at Craft Beer & Brewing magazine, a certified beer judge, and an all-around brilliant journalist. When I decided to launch Like A Virgin, I turned to her work to help teach me how to do it, even though her words often made me miss drinking. Like many sober people, I experience pangs of jealousy whenever I read about all the incredible craft brews that I’ll never drink, like the ones on Kate’s 2020 Beers of the Year list. I study her words and approach, then sulk in disappointment as I sift through more samples of underwhelming non-alcoholic beers.
One of the beers that made Kate’s list of the top 2020 beers was the Bubble Wrap IPA from Oregon’s Crux Fermentation Project, which she described as such:
It’s ripe but not sticky, with flavors of kiwi, strawberry, and honeydew. Flaked oats and wheat lend a soft but clean mouthfeel, ending with gentle carbonation that nonetheless wraps everything up. Juice, with none of the pulp.
As someone who has always described beer as either “this tastes good” or “this is liquid garbage,” I wasn’t quite sure of what Kate’s sentences meant. Then I got word that Crux was jumping on the non-alcoholic beer bandwagon with a craft IPA, and after a few moments of rejoicing, I began to feel concerned. I haven’t taken the high-level classes that explain how a beer can be “sticky,” or passed a barrage of exams about “juiciness.” So before I cracked open my first can of Crux’s NØ MØ Non-Alc IPA, I asked Kate if she’d tried it, praying that I could—ahem—borrow some of her words and fit in with the world of craft brew writers. It turns out she hasn’t tasted this one, so I’m going to do my best to sound like a beer expert.
NØ MØ is a refreshingly hoppy alternative IPA with the familiar flavor and mouthfeel of a true craft beer, owing to the fact that it’s brewed like a traditional IPA using flaked oats, honey and crystal malts, and Pacific Northwest-grown citra and mosaic hops. (I have not had a “true” craft beer in over six years, but a press release told me everything in the previous sentence was true, so I’m running with it.) I do know quite a bit about citra and mosaic hops, which I read up on while taste testing Aurora sparkling hop beverages. I might not be confident in my craft-beer-judging skills, but I can confidently say that NØ MØ knøws damn well what it’s doing.
Right off the bat, NØ MØ blasts off with those citra hops, with heavy notes of sweet and bitter grapefruit, pith and all. I suppose you could say it’s “juicy,” but one that’s watered down... “like juice, but without the pulp.” (I think I’m getting it!) It doesn’t taste sticky, and after I “accidentally” poured some all down my shirt, I can confirm it’s not flesh-sticky either. But who cares about stickiness when the beer is so clean, crisp, and delicious? NØ MØ is fruity and bitter without being acrid, leaving no trace of bad taste in your mouth. There are probably plenty of other interesting notes in this beer to dissect, but I was too caught up in pure enjoyment to go looking for them.
NØ MØ is a complex brew that that will delight craft beer experts who have moved on to sober pastures, as well as craft beer novices like myself, and people who don’t give a hoot about beers’ craftiness and are just looking for a great drink. Quite simply, “it tastes good.”