Non-alcoholic beer is a significant market, with estimated sales around 18 billion in the US in 2020. Despite this, the vast majority of non-alcoholic beers are mass-produced light lagers like O’Douls. A handful of brewers have seen the opportunity to move into the non-alcoholic space by making craft beers with a more diverse flavor profile. This makes sense, there are lots of craft beer fans who would occasionally enjoy a non-alcoholic option that gives them the flavors they enjoy in craft beer. One of the biggest non-alcoholic craft beer companies is Athletic Brewing out of Connecticut. Athletic makes a range of non-alcoholic ales and lagers, from light lagers to IPAs to dark beers. I have never really drank non-alcoholic beer before, if I am not drinking beer I usually just drink water, tea or occasional soft drinks, but Athletic sent me a sample of their Oktoberfest and I had to try it out. It actually came in handy during the Celtic playoff run, some of the games started late and I wanted to pace myself a bit, so I mixed in an Athletic Oktoberfest to keep myself from over-doing it. Athletic Oktoberfest is available in the fall in 12 oz cans.
Athletic Brewing Oktoberfest pours clear light orange with a solid white head. The aroma is mild, just a little bready malt. These malts lead the flavor, notes of cereal and toffee. This is balanced by some floral and grassy hops. Athletic Oktoberfest is very light and easy drinking, and finishes crisp with some lingering malt flavor. This is a really interesting alternative, it is a touch thin for my taste in the style but that keeps it light and the flavor hits the notes you would expect from a marzen. I doubt I will start drinking non-alcoholic beers on a regular basis, but when I do I will definitely check out more offerings from Athletic Brewing. Hoppy Boston score: 3.75/5.