For the past few years, a number of breweries have reached out trying to get their non-alcoholic (NA) options in a Beer for Skiers column, but they just weren’t quite enjoyable enough to make the cut. Lately, however, a slew of breweries started making NA options that actually taste good. This timed perfectly with spring backcountry skiing season, where late nights and hangovers can destroy critical dawn patrol plans and lead to missing out on perfect corn skiing.
While Athletic Brewing Co. (ABC) is still leading the way for the buzz-free beer category, a few other beer makers have recently cracked the code. Additionally, some companies are putting CBD in sparkling drinks that are appealing to those looking to take a break from the hard seltzer party but still want to enjoy some refreshing bubbly goodness after a day of skiing.
In addition to making super-early starts for backcountry spring skiing easier, these beverages also provide respite for anyone looking to take a break from booze after all the endless spring après parties that start to wind down after ski season ends, but when spring and summer social season picks up.
Best Overall Non-Alcoholic Après Option: Athletic Brewing Co. Free Wave
This NA hazy option was the first time I found myself enjoying an NA brew. I had been trying a few lo-cal, lo-ABV hazy options (some were better than others) but this one was better than all of them, even without the resulting minor buzz. Brewed with Amarillo, Citra, and Mosaic hops in a classic Hazy style that mellows the sharpness but maximizes the flavor of the hops, I found myself reaching for a Free Wave pretty often in April during spring skiing après, and I don’t regret it. Ready to try some? athleticbrewing.com.
Looking for just a little ABV in a hazy? Check out Dechutes’ Wowza! Lo-cal Hazy Pale Ale
Most Refreshing: Dogfish Head Lemon Quest
Dogfish Head’s all-new (and first NA) brew is a perfect blend between a full-bodied wheat beer and a citrusy, refreshing sour ale. Made with lemon purée, blueberry juice, açai berries, monk fruit, and sea salt, this near-beer seems to be as refreshing as Gatorade but with less sugar and more natural flavors. The wheat beer style of brewing gives Lemon Quest a full mouthfeel as well, which makes it taste more like actual beer and complements the citrus’ tart notes. This NA option is also a part of Dogfish Head’s long relationship with The Nature Conservancy, to which the brewery is donating more than $50,000 in 2021 for the “Mother Nature, Let’s Do This” campaign. Learn more: dogfishhead.com.
Best Non-Alcoholic IPA: Lagunitas IPNA
Of the three NA IPAs that could have made the list—including ABC’s Run Wild and Bootstrap Brewing’s Strapless—Lagunitas’ IPNA made it for tasting so similar to the fantastic regular Lagunitas IPA. While it’s a little more sessionable than the regular IPA, the IPNA is still hop-forward and has a lovely bitter, West Coast-style flavor. Brewed with Citra, Mosaic, and CTZ hops, IPNA is a great option for fans of American IPAs who want to keep drinking beer but want to skip the hangover. More Info: lagunitas.com.
Best Non-Alcoholic Dark Brew: Athletic Brewing Co. Nature Nut
Hot on the heels of their four new dark beer options, non-alcoholic beer maker Athletic Brewing Co. teamed up with Justin’s Nut Butter to make a peanut butter brew. Nature Nut’s taste features more malt than nut, but there’s some sweetness—and added cacao and vanilla—that complement Justin’s peanut butter cups really well. Fans of robust and rich porters and stouts will find any of ABC’s NA dark beers a little lacking, but this is definitely a step in the right direction for anyone who has a hankering for a dark beer that refreshes without providing a buzz. In other good news: ABC and Justin’s are using proceeds from this brew to repair trails in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park. Also, it comes with peanut butter: athleticbrewing.com.
Darker and not non-alcoholic: Telluride Brewing’s Snow RePORTER Matches Black Diamond Flavor with Blue Square ABV
Best Non-Alcoholic CBD Sparkling Beverages to Replace Your Hard Seltzer
Miraflora Sparkling CBD Beverage
I’m a huge fan of Miraflora’s CBD products, especially their sport-oriented CBD beverage options. With zero added sugar, it’s as easy to drink as a La Croix, but it’s made with amino acids, coconut water, and 35 mg of full-spectrum CBD that helps revitalize the body after a day of skiing. Miraflora also makes versions of their beverages for relaxing and balance that still feature CBD and taste great as well. Perfect for social occasions that don’t involve skiing. Order some Miraflora CBD Bevvies here: miraflora.co.
CarryOn Recover Sparkling CBD Beverage
With vitamin C, vitamin A, no added sugar, and 20 mg of CBD, CarryOn’s Recover drink is another great post-skiing beverage that won’t get you in trouble on the drive home. But the best thing about this drink is the grapefruit flavor is spot-on and tastes better than the pink Pamplemousse La Croix. With a bit less CBD per can compared to Miraflora, it’s a great option for anyone who might be more sensitive or doesn’t know how they will react to the completely legal, non-mind altering cannabinoid. See where you can find CarryOn: carryonwellness.com.
Looking for something you can drink before, during, and after skiing? This New Drink Mix Will Make Your Morning Coffee and Après Beer Less Dehydrating