Brew Review: Athletic Brewing Non-Alcoholic Beer

A woman holds a chilled can of Run Wild IPA by Athletic Brewing

If you’re part of a social running scene, it’s likely that you have attended a pub run, a beer mile or a race with a free beer at the finish line. Love it or not, beer is often woven into running culture.

But while beer can make you feel good in the moment, it doesn’t do your fitness any favors. A Sports Medicine article suggests that alcohol can impair recovery after a run by altering blood flow and protein synthesis. And according to the Sleep Foundation, alcohol consumption can decrease sleep quality and disrupt a peaceful night’s rest, which can cause other health problems and reduce your quality of life.

Why non-alcoholic beer?

Cans of Athletic Brewing's Upside Dawn Golden Ale and Run Wild IPA

Athletic Brewing created their non-alcoholic (NA) beer to fill a gap for beer lovers who want to feel their best, athletes or not. If you love craft beer, want a break from alcohol and like a tasty drink that’s not a sugar bomb or a boring glass of water (sorry, water), the options have traditionally been scarce.

There has also been a bit of a stigma around NA beer. In the past, the options have been unappealing and lacked innovation.

The Fleet Feet review team rose to the occasion to sample two beers from Athletic Brewing: Run Wild IPA and Upside Dawn Golden Ale. Here’s what we thought.

Run Wild IPA


Water, organic Vienna malt, malted barley, oats, hops, wheat, yeast.

IBU: 35

Calories: 70


Brewed with a blend of five Northwest hops, this IPA is well-balanced with harmony among the malt and bitterness and a hint of citrusy hops. The taste is clean and refreshing.

“Super IPA taste had me amazed,” says one reviewer. “I was expecting it to taste chemical-y since there isn’t alcohol, but they really nailed the flavor from the hops! I poured one for my brother and he drank the whole thing without even noticing it was non-alcoholic.”

“It tastes great,” says another reviewer. “Definitely a citrus-style blend of (mostly) West Coast style and fruit/haze approximating Northeast style.”

The same reviewer reported that he enjoyed several cans of Run Wild throughout a sweaty day of intense yard work (without fear of losing a limb to the lawn mower).

While reviewers overall give Run Wild a thumbs up, they noted that it’s best served very cold. “After a slight amount of out-of-the-fridge time, I’m not sure the flavor profile works exactly,” one tester said.

A woman holds a non-alcoholic beer

Upside Dawn Golden Ale


Water, organic Vienna malt, malted barley, oats, English and traditional American hops, wheat, yeast. The gluten is removed from the finished product.

IBU: 15

Calories: 50


Upside Dawn is a classic Golden style ale brewed with Vienna malt and English and traditional American hops. It’s understated and light.

Our reviewers are ready to relax with Upside Dawn.

“It’s super refreshing and feels like it could pair well with a barbecue or a day on the beach,” says one reviewer. “Instant summer vibes and a smooth finish. I typically go for wheat beer, and was really happy with the taste of this! It’s just hoppy enough but not as powerful as an IPA.”

Another reviewer noted that she doesn’t normally drink Golden Ales, so she was surprised to like Upside Dawn the best. “It tasted light and crisp on the front end with a sharp note at the end that feels exactly like what I want after a sunny, hot run,” she says. “They nailed this recipe. I give it a 10 out of 10 for alcohol-free beer.”

Testers described the taste as clean and crisp. “It doesn’t leave me with a gummy aftertaste like some beers do. I cannot tell the difference between this brew and a beer with alcohol and gluten. Honestly, I don’t know how it tastes so good.”

“I can’t believe it’s not beer”

Chilled cans of Upside Dawn and Run Wild IPA

Well, it is beer. But you know what we mean. “This tastes just like the real deal” was the most common refrain among our reviewers. A few said that Athletic converted them from NA skeptics to appreciators.

“I didn’t get the point of NA beer before I tried Athletic,” says one reviewer. “But when I tasted the Run Wild IPA, I couldn’t believe it didn’t contain alcohol. It was so delicious, and it was refreshing to enjoy it during the work day without slowing down my productivity.”

Two of our testers thought they felt a slight buzz from their drinks. “Could it be placebo or 0.05% alcohol? Maybe hops have their own special power!” one reviewer says. According to Athletic’s website, however, 8 of their NA beers would need to be consumed within the span of an hour in order to match the alcohol level of a typical beer.

Another reviewer says she’s going to start bringing the Upside Dawn Golden to her group runs. “I love having a post-run beer with my friends, but I’m sick of the headache I always have the next morning,” she says. “The Athletic brews taste like the beer I love but they don’t sabotage my Friday morning run like beer with high ABV.”

How it’s made

According to their website, Athletic Brewing Co. found that in order to craft NA beer with full flavor, character and aroma, the brews needed to be fully fermented. They create each batch with an artisanal approach to maximize the expression of all ingredients. After years of experimentation, Athletic brewers discovered natural alterations to the traditional brewing process. They don’t burn off the alcohol, but brew fully fermented, easy-drinking beer conditioned to less than 0.5% alcohol by volume (ABV).

Who it’s for

Whether you live a sober lifestyle or you just want to imbibe a bit less, our review team recommends Athletic Brewing for runners and for anyone looking to live a healthy lifestyle. Moderation (of basically everything) is key to living your best life.

The Athletic brews we sampled taste like their alcoholic equivalent at only 0.5 ABV and can help you enjoy beer in a way that’s better for your health, with fewer calories and no disruption to your recovery or performance. We’ll drink to that!