When I was in grad school, my girlfriend of three years broke up with me. It was a pretty rough experience, especially since I wasn’t the paragon of great mental health that I am today (LOL, I could barely get that on the page before cackling). I dealt with it using various degrees of destructive behavior. One unfortunate routine I fell into for a while was getting into Irish coffee; I had an 8 a.m, Monday-Wednesday-Friday class on the music of Claude Debussy, and I began incorporating (very heavy) pours of Baileys or whiskey into the drip coffee I’d bring to class. I’m not proud of this—it was a dark moment in my life. That said, I must concede that there’s something deeply satisfying (relaxing, even) about being drunk and caffeinated at 8:45 a.m., listening to Debussy’s string quartet.
Now, just over a decade later, a lot has changed for me; and as I struggle to come up with good examples of that, I’m sitting here trying to meet a deadline while also cleaning my office because my mother is visiting this weekend. I’ll be damned if I need a drink wasn’t one of my first thoughts this morning. But since I’m trying to lead a ~*healthier*~ life these days, I’m more inclined to reach for something less alarming than a Big Gulp-sized “Baileys iced latte.” Fortunately, our good friends at Athletic Brewing Co. have dropped a bizarre new concoction that’s somehow been the perfect addition to my morning.
Athletic Brewing is known for its delicious N/A beers (lovingly reviewed by us here and here). Like those of any great brewery, Athletic Brewing’s special releases keep excited customers on their toes, and its newest drop, Suped Up, is one worth tasting, if not only because it’s simply weird as hell. A collab with Austin, TX-based coffee producer Super Coffee, Suped Up is a brew that interpolates tasty coffee and upcycled barley rice protein; the brewery describes it as an “extra-dark brew … for gym rats and beer aficionados alike.” In layman’s terms, this is [takes deep breath] a non-alcoholic beer that has real coffee in it, as well as five grams of protein per 12-ounce can; so next time you’re crushing a set of reps at the gym with the gang and need a boost (and the Justin Bieber track blasting around you isn’t enough), you can reach for a cold one. Because, you know, why not collapse all your interests into one overwhelming event?
To come full circle: Now, you can have a guilt-free, coffee-filled beer at 10 a.m. when your mom texts you that her plane just landed, but you actually have work to do, so you can’t simply slosh some Baileys or Jameson into your tasty morning cuppa. If you’re in one of the previous scenarios (or just want a protein-filled coffee beer in the evening, which is when people normally drink beer), I’ll tell you that Suped Up is actually very tasty. It has a distinct espresso-y nose, and retains a lighter-but-still-velvety, stout-like texture I enjoy in darker beers that integrate coffee or coffee-adjacent flavors. There’s also a slight, controlled sweetness to it, so it doesn’t fall squarely into the aggressive, hop-tinged, bitter-beer-flavor zone (I assume that’s from the protein powder).
Anyway, after making some (actually good) coffee this morning using my new grinder and then mainlining a can of this shit, I’m actually starting to feel a bit electric (fuck it: borderline lit), like when I drank a 15-year-old can of Nelly’s Pimp Juice a few years ago. There’s definitely a similar vibe happening in my body. Anyway, as I log off to go binge several episodes of You in the dark and order a burrito, I’ll leave you with a TL;DR: Athletic’s new N/A beer is a tasty one that, while aimed at a comically niche market, can arguably fit more easily into your day than a regular N/A beer. It’s surprisingly good, and is worth having on hand for the next time
your parents visit you want coffee, protein, and non-alcoholic beer at the same time.
Pick up Athletic Brewing Co.’s Suped Up on Athletic’s website.
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