By Ken Carman
Stand amongst the mess that two lazy people can make when they don’t throw much away, you will see on my walls, surrounding you, thousands of bottles all through the house. I started unintentionally collecting in the early 70s. When I knew I had a choice either to tear off paneling and then replace the Southern humidity/mold rotted 1X3’s modulars used to be made from, or cover them up, I realized I would have a lot to write about… From the Bottle Collection.
SOMA Lemon Herbal
(I tried to find a jpeg. I’ve had better luck with ales that disappeared 20 years ago!)
I hardly remember this one and I always remember malt beverages when they’re really good, or really, really bad. I do have a vague memory of a lemon non-alcohol that was unimpressive, so maybe that was SOMA.
Bit of a Gruit, going back to when the Catholic Church pushed hops because some were putting aphrodisiacs and psychotropics in beer. Soma wasn’t that, but with no hops and plenty of spices: the moniker is a bit apt. I’m surprised it didn’t leave a lasting impression. It wasn’t all that long ago either: 2000 according to press releases I’ve found.
I would make a snotty comment here, but this is a tough market to make headway in compared to some. You’ve got mega bucks of AB/Miller/Coors/Guinness and German concerns breathing down your neck with a limited clientele. Plus, NAs don’t have a great reputation: especially after the vastly oversold and far more than under impressive O’Douls hit the market. (A beverage that insults Irish folk every where. If you’re going to go Irish, at least get close with Kaliber. It may be “brewed” in their British brewery, but at least it’s got flavor!)
From the net…
Soma Products Co., a partnership between Hill Nutritional Products, Philadelphia, and F.X. Matt Brewery, Utica, N.Y., has introduced Soma Herbal, a new non-alcoholic herbal beer. The product contains malt, hops, yeast and extracts of scullcap, St. John’s wort, passion flower and kava kava. It is brewed and fermented like beer, and then the alcohol is removed to 0.5 percent by volume and the flavor is diluted. Soma Herbal contains about 70 calories per bottle.
The company is marketing the product as a relaxation beverage, similar to alcohol, but in a non-alcohol form. In addition to being brewed like beer, it is packaged like beer in 12-ounce glass bottles. It is available in Herbal and Lemon-Herbal flavors, and will retail for $6.99 per six-pack.
There actually are some impressive non-alc beers (under .5%) on the market, if you consider how hard it is to impart flavor while either removing alcohol from thin wert or using some secret process that almost always strips body and taste. (Alcohol does provide an important part of the body sense in a beer, along with hops, melanoidins, unfermented dextrins… yada, yada, yada. But only highly technical forms of “yada.” Chuckle.)
St. Pauli’s NA isn’t bad: about as “malty” as one gets. I’m guessing Vienna malt and/or a bit of Munich. (“About as malty” except a few of the slick, almost always black, non-alcs we get from mostly South America that are like slightly diluted malt extract, only worse. I actually like to spoon out the extract with my finger once I’ve placed the rest of it in the boiler. Hmmm… tasty! Those non-alcs? A overly sweet “Yuck” applies.) The best one I’ve had is Clausthaler… very hoppy, for a non-alc. Kind of distracts you from the lack of anything else that these NAs often suffer from.
O’Douls is water. The darker O’Douls is brown water. Never a good addition when your base is tasteless to begin with. Do they use any actual dark malt here? Can’t taste it. I really don’t want to know where the “brown” comes from.
Here’s an alternate view on O’Douls…
Steve: I sampled this at T&A’s, a strip club in New York State, a juice bar chock full of whores, strippers, and the stench of lives wasted and money poorly spent (aka The Stench of Whores). And since it’s full-nude, there is no alcohol (a good thing, since the whores would undoubtedly take you for even MORE money), so you must settle for water, soda or O’Douls. All in all, not bad, so if you want to look at whores dancing while sober (you, not the whores…the whores are probably hopped up on goofballs), this will accompany such debauchery nicely. (8/14/2004)
And a LINK.