Philip Brandes doesn’t need to inform of us the right way to stay their lives. He simply desires them to have entry to nice beer — even when they don’t drink alcohol.

Brandes didn’t have any expertise within the beer world when he started brewing non-alcoholic beer in his storage in 2015. A former software program programmer who labored lengthy hours alone in entrance of a display screen, he says he might really feel that his chosen occupation was killing him — figuratively and actually. When a detailed buddy started consuming non-alcoholic beer after battling alcoholism, Brandes determined to place his analytic expertise to work by discovering the right technique for making it. A 12 months later, he filed to type an LLC, and Bravus Brewing Firm grew to become America’s first completely non-alcoholic craft brewery.

In 2016, Bravus expanded out of Brandes’s storage right into a 1,400-square-foot manufacturing brewery in Santa Ana, Calif. Then, in mid-2020, the brewery expanded once more — this time, right into a 23,000-square-foot facility in Anaheim’s Platinum Triangle neighborhood, lower than a mile from Angel Stadium and big-name breweries Golden Road and Karl Strauss. Since then, Bravus’s year-round manufacturers have earned shelf area at Whole Wine shops throughout the nation.

Brandes attributes a lot of his brewery’s success to the standard of the beer, which is made utilizing a proprietary brewing technique. He’s additionally ventured into ultra-limited beer releases, producing the world’s first non-alcoholic bourbon-barrel-aged brew, Gravitas, which medaled on the 2019 Nice American Beer Pageant. Final 12 months, amid the Covid-19 pandemic and a shopper market in search of healthier choices, Bravus noticed a 300 % improve in direct-to-consumer sales.

Whereas NA beer competitors are concentrating on athletes or others trying to replenish electrolytes, savvy beer drinkers will discover Bravus’s branding to be nearly indistinguishable from an everyday craft brewery’s. That’s as a result of, in response to Brandes, the viewers is solely “anybody who desires a beer.”

1. Earlier than beginning Bravus, did you ever see your self working in beer?

By no means. I didn’t even give it some thought. However once I regarded to alter careers, I noticed how a lot enjoyable my brother was having. He was a gross sales rep for a neighborhood brewery and [part of his job was] driving to varied breweries and tasting new beers. Everybody was all the time cheers-ing and consuming, and I might see everybody was having a bunch of enjoyable. So, I assumed, I need to do that, too.

2. What’s Bravus Brewing Company’s mission?

As you recognize, there may be such a stigma surrounding not consuming alcohol, to the purpose the place it may be fairly alienating in a social setting. I had a buddy who would whisper to the waiter and order O’Douls, then flip the bottle promptly round when it arrived on the desk in order that the label confronted him, stopping others from realizing he was consuming a non-alcoholic beer. It was that awkwardness, together with the truth that non-alcoholic phase has consisted of poor-quality selections, that gave me the inspiration not solely to launch, however actually take it to the following degree by creating an ultra-rare, limited-release beer that was not solely extraordinarily pleasant, however one thing you can exhibit.

I believe the mission is to offer somebody one thing that tastes like a beer, appears to be like like a beer, seems like a beer, and permits them to slot in with the remainder of us. We wish individuals to have a beer they are often pleased with, not embarrassed by.

3. Is there a beer that Bravus Brewing Firm makes that finest illustrates who you might be and what you do?

One summer season, I got here up with this loopy concept to try the world’s first non-alcoholic bourbon-barrel-aged stout and launch it to our clients across the holidays. This isn’t a straightforward feat as a result of barrel growing old usually imparts fairly a little bit of alcohol to the product. After plenty of testing, I developed a technique that didn’t impart alcohol. I took it a step additional by creating an opulent bundle round it, and actually making it a labor of affection.

And so, “Gravitas” was born, named after our company entity, Gravitas Brewing Firm, LLC. The product is really craft beer: It’s brewed in a small batch, hand-bottled, hand-labeled, and hand-capped, all by me. It’s an opportunity for me because the brewer to essentially join with our clients and provides them one thing they will proudly show on their desk. Facet notice: I imagine it grew to become the primary non-alcoholic beer to be traded amongst alcoholic beer aficionados!

4. What goes into Bravus’s brewing technique that makes it so completely different from different NA breweries?

What makes us completely different is that we simply don’t have plenty of alcohol manufacturing with our course of within the first place. Most non-alcoholic brewers take an precise beer and filter out the alcohol, however whenever you take an alcoholic beer and burn off the alcohol, you’re burning or filtering out all the flavour and aroma — all of the issues that make the beer style good. I believe whenever you begin placing stuff in and eradicating it, it’s like a chef taking components out of a dish. We’ve developed a course of that mimics alcoholic craft beer manufacturing as a lot as doable. There’s plenty of mental property round it, and we’re nonetheless studying new stuff about it every single day, however I’ll say that we don’t vacuum distill, we don’t take away the alcohol, and it’s not arrested fermentation. It’s only a utterly distinctive manner of brewing that, on the finish of the day, produces some fairly good beer.

5. A rising curiosity in “better-for-you” brews has brought on plenty of manufacturers to pivot into the non-alcoholic beer class — Samuel Adams, Lagunitas, Budweiser, and Heineken, to call just a few. Prior to now 12 months, has Bravus modified to deal with rising shopper curiosity in these beers?

Sure, and no. I believe the idea of NA nonetheless type of confounds individuals, particularly [with] macro producers coming into the market. We’ve all the time maintained that, in the long term and to combat off competitors, it needs to be about two issues: taste, which we’ve everybody beat on; and model, which might be the toughest half. However there’s simply a lot need to have high-quality, small-batch choices, and that’s what we do. We made that alternative a very long time in the past and haven’t actually pivoted away. In the long run, these more-of-the-same macro beers aren’t going to final.

6. What do you consider the pattern towards “better-for-you” beer?

I don’t assume it’s a pattern. That is what it’s. Folks need and demand more healthy drinks. The times of sugary sodas and high-calorie meals, I believe these days are near being over. And that’s a wise factor. That’s a great factor. And I believe individuals must be conscious of what they do, however not on the sacrifice of style. That’s the trick. I’m impressed with plenty of these choices now which might be coming into the area. So, I believe it’s nice and right here to remain.

7. The place do you see this phase going subsequent?

Even “better-for-you” isn’t actually good for you. I believe shifting in that course is nice, so it really turns into a good-for-you class that has some well being advantages to it. And that’s what’s so nice about us. There’s nothing actually horrible about our merchandise, and there’s plenty of actually nice issues in NA craft beer, like polyphenols and sure nutritional vitamins. So, I believe it’s a great factor to go in the direction of.

8. What else is Bravus doing that’s completely different from different completely NA breweries?

I’m enthusiastic about simply being a beer for beer drinkers. I don’t need to be a restoration drink or a Gatorade or a Purple Bull. I believe individuals need a beer. And it’s humorous, as a result of buyers and advertising individuals don’t like beers that enchantment to everybody, proper? They need you in a field. However I type of like the truth that we’ve such a various market. I’m not right here to inform you what to do, so in order for you a non-alcoholic beer, I imply, hey, decide this up.

9. What’s your long-term imaginative and prescient for Bravus?

The non-alcoholic area and better-for-you area is de facto sizzling proper now, so I believe utilizing our applied sciences to have a look at another alternatives, like spirits and wines and issues like that, can be nice. I really feel like we are able to simply do such a greater job at making these through the use of the expertise that we’ve developed. However there are additionally plenty of cool issues that NA beer can do this alcohol can’t. You’ll find niches, just like the army, meals vans, issues like that. We’re perhaps increasing sooner or later to the Center East, as a result of there’s an enormous marketplace for non-alcoholic beer amongst the Muslim inhabitants [there]. There are all these cool little alternatives forward that I’d like to discover.

Ed. notice: This interview has been edited for size and readability.

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