When participating in a Dry January challenge in 2019, Scott Pearce and Robb Shurr came to a shared conclusion—there wasn’t a non-alcoholic beer available that satiated their desire for craft beer. That realization provided inspiration for Itsa Lika beer, which launched May 2021.
In order to create that hoppy profile that both Scott and Robb desired, they collaborated with a friend who had been the pilot brewer at Sierra Nevada Brewing Company for 15 years.
“He started experimenting and playing around, and the guy is just a wizard,” Robb says. “He basically came up with this new process for brewing a [non-alcoholic beer].”
Their main challenge is retaining the fullness of the flavor profile.
“You lose some of the body because of how the grain bill is set up, so that’s something that we’re trying to overcome,” Robb says. “You just don’t get that thickness and the richness of that body. All NAs are, some people describe it as, a bit thinner.”
Their non-alcoholic beers are the Super Crisp and West Coast Style IPA. Robb says the Super Crisp is true to its name in taste and is something that you could drink in two gulps. The West Coast Style IPA is more citrus-y, with more west coast hops, but according to Robb is still very crisp and light.
While neither Scott nor Robb has a background in beer or brewing, they’ve found that makes space for curiosity and innovation.
“That’s definitely been the biggest [challenge]—the whole industry is new to us,” Robb says. “At the same time, that allows us to come in and ask really stupid questions and try to improve things… we’re definitely eyes-wide-open learning mode and also trying to do things in different ways.”
Scott and Robb hope to serve the sober-curious movement, but also hope Itsa Lika could serve as a “third beer,” meaning someone could substitute an Itsa Lika brew instead of stopping drinking entirely.
Robb has found in his own experience that drinking Itsa Lika feels overall much lighter on the body.
“As soon as it feels like a real beer, you don’t miss it,” he says. “You’re not seeking that third beer or afternoon beer. I’m out at the shop tuning bikes and skis on a Saturday afternoon and I’m like, ‘Boy, I could use a beer.’ I grab one of these, and I’m perfect. I don’t need to take a nap.”