PEI’s Upstreet Brewers Turn Skeptics Into Fans With Their Non-Alcoholic Craft Beer
CHARLOTTETOWN — When Mitch Cobb and Mike Hogan of Upstreet Brewing said they wanted to start brewing non-alcoholic beer some people were skeptical. Libra is the pair’s brand of non-alcoholic beers that they say turns skeptics into fans.
Their most recent release is the Libra Hazy IPA, which sold out in a week and a half.
“All those preconceived notions that they have quickly disappeared and they just want more,” said Cobb.
Cobb and Hogan started looking into nonalcoholic beers about two or three years ago when they saw the market growth in Europe and noticed a change in themselves too.
“After being in the beer business for three or four years, I know myself, personally, kind of living the lifestyle of someone who owns a brewery and a number of restaurants, was feeling sort of out of shape physically and mentally,” said Cobb.
“I still wanted to go out for dinner, I still wanted to go out and do all the things that I typically did, but I just didn’t want to consume alcohol,” said Cobb.
They weren’t the only ones who felt that way. A whole demographic, led by millennials and Gen Z, was in a similar situation.
“People are choosing not to drink alcohol for a whole host of reasons,” said Cobb. “That may be for a day, it may be for a week or it may be for a lifetime. But they still want to be able to go out and do the things that they want to do,” said Cobb.
After realizing this, they got to work developing their non-alcoholic craft beer.
“Some larger brewers might use some sort of de-alcoholization process to remove the alcohol either through heat or distillation but we took a different approach,” said Hogan, the man behind the brew.
They wanted to brew their nonalcoholic beers the same way they brew their alcoholic beers. It took two years of pilot batches to find the right recipe.
“Alcohol actually adds a lot of flavour for beer, so trying to fill in those gaps with hops or malt character took a long time to come up with that fine balance,” said Hogan.
“[We] finally came up with a recipe that we were super excited to share, that captured the true craft beer flavour profile but didn’t have any of the alcohol and only had 30 calories,” said Cobb.
The Libra Pale Ale has a lot of the same body and characteristics as a classic pale ale. For their most recent launch of the Libra Hazy IPA, they didn’t have to start from scratch.
“Hazy IPAs are known for tropical and citric-type flavours so once again we really wanted to use American new world hops that have really strong crunchy flavours that craft beer fans would be expecting,” said Hogan.
Hogan and Cobb are still the owners of Upstreet Brewing, which sells craft beers, craft sodas and vodka seltzers.
“If our mission really is to truly refresh the community then we need to be inclusive of the entire community and provide options for everyone,” said Cobb.
“We are going to be sponsoring the 506 music festival so Libra will be available to anyone who is attending that music festival,” said Cobb.
More Hazy IPA will be available to purchase on July 16th.