All Reviews
>

Run Wild IPA Review

Run Wild IPA

A solid “daily driver” IPA that faithfully represents its class of beers in non-alcoholic form

NON-ALCOHOLIC

Tasting Notes

Nose

A little malt, lightly floral/piney hops, super small whiff of tropical fruits.

Palate

Lemon, light mango, tiny hint of melon. Moderately sweet malt backbone — not overbearing, but present. Hop bitterness hangs out but doesn't bite

Finish

Floral, piney bitterness. Earthy taste lingers when everything else leaves

By the Numbers

Calories

65 calories/12oz

Alcohol

<0.5% ABV (Non-Alcoholic)

Ingredients

Water, Organic Vienna Malt, Malted Barley, Oats, Hops, Wheat, Yeast

Hops

“5 Northwest Hops,” 2 of which are Citra and Mosaic

If you’re at all interested in drinking non-alcoholic beers, this is a beer to get familiar with.

Athletic absolutely dominates the craft NA beer market in the United States with over 50% market share, and Run Wild leads the charge as their best-selling can. IPAs are also still one of the most popular craft beer styles in the US, so this brew adorns countless restaurant and bar menus across the country as the sole non-alcoholic option amid a sea of regular craft beer options. And if you’re shopping for take home cans, Run Wild has a high probability of being one of only a few craft options available in your store (unless you’re fortunate to have a shop that’s been leaning into the NA boom).

Luckily for us, this beer is not only ubiquitous, but tastes good and drinks like a “real” IPA. Life for modern non-alcoholic beer drinkers could be a whole lot more miserable if the most prevalent craft option everywhere was some mediocre tribute to dirty water and sadness.

Overall, the tasting experience is one of familiarity. Run Wild checks all the right boxes to taste like a good beer and a good IPA, and it doesn’t have any overwhelming red flags that out it as non-alcoholic. You won’t mistake this for a 9% DDH juice bomb from XYZ trendy brewer (and that’s not the point, as we’ll discuss later), but you’ll probably be satisfied with each sip.

What’s in the Can?

Crack a can of Run Wild open, and your nose will be greeted with pleasant floral notes, a little bit of malt, and a little bit of tropical fruit. Just a hint of tropical fruit. Take a sip, and you’ll find a mixture of lemon, mango, and melon. These sit on top of a moderately sweet malt backbone, which balances nicely with the dryness of the lemon, the bitterness of the hops that roll in, and the earthy flavor that leads the body to the finish. That bitterness lingers through the finish, leaning floral and piney as the other flavors fade out (save for that hint of earthiness).  

While the hops deliver some lovely flavors, the malt base is what really stands out to me in this beer. This is the piece of the non-alcoholic puzzle that brewers have been cracking only more recently, and Athletic’s answer is one of my favorites on the market. It tastes full, rich, creamy, and slightly sweet behind the hop flavors of this IPA, and is a great base for this style and many others. 

Which…seems to be exactly what Athletic is doing. Take a look at many Athletic brews, and you’ll see a similar, distinctive list of malt ingredients across the board — Vienna malt, oats, and wheat join the normal malted barley, hops, and yeast in many of Athletic’s standard brews from stout to witbier, golden ale to hazy IPA. They’ve clearly mastered a mix that fills in the gaps of normal dealcoholizing processes, which usually leave run-of-the-mill NA beers hollow and watery. As you’ll see in this review and our reviews of most Athletic brews, the most prominent, consistent strength in their beers is the body of the malt base. They often do a lot of other things really well on top of that, but that malt backbone almost always shines.

A Great First NA

If this is your first craft non-alcoholic beer (which is probably the case for many people), you’ll notice the welcome absence of a few things: wateriness, thinness, and a sickly sweetness. Old school macro NA beers often suffer from this slate of shortcomings, as they typically use simpler recipes for “regular” beer that go through an additional step to pull out the alcohol. The brewers at Athletic have combined a unique grain bill with a mystical, secretive brewing process to produce a rotation of beers that taste damn close to regular beers. To borrow a phrase from everyone’s favorite spreadable butter-flavored vegetable oil emulsion, many people take their first sip and say: “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Beer!”

Every Athletic I’ve had has delivered a robust body, a tight integration of hops/other ingredients with the malt, and a clean finish that doesn’t leave a metallic sweetness in your mouth. If you want to see how good non-alcoholic beer can be, this is probably one of the best places to start.

Any Downsides?

As I said at the top, Run Wild is often still the only craft NA option available at many bars and restaurants. I’ve seen other options start to pop up here and there, but this beer is still everywhere, and most American NA drinkers will probably end up trying it at some point. If you like it or love it, then you’re obviously in luck. The natural consequence, however, is that people who don’t like IPAs or don’t end up liking this beer are a bit SOL for the time being. The industry is booming, and many new players are popping up, but Athletic has an unreal reach comparatively, and will probably continue to for a long time.

Thankfully, I don’t have many bad things to say about this beer. For me, it occupies that upper echelon of NA beers that taste effectively identical to regular beers, and it slots into the better half of that category. It doesn’t have any outwardly negative qualities (off flavors, strange smells, etc.), and I think it would have broad appeal to those looking for a solid workhorse IPA.

Conclusion

If you’re standing in an aisle facing a 6-pack of this and wondering 

“should I give this whole non-alcoholic beer thing a try?” the answer is “yes!” NA beer has been growing in popularity in recent years, but there are still plenty of people that need to try a can of something like Run Wild before they’ll say “oh yeah…now I get it!

I can’t say this is the absolute final word in non-alcoholic IPAs, but saying that as a put-down would be missing the point. Athletic clearly positions Run Wild as a great tasting NA beer that maximizes widespread appeal among IPA lovers, and I believe they nail that. In any creative pursuit, that next-level of achievement usually comes from specialization, breaking a few eggs, and perhaps appealing to a certain niche. Athletic actually takes all of that on, but with other beers like those from their limited-run pilot program. And as the NA IPA landscape is starting to fill in with stiff competition, we can begin to nit-pick the finer details and ask for better and better beers. Athletic Run Wild is a fantastic starting point, and I can’t wait to see how Athletic and the industry builds upon the foundation it has set.

Where Can I Buy Athletic Run Wild?

Athletic’s distribution is second to none in the industry, and Run Wild is their most popular beer, so you can now often find it in bars, restaurants, liquor stores, and grocery stores (including Whole Foods and some Costcos) across the US. However, you will always find the largest selection on their website, and you can even mix and match a case to try other Athletic brews that you’ve read about on Bendy Straw.

We independently review everything we recommend. If you click a link to purchase, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.