Red Racer Street Legal Dealcoholized Nitro Stout: Preview Edition


Red Racer Street Legal Dealcoholized Nitro Stout: Preview Edition Review

Here’s a preview of something coming down the pipe that’s rare in Canada: a non-alcoholic dark beer.

For years, the holy grail of “near beer” production has been to remove that sometimes-undesirable alcohol while retaining the desirable characteristics of beer: the flavour, aroma and mouthfeel that make good brews worth drinking. As we wrote in our review of Red Racer Street Legal IPA, Surrey’s Central City Brewers & Distillers seems to have found the magic formula for this, by way of its investment in a very expensive, membrane-based alcohol removal system used mostly by larger breweries.

In our taste test, Street Legal IPA got a good score for a beer in general, and a fantastic score for a non-alcoholic beer. Aside from its obvious hoppiness advantage, the key was its body, which was retained more so than with other N/A beers out there. After trying some craft-focussed but fairly undrinkable N/A offerings from other Canadian and US vendors, we concluded that Street Legal was the only dealcoholized IPA we’d found that we could actually enjoy.

Brewmaster Gary Lohin with a Street Legal IPA at Central City’s Bridgeview plant

In our interview with Central City Head Brewer Gary Lohin at the time, we touched on the fact that a goal remained: to apply this process to other beer styles. For one BeerSeeker, the heart pined for an alcohol-reduced version of what he really wanted to drink: a nice chocolatey stout. So when Lohin mentioned that Central City was working on that exact project, and then provided us with a sneak preview sample, there was much excitment.

Red Racer Street Legal Dealcoholized Nitro Stout is just as it says: stout that’s been brewed, then had the alcohol removed. For this review, we’re scoring this beer against other stouts. That’s to be consistent with how we treated the Red Racer IPA. If we were scoring this as a dealcoholized beer in a field of Non-Alcoholic options, the score would come out much higher.

The ale pours a deep dark brown with a respectable head that lasts longer than expected.

On the nose, there are enjoyable coffee and chocolate notes. The aroma is very pleasant, and probably the beer’s best aspect.

As far as flavour goes, the beer does very well for a dealcoholized dark beer. There are notes of caramel, coffee, chocolate and dark fruit.

Once this preliminary version of the beer hit our palate, the magical promise of a non-alcoholic stout turned to reality. Instead of the full-bodied mouthfeel one expects with a stout—especially one with Nitro in the name—this prelim brew offered a much thinner body.

“I am working on a fuller body still,” Lohin confirms, adding that the dealcoholization is the reason. “I did everything I could to keep the body in the beer,” Gary notes of this first version, “But the reality is that removing alcohol removes body.” If you’re a stout fan, hang in there because Lohin still has some tricks up his sleeve that may boost the body.

Lohin also clarifies, “Nitrogen doesn’t help with body.” Unlike the Guinness cans that will be familiar to some, the physical widget in this beer is not a ball or cylinder that rattles around. It’s a disc that’s stuck to the bottom of the can which releases nitrogen, helping boost that foamy head. “We have to package them with a Nitro drip before the lid, then invert them for 20 seconds for the gas to fill the disk,” Lohin shares. “When you open the can, the pressure differential releases the nitrogen in the widget throughout your beer.”

As for other competing offerings out there, they seem undrinkable by comparison. In fact, we would already recommend Street Legal Nitro Stout over pretty much any N/A beer we’ve had, other than Street Legal IPA.

To conclude: this is probably the best N/A dark beer in Canada, and it’s not even fully developed yet. You’ll find it in the Central City Brewers taproom in Surrey’s Bridgeview neighbourhood. Look for it on shelves in the future—and keep an eye out for a normally alcoholic Nitro Stout from Central City in cans this Fall as well.

Central City Brewing – Red Racer Street Legal IPA

Drinking In Isolation: Cutting Back On Booze, Not Beer

  • (4)
  • (3.9)
  • (2.9)
  • (3.2)
  • (3.75)
    Overall Enjoyment

About This Beverage

  • Colour: Deep dark brown
  • Head Size & Retention: Normal head + retention
  • Carbonation: Nitrogenated
  • Clarity: Clear
  • Balance: More Malty
  • Drinkability: Definitely Drinkable
  • Enjoyment: I would recommend this beer to a friend
  • Malt Characteristics: Caramel, Coffee or Chocolate, Dark Fruit (raisins, prunes, figs, black currants), Toasty/Roasty
  • Palate: Thin


For this review, we’re scoring this beer against other, normal stouts. If we were scoring this as a dealcoholized beer only, the score would come out much higher. This is probably the best N/A dark beer in Canada.

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