John Walker was tired of O’Douls dominating the non-alcoholic beer space, so he made a challenger. The head brewer at Athletic Brewing Co. and fellow cofounder Bill Shufelt homebrewed hundreds of batches of what became their Golden Ale to perfect their zero-ABV brews. Instead of using macrobrews as a reference, Walker entrenches himself and his brewery firmly within classic American craft styles. That experience informs Walker’s own tastes. From classic American Pale Ales to boundary-pushing bourbon barrel-aged stouts, here’s what he drinking nowadays.

Favorite Everyday Beer: Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Pale Ale

ABV: 5.6%
Beer Style: American Pale Ale
Availability: National, year-round
“Just an all-time favorite: full flavored, balanced, complex sessionable classic that is as consistent as it gets. This was my true introduction to quality suds — the beer I drank with my dad as opposed to the garbage my sisters’s peers brought over in college. He would throw one back after a run and then give me a couple sips and yammer on about how refreshing and nutritional beer can be… you know, before carbs were a curse word. It is still perfect and is still the gold standard for quality.”

Grail Beer: Avery Brewing Co. Tweak

ABV: 14.7%
Beer Style: Bourbon barrel-aged coffee stout
Availability: Limited, seasonal
“It is just obscene: huge, alcoholic, toasty, coffee, bourbon, warming and absolutely delicious. Perfect to drink on dark winter nights or with your laser-building-applied-mathematician-friends (my introduction to the beer). A level of complexity that most brewers can only hope to attain in a full and fruitful career. Think fur coat, fire, chocolate sauce and some heavy metal. If you can find one, get it.”

Best Beer You Drank Recently: Second Street Brewery 2920 IPA

ABV: 7.3%
Beer Style: IPA
Availability: Local, year-round
“It is the brightest and most refreshing IPA out there — super pale yet complex pils malt character with a wild, diesely, tropical, oily goodness from an incredible portfolio of Northwest and New Zealand hops. My friends and mentors at my old stomping grounds are killing it with this SoCal-inspired IPA. It is a perfect example of how to utilize non-traditional ingredients to create a super unique product in a market saturated with amazing competition. Perfect for those beautiful New Mexico mountain sunsets.”

The Beer That Changed Things for You: La Cumbre Brewing Co. Elevated IPA

ABV: 7.2%
Beer Style: IPA
Availability: Local, year-round
“It was one of the first craft IPAs that made me realize you can marry traditional ingredients, new school techniques and a load of passion to refresh and elevate classic styles. One of the best IPAs ever.”

Why Coors Banquet Is the Perfect Everyday Beer


Since 2012, Nick Nunns of TRVE has made beers that aim to go “beyond the pale” (a fancy way of saying it’s not just IPAs), and his own tastes run the spectrum from classic macro-lagers to Belgian-style icons. Here’s what he’s drinking nowadays. Read the Story

Ryan Brower serves as a Project Coordinator for Editorial Operations and also writes about beer and surfing for Gear Patrol. He lives in Brooklyn, loves the ocean and almost always has a film camera handy.

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