With a growing interest in low- and no-alcohol drinks and wellness beverages, Hoplark HopTea has arrived just in time to quench the thirst of IPA fans looking for a non-boozy alternative. The Boulder company is producing additive-free teas brewed with hops like a beer, only without the alcohol or gluten.
Founder Dean Eberhardt says he was fifty pounds heavier than he wanted to be, had tried every diet on the map and was in the midst of a thirty-day hiatus from alcohol. On day 25 he found himself at a brewery, where his friend ordered a double IPA. “I gave it a smell, and thought, 'Why couldn’t we make something that gives this experience, without the alcohol?'” Eberhardt recalls.
The craft-beer enthusiast and homebrewer realized it was the experience of hanging out at a brewery with friends that he missed even more than the beer itself. After eighteen months of perfecting a drink, Eberhardt launched Hoplark at the South Pearl Street Farmers' Market, with no real expectations other than wanting to share something that he was happy to drink himself.
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The initial feedback for the effervescent tea was enthusiastic. “It’s impacting people’s lives,” Eberhardt notes. His goal isn’t for customers to think of Hoplark as a non-alcoholic beer, which could carry the stigma that something's missing from the brew. Instead, he wants it to be the quirkiest tea on the market, there for people who like hops but might want to take a night (or more) off drinking.
There are currently six different Hoplark flavors, with names reminiscent of Friends episode titles: the Green Tea One, brewed with Mosaic hops; the White Tea One, made with white tea and Lemondrop and Simcoe hops; the Hoplemousse One, which adds grapefruit to the White Tea One; the Calm One, a caffeine-free chamomile tea with Citra hops; and the Lemony One and the Really Hoppy One, both brewed with Simcoe and Citra hops and black tea. The lemon and grapefruit versions contain thirty calories in each 16-ounce can, but the others are all calorie-free.
Eberhardt's love of the taproom experience led him to open the Hoplark taproom at 3220 Prairie Avenue in Boulder, where tea lovers can drink the flagship brews as well as experimental flavors such as a green tea brewed with whole-cone Magnum hops harvested from an organic hop farm in Boulder. Despite the company's short time in existence, the tea has already won the Winter 2018 BevNet New Beverage Showdown and the Best New Ready-to-Drink Beverage from the 2019 Natural Foods Expo West.
The Hoplark HopTea taproom is open every Friday from 3 to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. You can also find Hoplark at Whole Foods Markets and at several Front Range breweries. Visit the Hoplark website for a list of vendors carrying HopTea, or call 303-996-7541 for other details.