Nat Watson: I think it's hugely exciting to see a non-alcoholic beer brand just as passionate about beer education as a traditional brewery. Setting aside the time to educate all staff on the fundamentals of beer's flavours, styles and service is a clear sign of the business’s commitment to quality. And hopefully, by the end of our training, not only will everyone on the team have a better understanding of where Lucky Saint sits in the current beer landscape, they’ll also have more confidence in describing what different beers taste like and how they’re best stored and served.
(Wondering how to best care for your Lucky Saint at home? Keep it cold and properly pour it into a “beer clean” glass. And if you’re not sure what makes a glass “beer clean” …ask the team!)
LS: How did you first get into beer?
NW: The story’s pretty simple really: back in the early 2010s good friends introduced me to good beer, I thought the flavours were fascinating, and from there, I set out to learn everything I could about it! Now, 10 years later, I'm an Accredited Beer Sommelier and Advanced Cicerone®, beer educator, beer judge, host of the 'Beer with Nat' podcast and author of Beer: Taste the Evolution in 50 Styles. (Yes, I like to keep busy!) But the best bit is, I know I’ve still got lots more to learn, as there’s always something new to discover about beer.
LS: In your book, you detail 50 styles of beer. What is the weirdest and most wonderful variety you've found?
NW: I think that title has to go to gose, a German wheat-based mixed fermentation beer brewed with added sea salt and coriander seed that dates all the way back to the Middle Ages. It's probably about as far from what most people think of as beer – a pale lager – as we can get! This style is brewed with traditional brewer’s yeast plus lactic acid bacteria which gives it a sour, Greek yogurt-like tang that combines with the beer’s doughy malt base to give a flavour reminiscent of sourdough bread. Then the coriander seed introduces a lemony, herbal freshness and the salt gives a mouthwatering tingle that helps to tone down the tartness. Lots going on! Most versions these days are brewed with added fruit or fruit syrup, but to give the traditional style a taste, try Riggerguts Gose or Leipziger Gose from Germany or check out Lost & Grounded's yearly gose release, Find Your Road.
LS: What is it that you like about Lucky Saint?
NW: Well, to put it simply, I like that it tastes delicious! It's my go-to non-alcoholic lager. I think the mouthfeel of Lucky Saint really separates it from the pack – it's got more body than most no- and low-alcohol beers, meaning that it can handle a bit more bitterness and doesn't end up tasting sweet. It's a flavourful and refreshing lager… without the booze.
LS: What is your favourite dish to pair with our lager?
NW: I haven't actually experimented with any beer and food pairings yet (all I've paired it with so far is another Lucky Saint!), but the fact that the beer is alcohol free opens up more pairing occasions that beer isn't normally on the table during – like breakfast. I think Lucky Saint could pair really nicely with a stack of fluffy American pancakes with maple syrup and bacon on top. The bready and grainy-sweet malt flavours will match up with the same flavours in the pancake, while the beer's bitterness and bubbles will help to cut through the sweetness of the syrup and the fattiness of the bacon. If anyone beats me to putting this pairing to the test, feel free to tag me on social and let me know what you think!
LS: What part has luck played in your journey?
NW: I've taken a leap of faith in my career three times now and, well, luckily for me, they’ve all worked out! After I finished graduate school (in public health of all things!), I moved to New York City without a job. Once there, I found a great role at an organic baby food company in marketing and communications, but what had an even bigger impact on me was the city’s beer scene. A few years later as my passion for beer only continued to grow, I took another leap – across the pond this time – and moved to London to pursue a career in beer. After getting my start behind the bar at Mother Kelly’s, landing the role of UK marketing manager at Duvel Moortgat, and gaining a few beer qualifications along the way, I leapt one more time to set up my own business as a beer educator… and here I am doing what I love, day in and day out. Thanks to a passion that drives me, purpose in what I do and, yes, a little bit of luck!
LS: A book, a podcast, a beer school - what's next for Nat?
NW: I really do believe that beer is simply too delicious to remain undiscovered, so I'd love to help bring beer – and beer education – to an even broader audience. This year, I've set my sights on hosting more talks, tastings and maybe even finding some TV presenter work, too. Whatever platform I can use to help share my knowledge of and passion for beer, I'm there!