Celiac’s A Bitch: Gluten-Free Beer Options To Try
“A gluten-free diet is a diet that excludes gluten, a protein composite found in wheat and related grains, including barley and rye.” – Wikipedia.
I know what you must be thinking. Gluten-free beer? What’s the point? While our favorite brews may be chock full of grains like barley, wheat, and other traditional fermentables, more and more people have been instructed by their doctors to modify their diets — reducing and even completely eliminating gluten altogether. We’re not sure about those who claim to have a gluten-intolerance, but the physical and medical ramifications of one with an intolerance to gluten, as demonstrated in Celiac Disease is undeniable.
Case in point, Celiac’s a bitch.
While I am very grateful to not have been diagnosed with this affliction, I do have a few friends who have had to cut the good stuff out of their diets completely. So let’s talk about gluten-free beer. For the most part, gluten-free beers have gotten a not-so-great reputation. They are often characterized as flavorless or soul-less, you name it. In crowd-sourcing information for this article, I discovered a few brands that have developed recipes that aren’t so bad after all. Here are five gluten-free craft beers the can be good alternatives for you or your loved ones with that horrible dietary restriction. (In no particular order.)
Glutenator by Epic Brewing Company – This is probably the first gluten-free beer I had ever tried. Epic Brewing’s Glutenator is readily available on the west coast in bottles and (rarely) on draught. Brewed with a combination of brown rice, light-bodied millet, and sweet potatoes in addition to hops and molasses, this beer is a more balanced offering with a touch of sweetness in the finish.
Tweason’ale by Dogfish Head – Strawberries and buckwheat honey are the heart of this sorghum-based beer. Dogfish Head has always had a penchance for using creative ingredients in their brews, and this mildly sweet and tart brew is perfect example of how one can tame sorghum’s typical astringency and bitterness to bring a beer we wouldn’t mind sipping pool-side in the summer (but don’t worry, this one’s available year-round & nationally).
India Pale Ale by Glutenberg – This 100% gluten-free Canadian brewery made waves a few years ago after gaining accolades at various beer competitions. Their IPA available in cans, is a standout for the gluten-free category. It’s fresh with hops, has a fair amount of body, and although non-traditional, is quite the crowd pleaser. Their other offerings have also built a cult reputation.
No. 5 by Ground Breaker Brewing (Formerly Harvester) – It’s no surprise that a brewery in Portland,Oregon would develop its business model to bring specialty grain brews to the beer masses. The folks at Ground Breaker have really taken it up a notch with creative uses of fruit, chestnuts, and even lentils in their 100% GF brewery. Their IPA which has seen various iterations, is a fan-fave and some may argue that they’re the best in the world of gluten-free offerings. It’s just a shame that they are not widely available.
Dry-Hopped Lager by Green’s Gluten-Free Beers – Brewed in Belgium, this brewery utilizes ingredients such as millet, rice, sorghum, and buckwheat to produce a rather wide variety of styles. Their dry-hopped lager in particular is something familiar for those looking for some lighter swill. Personally, I found their maltier brews such as their Dubbel a little more interesting. And while I did dig the gluten-free Belgian brew from Brunehaut more, I had to give a shout-out to Green’s for being relatively easy to find in most craft beer retailers in my area.
Honorable Mention: Delicious IPA by Stone Brewing Co. – If we were playing the flavor game, this IPA from Stone would be at the top of my gluten-free list. However, since it’s only gluten-reduced, we’ll leave this here for your consideration. Just know that if you’re not completely in the GF-sect, but need to cut down your intake, this beer is for you. Stone experimented with a new enzyme from White Labs that breaks down gluten — it’s a modern miracle, but the technology is still quite new and we (and they) can’t really call this a gluten-free offering altogether.
So there you have it — in my (very) limited experience diving into some of the market’s popular gluten-free beers, I hope that you (or a friend) can discover a new brew that won’t make your body immediately hate you. Have a favorite gluten-free beer or brewery? Tell us in the comments! Because not being able to drink beer…is the worst.