Archive for the 'Gluten-Free' category
As you’ll know from yesterday’s post, we at SevenPack have charged ourselves with trying to find any available gluten-free beers to review, as a friend of SevenPack was recently diagnosed with Celiac disease and will be charged with drinking these for the rest of her days! For Jamie’s sake, I hope there are some good ones. Fortunately, the first of the batch, New Grist from Lakefront Brewery, was actually quite good. And, to be honest, this is the only other offering I’ve been able to find at the local beer store thus far. So, if any of you readers know of other options available in the US, let us know! Or, if any of you suppliers out there want to send us a sample of your latest gluten-free option, we’ll be happy to review it and tell the folks where we got it from – just e-mail me at ben(at)sevenpack.net.
Forgive me for being a bit wary of this one. After all, it is from Anheuser-Busch, and we tend to shy away from most A-B offerings here at SevenPack. However, I do believe that folks can change, and beggars can’t be choosers when it comes to gluten-free beers. So, I’m going into this with an open mind. The pour of this is significantly darker than the New Grist. It is a dark amber, almost brown. Again the head of this isn’t dense at all, and looks almost soda-like with big, burly bubbles. The aroma here is pretty bland – you can catch a light sweetness peeking through an aroma that is otherwise much like cardboard. In the mouth, the first sensation is a brown sugar sweetness on the tip of the tongue that then moves to a bigger, more cloying sweetness around the middle of the tongue that floats into the aftertaste. This sweetness is obviously from the sorghum that comprises most of this beers fermentable sugars. It’s a syrupy dark sweetness that blends with a papery malt flavor (yes, I meant ‘paper’ not ‘pepper’) that I suppose is trying to emulate the actual malt in a grain-based beer. Overall, I think this beer tastes much more artificial than the New Grist. It has a greater level of sweetness, and the sweetness tastes like it’s trying to mask what is, underneath it all, a worse beer. However, it is a nicer looking beer in the glass, and it does more closely emulate an amber ale. So, if you’re drinking for appearance sake or you just really like darker beers, this might be the one to go with. However, if you’re looking for what is overall a better beer, I’d recommend the New Grist.
Recently, a friend of SevenPack was diagnosed with Celiac disease. This, for those of you who don’t know, is a disease that renders the person unable to ingest anything with wheat gluten. If this doesn’t sound rough to you, then you don’t realize that wheat gluten is in almost everything that hits your plate. Okay, I’m not being totally fair, Celiacs can eat any meat or veggie. However, it happens that almost all breads, sauces, marinades, pastas, cereals, desserts, and (sadly) beer contain wheat gluten. This makes it very difficult to eat out, and it quickly makes the Celiac an expert on cooking at home and knowing ingredients of various foods. Again, worst of all, it means that it’s difficult for the Celiac to drink, as the very nature of beer means that it contains wheat gluten. Fortunately, Celiac disease is beginning to gain a higher profile in the US and abroad (especially in the UK, where there is a higher percentage of Celiacs). Thus, we are beginning to see more restaurants offering gluten-free menus, more packaged foods at least acknowledging whether they are or are not gluten-free, and (best of all) more brewers brewing gluten-free versions of beer. I know a fair bit about Celiac disease, as it actually runs in my family. Fortunately, however, I have tested negative for the disease – if it had been otherwise, then this blog would contain about 3 entries instead of almost 500. Nevertheless, due to the situation that our friend, Jamie, now finds herself, we deem it necessary to delve into the world of gluten-free beer so that, if nothing else, we’ll know what she’s drinkin’.
The New Grist pours a light and clear orange-yellow color. There isn’t any head to speak of, and the carbonation is much less dense than most beers. Rather, the bubbles are large and almost soda-like. I’d wager that this is a result of the modified carbonation process as this must either be naturally carbonated via the yeast’s reaction with sorghum and rice (instead of traditional grains) or artificially carbonated via direct CO2 injection. The aroma of this isn’t terribly pungent or terribly definable. It’s quite generic with a light sweetness, almost reminiscent of a ginger ale, only with a subdued sugary note. In the mouth, this initially tastes quite smooth and doesn’t have any major bite. Across the tongue, some light sweetness develops that then blends into a slightly herbal note that reminds me slightly of a cold green tea. There is also a slight CO2 flavor that I’m picking up, which makes me believe that this probably is artificially carbonated. All in all, it’s not bad. It’s easy-drinking and quite refreshing and would probably make a good session beer, depending on the ABV, which isn’t listed. I’ve had much worse beer than this, and I would definitely choose this over any of the major domestic brews. It’s obviously a bit neutered when compared to more adventurous normal brews, but it does taste smooth and refreshing and well-balanced – much better than I expected, to be honest.