One of the signs that led to my figuring out that wheat/gluten were making me sick is that I would feel terrible if I had beer the night before, so clearly something was in it that was irritating my stomach. So beer went out with the wheat, and I have been sad ever since. Cider just isn't the same (although, there are some tasty ones).
So when our friend D (who also has discovered that gluten is a problem) let us know that he had purchased a plethora of gluten-free beers, I was excited, almost giddy. I had recently read this article discussing gluten-free beer possibilities, and I wanted to try them for myself. We gathered together to try them. What we discovered, however, is that most beers brewed without barley are not good, at least not in the way that we're used to thinking about good beer. Sad.
1.) Omission Lager
As the NPR article I linked above points out, Omission is not 100% gluten-free because they brew with barley, then remove much of the gluten using an enzyme. For folks like me who aren't super-sensitive, you won't notice the effects of the bit of gluten that remains. However, if you're very sensitive, I would avoid this one. It will be one that I would happily purchase and drink.
2.) New Planet Off Grid Pale Ale
3.) New Planet Tread Lightly
4.) Lakefront Brewery New Grist Beer
5.) Green's Endeavor Dubbel Dark Ale
|D is angry and disappointed.|
We had been crushed and disappointed by all the beers, so by this point, we weren't expecting much. When we poured this one out, we noted the nice appearance, and when we lifted the beer to drink, the aroma that greeted us was better than the Endeavor, subtle. It was definitely sweeter than a normal beer, but it wasn't horrible. D pointed out that it had a cider flavor, and if you think of it in terms of cider, it definitely isn't too disappointing. As I kept drinking it, it got better. The finish was definitely that same sorghum sweet-flavor that doesn't belong in a beer. I might drink it again, but I'm unlikely to seek it out.
7.) Green's Amber Ale
Wearied by our tasting efforts, we poured the final beer out. Once again, we noticed how pretty it looked. I sipped, and was delighted by the delicious bitter. Yes? Maybe? Then...the sorghum sweet flavor crept in and destroyed it. As D pointed out, "it's good...if you don't stop drinking." As we continued to sip, I noticed that it definitely improved, and seemed to be a solid and passable beer. Out of the three Green's beers we tried, it is probably the winner. While I might not seek it out over the other beers that I preferred (the Omission and the New Grist), I would drink it again.
Overall, the beer tasting was interesting and educational. I figured out that part of the problem is that D and I actively drank good, quality beers, and so we have that standard in mind, which simply cannot apply to GF beers. They are a completely different beast. So while most of the beers were a little disappointing, perhaps they were only disappointing if you are/were a beer enthusiast.
We found much to critique about these beers, and I can only hope that as people experiment with recipes and brewing techniques that the beers will improve. L, D, and I all decided that we wanted to take a stab at making our own to see if we could potentially find a way to attain a drinkable beer that didn't have the overwhelming sorghum taste. Because sorghum does have a lot of sugars to brew with, it's obvious why it's a popular choice for brewers. For us, however, the sorghum was the ingredient that left a bad taste in our mouths and a desire for something decidedly more beer-like. Perhaps we can find a way to make that happen.