I love beer. I don’t really understand wine, but I do like beer. Since I limit my gluten, gluten free (or gf) beer is a nice option.
Gluten free beer isn’t all that easy to find. Often, you can find Red Bridge at the supermarket, and Redbridge and Bard’s at the “natural food store.” Personally, I like Redbridge, but that’s coming from someone who likes the taste regular ol’ beers, like Corona and even the occasional Bud Light, so take that for what it’s worth. Of course, I do prefer more robust beers, but [almost] every beer has a spot in my heart.
Last week, I attended a “health practitioner” meeting held in the tasting room of the local wine superstore, Total Wines & More. It was a gathering of personal trainers, nutritionists, wellness coaches, healthy cooking experts, and more. I’ll leave all the holistic news and nutrition and fitness gossip to future writings, because today is all about the beer.
Below, eleven beers are ranked by taste and value to me, which makes things entirely subjective. I originally meant to review ten beers,but I discovered a new one (Brunehaut Amber Ale) at Yard House, last weekend, since it’s one gf beer that’s readily available, I thought it would be good to toss it into the mix.
By the way, Galya has tasted all of these, right along side me. In every case we agreed on whether to finish it or pour it in the sink. 😉 There were one or two in the middle that were in question, and those aren’t worth drinking, anyway.
#11 New Planet, Tread Lightly Ale
Ale made from sorghum and corn extract.
This “beer” tastes like medicine. It’s so nasty that we poured it out. It’s bitter and astringent and nothing can save it.
Beer made from sorghum and millet.
It’s hard for me to call this beer. It’s horrible stuff. Bitter and angry, medicinal and herbal. Yuck.
#9 Fox Tail Gluten Free Ale
This beer is in a can, and it does not say what grains are used to make it. It’s also EXTREMELY bitter, to the point where I almost didn’t finish it. If you really like bitter beer, this might be the one for you.
I hesitate to call this one nasty, since some people might really like bitter. I wouldn’t buy this again, but I did finish it.
#8 The Glutenator
Brewed with sweet potato and molasses.
I had high hopes for this one, because it’s in a huge bottle and the idea of being made with sweet potatoes was intriguing. Instead, it tastes pretty nasty. ” Cidery, but not in a good way. Bitter.
“You’d really have to want beer to drink this,” said Galya. Only it doesn’t taste much like beer…
#7 New Planet, Off Grid Pale Ale
Ale made from sorghum and brown rice extract.
It might have helped that this followed “The Glutenator,” but this one DOES taste like beer. It’s a little bitter, but in a good way. If someone poured this for me, I wouldn’t guess that it’s gluten free, I’d have to check to be sure. Good beer. Hearty taste, and I’d buy it again.
The original sorghum malt beer, it says on the label.
Bard’s seems to be the second most common gf beer out there. It’s 1.5 to 2 times the price of Redbridge, but it’s worth it if you like the taste. It’s good beer that tastes like beer. It tastes different than Redbridge, but I wouldn’t say it’s better.
Redbridge is the most mainstream of all the beers that we reviewed here. It’s available at most of the mainstream supermarkets. I like it, and it’s priced very similarly to Corona, Blue Moon, etc. I don’t think people who only like beers like Coors or Bud Light would love this one, but if that’s all you had at a party, they’d knock ’em all back.
Redbridge is made with sorghum and corn syrup, if you’re interested, plus hops and water. Redbridge is made by Anheisur
#4 Estrella Damm Daura (not made with gluten free ingredients)
This lager is made from traditional barley malt, after which the gluten is removed. There are less than 6ppm, and it carries the international gluten-free symbol, although it doesn’t say as much in words. Still, gluten is less than 6ppm, but that may be 6ppm more than some celiacs can take. Drinker beware.
Note that there is another Estrella Damm that’s normal beer and looks the same. Look for the large name “Daura” on the label for the gluten free version.
This beer is great beer, although it is a lighter style of beer. It’s great on a hot day and is very refreshing. I would buy this on a regular basis if Total Wines & More wasn’t so far away.
#3 Brunehaut Amber Ale (not made with gluten free ingredients)
This is a fine Belgian ale. This ale is made from traditional barley malt, after which the gluten is removed. It’s not marked as gluten free because labeling laws in Belgium don’t allow beers produced with gluten containing ingredients to be labeled as gluten free. Still, gluten is less than 5ppm, but that may be more than some celiacs want to risk. Drinker beware.
#2 New Grist
“A crisp and refreshing session beer,” so says the bottle. My friend Tom, a great resource on all things beer, tells me that a session beer is a beer that can be sipped throughout the night. In other words, it’s lite in the alcohol department. That’s fine by me, although others might like a bigger kick.
The beer is made from sorghum and rice extract. It’s finely carbonated, and extremely crisp and refreshing. It smells like cider, but does not taste like cider. It’s a little reminiscent of a kristal weizen bier from Germany, from the crispness to the fine bubbles in the carbonation.
I’ve had this beer before, so I was excited to see it at the store. I liked it then, and I like it now. This is a good beer, gluten free or not. I liked this one well enough to buy a few more bottles when I went back for more gluten free beers to taste.
#1 Green’s Tripel Blonde Ale
Millet, buckwheat, rice, sorghum, hops, and yeast. It comes in a large bottle (16.9 oz), and is often available in brew pubs that cater to real beer aficionados. Even at the store, it’s expensive, and one beer runs you more than a six pack of Redbridge.
The label is interesting, as it says it does not contain wheat, barley, crustaceans, eggs, fish, peanuts, soya beans, milk, lactose, nuts, celery, mustard, sesame seeds, sulfur dioxide, and sulfites. Good to know… Makes me wonder about the other beers, which do not make this claim. Hmmm…
Green’s is really good beer. It’s an aficionado’s beer, and is right up there with the craft brews and high end imports that are savored, sipped, and analyzed like one would a fine wine.
I ranked it number one, although I would say it wouldn’t be most people’s daily drinker (not that you should drink beer every day, anyway).
Bonus — Spire Draft Cider
A “Dark and Dry”cider, made with molasses and brown sugar.
This cider is very beer-like, even with the expected apple taste. Most ciders are very sweet, and those that aren’t are sour. This is neither, with only a slight sweetness. In a pinch, I think beer lovers would really enjoy this cider. It’s not very sweet or sour, it’s got a lot of bold flavor, and it’s thick and rich in the mouth.
Gluten Free Selections
The gluten free section at the beer and wine specialty stores keep growing. Whether you have Celiac disease or are just gluten intolerant, it’s good to know that you have options. …and some of them are nasty.
Let us know if we left off your favorite, or if you disagree with the review!
Edit – For more gluten-free beer reviews, see this later post.
Roland & Galina