Never Fear; Gluten Free Beer is Here!
By: Katie Lampkin – Outreach Coordinator at Udi’s Gluten Free Foods
St. Patrick’s Day is coming up—and what is more Irish than a tall, cold glass of green beer? Well coincidentally Celiac Disease; Ireland has the highest incidence of it in the world—so nothing is more Irish than gluten-free beer! In order to help you make the momentous decision of what beer to dye green this St. Patrick ’s Day, we trekked far and wide through blizzards and blue-sky 70 degree days here in Denver (in the same week mind you!) to find you the best gluten-free beers out there.
There are two different types of gluten-free beer on the shelves right now; those made with gluten-containing grains (most often barley) that remove the gluten through proprietary processes – these will be referred to as ‘gluten-removed beers‘ – and those made with naturally gluten free grains (like sorghum) referred to as ‘gluten-free beers’. So, on to our list:
Please note: this list is non-exhaustive, and some gluten-free beers that the author is not (yet) aware of may have been accidentally left off the list.
Gluten Free Beers:
- New Planet: Pale Ale, Blonde Ale, Raspberry Ale
- Dogfish Head: Tweason’ale
- Bard’s Tale Beer Company: Bard’s
- Lakefront Brewery: New Grist
- Anheuser-Busch: Redbridge
- Green’s: India Pale Ale, Lager Dry Hopped, Discovery
Gluten Removed Beers:
- Widmer Brothers: Omission Pale Ale, Omission
- Lager (10ppm)
- Brunehaut: Amber Ale, Blonde Ale, Blanche Ale
- Green’s: Premium Pils, Golden Ale, Exported Lager Lite, Blond, Dark Ale, Amber
- Estrella Damm: Daura (3ppm)
As much as we would love to have taste-tested all of the above beers, time and space constraints prevented it—so we’ve chosen two beers from each category to try. Our panel of beer tasters included both craft-beer aficionados and myself, a Celiac who loved beer prior to the diagnosis.
Gluten Free Beers
New Planet Blonde Ale (previously known as Tread Lightly Ale)
Appearance: Light golden hue, clear, medium level of effervescence. Not much head.
Taste: Crisp, light, and tangy, with a refreshing finish. In the vein of traditional, lighter American beers.
Pairings: Best with lighter meals like chicken and salads, fish, and even sweet and spicy foods like a mango salsa or Thai sauce.
Dogfish Head Tweason’ale
IBU: Not given
Appearance: Rosey-amber hue, medium effervescence.
Taste: Light, fruity, tangy, with hints of honey (though not very sweet). Refreshing: a good summer beer. If there is such a thing as a dessert beer, this would be it. It is similar to Lambic, though not as frothy.
Pairings: Great with lighter foods, like fish and salads, and saltier ones, like nuts. For dessert, try it with fruits and dark chocolate.
Gluten Removed Beers
Widmer Brother’s Omission Lager
Appearance: Satisfying golden hue, in between a Light lager and an American lager in color.
Taste: A true beer drinker’s beer, this lager has the traditional head, with a rich, warm barley taste, even-keeled bite, and an aromatic, hoppy finish. You would be hard-pressed to tell that it doesn’t contain gluten.
Pairings: Both spicy Latin American and Mexican dishes as well as lighter foods like spring rolls and salads.
Brunehaut Amber Ale
IBU: Not given
Appearance: Lovely coppery amber with a good head.
Taste: This is a classic amber ale taste that will tickle your St. Patrick’s Day fancy. It is deep and smooth, with a wonderful nutty, malty finish.
Pairings: Perfect for all things grilled and BBQ, chili, and any food that is rich and aromatic.
So which beer was the winner of our taste test?
Omission Lager! It is the most true to a gluten-containing beer, and it would pair well with just about anything. And I really like lager-style beers, so that probably swayed it a bit too. New Planet came in second, because as a true gluten-free beer, I’m not afraid of a gluten reaction if I happen to have a couple of bottles this Sunday. All of these beers were chosen because of their taste profiles and variety, and they were all wonderful.
So go out, grab some beer and green food coloring, and have a great, gluten-free St. Patrick’s Day!