These days, us gluten-free folk have a number of safe beers to choose from, so I thought I might do you all a favour and review a few of them for this magazine issue (and don’t worry — it was a fun day at work for me as well). Here were a few of the ones I sampled… and of course my humble, meandering opinions about them.
*I also employed a few friends to help me—one of whom was not gluten-free. (They were more resistant to helping me move but were surprisingly available the evening I invited them over to sample and discuss gluten-free beer—on my dime. Huh.)
La Messagère Aux Fruits:
What the company says: “Capped with a naturally pink foam, this ale avoids all in transparency of a deep garnet colour. Of delicate sweetened tang, this refreshing beer reveals the natural freshness of the fruits and balances its high content of buckwheat and rice malt.”
What we said: I said it wasn’t too too sweet (for a fruit beer) but my friends said it was definitely on the sweet side of town… so we differ there. We all said it was a great beer for summer, though! And we thought it might be better served on ice, so we got crazy and tried it ourselves… and… AWESOME.
WoldTop Against the Grain:
What the company says: Made from lager malt, maize, hops and yeast, it is a premium full flavoured bitter beer with a good creamy head, refreshing bitterness and citrus aftertaste.
What we said: I have a thing for IPA’s—in a big, bad way—so this had a head start for me the moment I read the label. We agreed it had a nice mouth feel (that’s a beer tasting term I learned at YYC Beerfest this year). The non-GF taster of our group said it reminded him of Driftwood or Red Racer (non-GF IPA’s that are apparently awesome) so if your non-GF friends are into those beers, this is a good alternative if you’re looking to share a six-pack.
Mikkeller “I Wish” IPA:
What the company says: A super hopped up American Pale Ale, designed, not just for the gluten sensitive, but for all beer fans alike.
What we said: Sigh… another IPA. Delish. This one was different though! A lot more citrusy. It felt less “IPA-ish” to me (no, that’s not an official beer tasting term… I made it up) but on a hot summer day… heck yes, I would enjoy one.
Glutenberg American Pale Ale:
What the company says: Most likely the first gluten-free beer in the world that presents such a hopped character, our American Pale Ale is the true flagship of Glutenberg beers. Its citrus and caramel notes, coupled with a mild bitter finish, come together in perfect harmony.
What we said: This is “your standard lager”, said my free-loading friends. It’s a little bitter. It’s a wicked patio beer (this seems to be a trend… could it be that we all just love beer, any beer, on a patio?). My favourite quote about this one was: “It’s the kind of beer you can drink 20 of. Like… if you’re playing beer pong, and you’re GF, this is your beer.”
What the company says: It pours a brilliant gold colour, with a bubbly head and light, fruity aroma. The flavour is crisp and refreshing, fruity and smooth at the same time. Hints of green apple slice through the maltiness of the sorghum, making this an extremely quaffable beer.
What we said: This beer was “yeasty”, we said. (It was also our last beer of the night, as we thought the word “yeasty” was a terrific descriptor.) Our non-GF friend said it reminded him of a Hefeweizen and we all agreed it would be great with a lemon or an orange. This one kind of reminded us of sake… probably because it’s a rice beer! (Fun fact.)
So there are a few ideas for you. Patio season in Calgary may be dwindling to a close (you just never know with our weather here) but beer always finds a place in our lives in Alberta. Or in Canada. Or maybe this is a worldwide phenomenon.
This piece originally appeared in Amber Approved Magazine, September-October 2015.
Please note: The Canadian Celiac Association’s official position is that beers which are made from barley and have gluten ‘removed’ via an enzyme are not safe for people with celiac disease. Find out more here: https://theceliacscene.com/cca-update-barley-containing-gf-beers/