Until relatively recently if you were one of the (surprisingly) large number of people who are gluten intolerant or celiac your “decent” beer choices were limited to err umm … wine. The reason being that the traditional ingredients in beer are water, brewer’s yeast, hops and a form of starch, and that's where the trouble starts as starch sources like malted barley or wheat are rich in gluten. I say “decent” beer in the “acceptable standard” sense of the word as of course there were early versions of gluten free beers around but they were, let’s face it, disappointing at best and disgusting at worst (much like alcohol free wine come to that).
Well it’s all changing now as some of the quality brewers of the boutique and craft beer movements around the globe are getting themselves into the game and brewing with starch sources that are very low or free of gluten like millet, rice, sorghum (a grain producing member of the grass family) buckwheat, and corn, and they are getting some pretty damn drinkable results. To prove the point, to ourselves mostly, I set out with my GF consultant who shall remain nameless (Gill) and her equally anonymous non-GF beer appreciating hubby (David) on a mini tasteathon. We started off nicely with a summer everyday “go to” light bubbly thirst quenching lager, Estrella Damm Daura from Spain. Then we wandered down the road to The Beer Boutique in Putney and tried a trio.
Celia a light lager from Czech, a little too light for me and I think the hops tasted sour, maybe needs food to show its best. Next came two very good offerings from Mikkeller. “I Wish” India Pale Ale – citrus aromas and taste with a good hop kick and a satisfying mouth-feel. “American Dream” lager with a nose of sweet malt, corn, citrus, caramel and clove, throw in honey on the palate and a long finish and there you have it.
Last, but certainly not least, a Brewdog Vagabond Pale Ale that I picked up from Hop Burns & Black which I can sum up by saying that a UK beer expert picked it in a line up as one of his three favourites without knowing it was GF – he "just liked it”. Me too …