Gluten-Free Beers: A Taste Test

Beer, Beer & Cocktails, Drink, Gluten-Free

This post comes courtesy of Jen Villareal, a member of the Williams-Sonoma catalog team.

 

Staying gluten-free during Oktoberfest gotcha down? Have no fear – my gluten-free beer blog is here!

 

When I found out I was gluten-intolerant over a year ago, I was fairly devastated. Even though I knew I’d feel better going gluten-free, I immediately thought about all the things I’d miss – homemade pasta, flour tortillas, fresh bread, pancakes and waffles, cookies, muffins, cake. And beer. I love food and baking. And I love beer.

 

I love everything from Guinness to Fat Tire to New Castle to Corona to random Belgian beers I can’t pronounce. My husband brews his own and he got my dad into it, so I’m constantly surrounded by delicious, complex, refreshing home brews. And I can’t drink it. So what’s a girl to do? Find gluten-free beers, of course.

 

Gluten-free beers are made with any combination of sorghum, millet, buckwheat and/or brown rice. The only gluten-free beer I’d heard of before going gluten-free was Red Bridge, made by Anheuser-Busch, which frankly, tastes like a not-quite-as-good Bud. Once I started looking around for other options, I was able to find eight completely different gluten-free beers (and more are being developed all the time).

 

Six of these eight seem to be fairly accessible around the United States, so those are the ones I decided to profile. I’m not a beer connoisseur, so forgive my lack of official beer-tasting terms, but hopefully you’ll try these brews for yourself!

 

Estrella DauraThis is the only gluten-free beer my husband (the brewer, mind you) tried and said, “Huh, this is good, I’d totally drink this.” It won the “World’s Best Gluten-Free Beer” award two years in a row and with good reason. A great pilsner that’s light but with good flavor, it’s my favorite go-to if I want something consistent and refreshing.

 

Made by: Estrella Damm, Barcelona, Spain; alcohol content: 5.4%

New GristA close second in my mind to Daura, New Grist has a slight aftertaste of cider, without the sweetness. Another great pilsner-style beer, it seems to be a little easier to find than Daura, as it’s made here in the states.

 

Made by: Lakefront Brewery, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; alcohol content: 5.7%

St. Peter’s “G-Free™” Sorghum BeerSt. Peter’s produces excellent “regular” beers in their English brewery, but their sorghum beer is another great pilsner-style lager. A little sweeter than Daura and New Grist, it has hints of citrus, making it a great summer beer. And due to its low alcohol content, it can almost be considered a session beer. I especially love the bottle and the fact that it’s more than a full pint.

 

Made by: St. Peter’s Brewery, Suffolk, England; alcohol content: 4.2%

Bard’sFounded by two celiacs, Bard’s Tale Beer only makes this gluten-free beer. The craft brewery claims they’ve made “America’s first gluten-free sorghum beer and the only beer brewed with 100% malted sorghum.” With a medium body and low bitterness, it has a beautiful caramel color and aftertaste of the same. Bard’s is easily one of my favorites so far.

 

Made by: Bard’s Tale Beer Company, Minneapolis, Minnesota; alcohol content: 4.6%

New Planet Tread Lightly AleAnother completely gluten-free beer company, now brewing three varieties (including a delicious 3R Raspberry Ale I just enjoyed this weekend and the Off Grid Pale Ale I have yet to taste). Their Tread Lightly Ale is similar to Bard’s, but a little smoother.

 

Made by: New Planet Gluten Free Beer, Boulder, Colorado; alcohol content: 5%

Green’s Discovery Amber AleWhile Green’s also offers a lovely Dubbel Dark Ale and a fantastic Tripel Blonde Ale, the most commonly available is their Amber Ale. With a beautiful color appropriate for its name, Green’s has the most robust flavor in my mind and has been the easiest to find so far. Another bottle of more than a full pint, it also has the highest alcohol content.

 

Made by: Green’s Gluten Free Beers, Lochristi, Belgium; alcohol content 6%

 

For those of you in the Midwest, I have to suggest trying the Sprecher Mbege or Shakparo gluten-free ales. Mbege is brewed in the East African–style using sorghum and millet with bananas, and Shakparo is West African–style also using sorghum and millet but with a hint of cider.

 

About the author: Jen loves all things food, wine and entertaining, having grown up with an amazing cook & incredible baker in her parents. After finding out she was gluten-intolerant over a year ago, she’s been adapting her foodie lifestyle to fit into her new health requirements. She loves the restaurants of the Bay Area and trying new food on her travels. Jen’s a sucker for tweed, the slide guitar, a good story, really chubby babies, summer lightning storms, her husband’s cooking and The Big Lebowski.

17 comments about “Gluten-Free Beers: A Taste Test

  1. charlie cindric

    Did you know that scientific tests can only confirm if beers et al have <5 ppm of gluten? Brunehaut has introduced the first top fermented gluten free (<5ppm) Belgian beers and they are great having won Gold and Silver at the recent U.S. open beer competition. They will begin distribution in the U.S. next month.

    Reply
  2. Rachel

    This was so helpful! I was recently diagnosed and was also devastated when I thought of never drinking my beloved beer again!! I am looking forward to trying all these!

    Reply
  3. Bryan

    I’ve tried most of the beers you tested. My favorite is Estrella Daura. I do like Green’s Amber, but it is too expensive.

    I was very happy to see that my local BevMo has two shelves dedicated to gluten-free beers. I think they stock all of the beers that you tested.

    Reply
  4. Jillian

    We are able to find all of these at our local BevMo, which is great!

    I personally find the ones that are meant to be a lager (Daura, Bard’s) are better than those intended to be the ales (St.Peter’s, Green’s, New Planet). Gluten makes up the unfermentables that give beer body, so gf beers are invariable thinner than you would expect. But that is reasonable for lagers, which are fermented at lower temperatures, where the solids tend to fall out of solution, so are naturally thinner. When I drink a gf ale I am always sad about the lack of body.

    You should ask your husband to brew you some gf beer! You can get sorghum extract from brew supply places, and rice syrup from natural food stores. You can even sprout raw buckwheat and roast it for specialty grains.

    This is a good round-up of existing beers, and I hope we see more variety in the selection as well as new developments in gf beer fermentables/unfermentables…

    Reply
  5. Jill

    I’ve tasted all three of Green’s, plus Bard’s, New Grist, and St. Peter’s, and I have to say that Green’s GF beers are my fav. I’ve been buying them at Whole Foods, but now that I know BevMo! carries them, I’ll go there. Thanks!

    Reply
  6. Ed McGrath

    I have a new beer for you to try! Brunehaut Belgium Gluten Free Beer.

    Brewed from organic Barley grown by the Brewmaster! The Gluten is removed from the grain. Blast year it won a Gold and Silver at the US Beer Open for the Best Gluten Free Beer
    The beer will be available in the US very soon
    Ed

    Reply
  7. Greg

    I’ve been punished for my previous life’s raging, unapologetic beer snobbery by learning of my gluten intolerance. I’m also intolerant (though less clinically) of poor beer, so it’s been hard for me to stomach most GF so-called beer. I haven’t tried Estrella Daura yet, but I’d rate the others in the following order: New Planet, Green’s, New Grist. I won’t buy Bard’s or St. Peter’s, though I’ve occasionally not refused them; meanwhile, the rest still don’t quite nail “beer” for me, but I’ll buy a bottle or two a year. I’m dead curious to try the new Dogfish Head attempt.

    Reply
  8. Young Coeliac

    Hi mate,
    your blog is so cool.

    I’m a coeliac guy too, and I have a beer project supported by some friends here in Italy, facebook.com/birrasenzaglutine

    It’s so sad that new grist, bard’s and new planet beers are unfindable here, in Italy. :\
    I’m also a collector and I wanna taste them all! :)

    Keep in contact! :)

    Reply
  9. John

    Just a note: You write: “Gluten-free beers are made with any combination of sorghum, millet, buckwheat and/or brown rice.”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but Daura uses wheat. They extract the gluten later.

    Reply
  10. tom

    The “de-glutened” beers which start w/ barley (Daura & Brunehaut) still make people w/ Celiac Disease sick, btw. The testing wasn’t designed for this application & gluten protein fractions (hordein for barley) remain undetected.

    Reply
  11. cecil

    I have had New Planet twice and will never again. It is not gluten free. I was misserable both times and assumed the first time couldn’t have been caused by the beer but the second time confirmed it was infact the New Planet. Awful experience

    Reply
  12. Erica

    Yes! Finally. I was so excited to find a woman reviewing beers who isn’t a huge beer snob who complains about these beers not having any taste. New Grist might be my new go-to beer and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard it how terrible it is . You should try Two Brothers Prairie Path. It’s phenomenal, but from a smaller brewery based in Illinois, so I would try to find it if you can!!

    Reply
  13. ao cuoi

    If you have a style story idea or tip? Chaozhou is the world’s largest underwater wedding on July 17 off the coast of Elba Island, Italy, but only got 205 total.

    Reply
  14. Oktoberfest Gluten Free | Gluten Free: The Celiac Site

  15. Gluten-Free Drinks! 21+ | theglutenfreetwentysomething

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *