Gluten Free beer review (part 1 of 2)… New Grist, La Messagere Blonde and Rousse and Glutenberg

When my wife first told me about her gluten intolerance, I did what most people did 3 years ago, when gluten was just at the eve of its revelatory diagnosis for many people who thought they been suffering from IBS, I misunderstood everything about it. I remember looking for gluten free bread in the artisan bread section of my local grocery store; couldn’t find any. Turns out getting fresh gluten free bread only happens if you’re lucky enough to live next to a hip bakery that bakes fresh gluten free bread and sells it to you for 8$.

It’s been almost 3 years now and there’s nothing I’ll buy without checking the ingredients and questioning cross-contamination. I understand the mechanisms that make for gluten intolerance (Gluten’s attack on the intestine as well as the symptoms) and I understand how important cross-contamination is. Turns out my wife Lisa is a true gluten-intolerant, one with celiac disease. I’ve seen her cramping up and getting fever from gluten ingestion and it usually upsets her for 2-3 days.

Nowadays, many actors follow a gluten-free diet to lose weight or as a dietary choice designed to complement their work-out regiment and let’s face it, it’s bull… First, it makes waiters roll their eyes at my wife every time she mentions her gluten issue; some look at her as if she’s a Hollywood starlet following a trendy diet. Second, because many establishments consider the diet a trendy life-style diet as opposed to a necessity, they don’t put a whole lot of effort in making their kitchen a gluten-free facility where there is no cross-contamination. That being said, there is one way to tell if someone is celiac and that’s their beer choice. I’m joking of course. Gluten free beers aren’t that bad, here are 4 of 8 gluten free beers, my next post will conclude on the other four.

Last, gluten free products and recipes don’t automatically mean organic or even healthier. Lots of gluten free foods are as bad as your average bag of commercial cookies. Ingredients you can’t even pronounce find themselves on top of the list of many, many, gluten free products. Stop assuming the gluten free diet is a healthy choice. Although some may debate it is; the majority of gluten intolerant connoisseurs will agree that gluten free products can be as bad as non gluten free products (like pasta, cookies, bread, deserts…). When one is truly gluten intolerant, you chose the lesser of two evils and that’s what Lisa does every time she eats.

That being said, for months now, I have bought gluten-free beers and, along with my wife, we’ve given them a try. At last, here is my extensive enough review of gluten-free beers.

  1. Lake Front Brewery’s New Grist
  2. Micro-brasserie Nouvelle France’s La messagère Blonde
  3. Micro-brasserie Nouvelle France’s La messagère Rousse
  4. BSG’s Glutenberg Blonde

Next post;

  1. Green’s Discovery
  2. Bard’s Tale Dragon’s Gold
  3. Nickel Brook’s Gluten Free Beer
  4. Anhauser-Busch’s Red Bridge

New Grist:

This is the first gluten free beer my wife and I ever tried. New Grist is the first of its kind AND the first to get certification in the U.S.A. and there’s something to be said about that. Gluten-free beers have mushroomed since and many claimed to have surpassed New Grist, as a consolation to Lake Front Brewery, I assure you that the same can be said about GF cakes, breads and pastries. Everything gluten-free tastes better today than it did just 3 years ago. New grist however, holds up to the competition. Is it king of its market segment? It’s debatable, a matter of individual taste.

It is made with; sorghum, rice and hops. It pours a light color and has very little head, something I quickly noticed with most gluten-free beers. The smell is that of green apple slices, rice and some grain.

The taste however, is a little too much like the smell. The rice gives it a sake taste but the green apples make it too tart and the grain is nowhere to be found. There is a healthy sweetness that make up for it and a healthy alcohol kick. The finish is watery. Overall, it’s not a bad beer.

Price: 12.85 / 6x 355 ml

Beer type: GF beer

Alcohol/Vol.: 5.7%

Brewery: Lake Front Brewery

Country / Region: Wisconsin, USA


La Messagère Blonde

Although New Grist claims to be the first of its kind, for some reason, La messagere seems to have been around forever. I’ve always seen it around and at times, even considered trying it, unaware that it was gluten-free until now. That being said, it’s been around since 2003.

Micro-brasserie Nouvelle-France are quite proud to state that they “use the method of assay Elisa to determine the presence of gluten. This process is internationally renowned as a very precise measurement” and that adds credibility to their efforts but the taste is what needs work.

La Messagère, pours like a ginger ale but with less fizz. The head is limited and dissipates real fast. The smell is metal-like, sulfuric, fruit and buckwheat. I thing the first thing la Messagère get’s criticized for is its lack of taste vs. its strong smell; the two compete with every sip. Watery, watered-down cider and tasteless are some of the comments that came to my mind for me, as well as many beer reviewers. It was rated as high as New Grist on one web site but quite frankly, New Grist is better. Actually, Micro-brasserie Nouvelle France’s La messagère Rousse is better than this one. The one ingredient that comes up is buckwheat, which isn’t the best wheat to be associated to. Needless to say the feel was watery, thin.

Price: 16.05 / 6x 341 ml

Beer type: GF beer

Alcohol/Vol.: 4.7%

Brewery: Micro-brasserie Nouvelle France

Country / Region: Quebec, Canada


La Messagère Rousse

Personally, I prefer this version over their Blonde. It pours like a rousse beer; red, thicker, with better head. Not a great amount of head, but better than many GF beers. The smell is debatable, some like it, some not. I do. Not that the smell is outstanding, but at least it has one. One that gives off fruits, grain, rice, sugar like molasses and even some nutty aromas but overall, it’s too strong a smell. The taste, like the smell, is better only because it has content in comparison to their Blonde. Is the content good? Ah, that’s the important part… The molasses comes through along with rice and some sweetness, the tart and sourness leaves you uncertain; it works with some sips yet disappoints with others, by the end of the beer, you’ve had your share. Overall it’s better than most GF beers and the feel is less watery but the problem with gluten free beers is that none so far can or ever will be session beers.

Price: 16.05 / 6x 341 ml

Beer type: GF beer

Alcohol/Vol.: 5%

Brewery: Micro-brasserie Nouvelle France

Country / Region: Quebec, Canada


BSG’s Glutenberg Blonde

New on the market of gluten free beers, BSG, which means Beer without gluten in French, opened their brewery in 2010. If celiac disease is a true concern then you might appreciate the fact that this brewery is the only one in Canada with a gluten free facility meaning zero cross contamination certified. Their brewery is without a doubt an admirable vocation, but their beer, having been on the market for only a couple of years, has proven to be somewhat difficult to get outside of Quebec and not too many people seem to be aware of their product. BSG also brews a Rousse, an American Pale Ale and a #8 which is made from 8 ingredients… I’ll have to try this one soon (wink wink to BSG ;).

Their Blonde pours a pale yellow with okay head and comparable retention. The smell of the beer is that of hops, lemon rind and some sweetness from corn. This beer is made from a Millet base which is a refreshing change from other gluten free beers that are often based on rice, sorghum and buckwheat. The millet made for a mild taste with grainy notes and corn grist. Although there is a hint of corn, lemon and saltiness don’t allow for much sweetness and ads a well balanced amount of bitterness. The feel is light, thin and slightly too watery but that’s also the nature of gluten free beers. It’s worth a try.

Price: 6$ bar price.

Beer type: GF beer

Alcohol/Vol.: 4.5%

Brewery: Brasseurs Sans Gluten (BSG)

Country / Region: Quebec, Canada

In conclusion, folks, if you’re celiac then I hope this part 1 of 2 of gluten free beers will help you. If I were you, I’d stay away from regular beer review site for they are written by beer enthusiasts who are not there to endorse anything out of the ordinary spectrum of beer ingredient. Don’t bum yourselves out, gluten free beer is a challenge, what you need to do is find the best of the limitations, find a beer the way a coffee amateur would look for the best instant coffee. It’s not the ideal coffee, but it works.


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