Gluten-free beers review (2-2)


First of all, my apologies for the wait. Next time I commit to a two-part review I’ll make sure the complete review is written ahead of time yet published in two segments.

There are two things I wish I brought up on part 1 of my review, the first is the underlying layer of metallic notes that often tarnish some of the beers in what would otherwise be a decent beer category. Second, even the lowest alcohol level kicks you in the jaw as you go on drinking it. They are the unfortunate by-products of gluten free beers but make no mistake, the stuff is drinkable and as brewers continue and explore the art of gluten free brewing, they are striving towards what will soon be a beer category that will hold its own.

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Green’s Discovery

Unlike other gluten free beer, I found this one had a significant amount of head. Head at last 😉 It poured a murky orange with a red hue and retained its head for a much longer time. Its smell was somewhat complex, not so much in a good way. Hints of fruity wine-like flavors mixed with millet, malts and some hops.

The taste however made up for its identity crisis in smell. Although it had a light carbonation, the taste was quite good. Better than many gluten free beers that lack… love. Its roasted grain, hops and fruity flavors completed a taste that made many other gluten free beers seemed tasteless. Overall, it’s pretty safe to say that this is one of the better one. But Green’s doesn’t stop there, they have a few other gems worth trying and I have made it my mission to hunt them down and try them all.

Price: 8$

Beer type: GF beer

Alcohol/Vol.: 6%

Brewery: Green Brewery

Country / Region: UK

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Bard’s Tale Dragon’s Gold

I was excited to find this beer at the LCBO and it’s been on shelves there ever since, so if you’re looking for a new gluten free beer to try, get it now, while it lasts.

The Tale Dragon poured nice clear bubbly amber but left very little head. Its aroma was a genuine sign of sorghum and included a fair share of fruity notes from apple cider to prunes or plums. This beer was put together and brewed by celiac brewers and the passion shows. It shows as much in their web site as in their beer. Is it the best gluten free beer? Not necessarily, I’ll let you decide, but in my opinion, they are off to a great start. The taste was a pleasant surprise, it was not fruity yet its sorghum attributes didn’t make it boring. A caramel flavor consistently came through and made for a pleasant consumption despite the little metallic presence found in many gluten free beers. The sorghum flavor and feel offered a creaminess taste yet, interestingly enough, the beer had a good, light feel with good carbonation. Conclusion: if you’re looking for a gluten free beer that is more grain oriented and less fruity, this beer is a good try.

Price: 2.85

Beer type: GF beer

Alcohol/Vol.: 4.3%

Brewery: Bard’s Tale Brewery

Country / Region: NY, USA

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Nickel Brook Gluten Free

Nickel Brook’s Gluten free beer is more like a “gluten free alcoholic beverage” as they prefer to refer to it. It’s not a fraud, it feels, it looks and tastes somewhat like a beer. Heck, it’s even canned and branded much like a beer. My wife, a certified celiac, prefers this one over the others the most. There’s a small catch, but very forgiving, this beer is actually a mix of sorghum, demarara sugar and pear juice; pear juice being the key word here. Is it a cider? No. Is it a beer, more so, but not quite, so I will call it a hybrid beer product and cider, which is the safest thing I can come up with to sum it all up. It earns its place within the beer category because it is brewed like an ale beer and is balanced with hops the way a beer would.

It poured a light yellow color with, again, very little head. The smell was that of vegetables, pear, hops and some grain. The taste of the beer was quite similar to its smell. Pear, vegetables, caramelized grain, some hops and an unfortunate metallic hint made this beer almost perfect. Overall, it was a good beer and continues to be one of my wife’s favorite. The feel is medium light with good carbonation.

Price: 2.95 / 475 ml

Beer type: GF beer (American Blond Ale type)

Alcohol/Vol.: 5.8%

Brewery: Better bitters Brewing Company

Country / Region: Ontario, Canada

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Red Bridge

First of all, hats off to Anhauser-Busch. I’ve been hard on them in the past (Michelob) but when I see a large size brewer giving a shit about celiac, I recognize it and acknowledge it. There you have it, done. Now that I’ve given them flowers, here comes the pot; duck. I don’t think this beer is horrible but sorghum unfortunately, tends to be bland compared to wheat. It is a grain that can be used to make syrup but overall, it tends to absorb taste more than contribute to taste. So, when used as a sole ingredient without much else, it results in a bland tasting beer. Safe keeping the integrity of sorghum by making it the main ingredient is not so much a wise choice.

That being said, Red Bridge poured a light yellow color with guess what… very little head and practically no lacing to offer. The aroma was that of caramelized grain, some sweetness and some hops. The taste is where I was disappointed. I wish there would have been a little more depth, more layers, yet instead, it was bland with few flavors of grain and sweetness. The alcohol level being only 4% didn’t offer anything sexy and by the time I was done drinking it, I was refreshed but not fulfilled. One good thing; not too much of a metallic or tangy taste, which isn’t surprising given the overall taste being what it was.

It has a thin volume with good carbonation and goes down easy.

Price: 8.99 / 6x 355 ml

Beer type: GF beer (American Amber)

Alcohol/Vol.: 4%

Brewery: Anheuser Busch

Country / Region: Missouri, USA

Conclusion…

What I have come to accept in gluten free beers is that the smell is not a fair indication of the taste or even a pleasant ceremonial step in the enjoyment of a gluten free beer. Pour it, look at it then drink it. Kind of like a good sausage, don’t question it, just “enjoy” it. Last but not least, I repeat myself but I think it’s important, a gluten free diet means compromise at the expense of your taste buds. I don’t know if one day one will get to enjoy a gluten free Porter, or Pilsner the way a non-celiac does, but it’s getting better. The best way to find your “brand” is to explore them and find one that meets halfway between your expectations and the worst denominator that you’ll discover along the way. Read blogs on gluten free beers that are written by celiacs NOT beer amateurs, they’ll only bring you down and make it sound like someone’s been pissing in your beer.

Enjoy, Cheers!

5 comments

  1. Nice Reviews!

    I have three categories of GF beer:

    Never Again: Nicklebrook, New Grist

    If I Must: La Messagere, Bard’s, Dauma

    Not Bad: Glutenberg Blonde, Green’s, St. Peter’s

    • Hi Aaron, thanks for your comment, check out the blog in a couple of weeks… I’ll be reviewing 3 fantastic Glutenberg beers, an Imperial Sotolon, an IPA and a Belge Saison… No one does GF beer like these guys

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