I apologize ahead of time if the review you’re about to read is accompanied with a hint of frustration but too often, I come across a handful of die-hard beer aficionados who refuse to appreciate a gluten free beer for what it is intended. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that a gluten free beer can’t rival against a NON-gluten free beer, only can we please keep things in context?
A gluten free beer is not out to compete with the rest of the beer world, it is a beer style brewed for people affected with celiac disease so, I couldn’t review a gluten free beer the way I review a Westvleteren or a St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout, I’d be missing the point. When I read reviews that throw gluten-free beers under the bus and bastardize their existence as if such beers are attempting to compete with regular beers, it frustrates. It frustrates me the very same way as when some assume that vegetarians are trying to conquer the world of steak with their tofu. They’re not.
That being said, I only know of one gluten-free brewery that, slowly and quite convincingly, may be the first to close the gap between gluten-free and non-gluten-free beers and that brewery is, Glutenberg (Les Brasseurs Sans Gluten -BSG). One day, unwillingly and unaware, a beer drinker will pop open a Glutenberg beer, drink it and comment on how great a beer it is, yet little will the drinker know or care that it’s gluten free. With Glutenberg, this is possible. Until then, Gluten free beer antagonists must stop trying to convince the world that gluten free beer is the tofu of beer trying to win the battle with regular beers, ridiculous. There isn’t anyone on the web bitching at how pretentious-gluten-free bagels are trying to take over the world of bagel making, it’s the same thing with gluten-free beers, it’s just a different category within the loving family of beer.
I like Glutenberg and I’ve reviewed them before (click here for previous review), these guys are the only ones dedicated to pushing gluten-free beers beyond that of blonde or red ale. They get the importance of experimenting with flavours and different beer styles and it’s fantastic. It’s the only gluten-free brewery that cares about extending the array of the genre and quite frankly, it’s about time. They love a challenge and it shows.
The Glutenberg’s Belgian Saison
Look: Hazy with a healthy amount of head that is extremely surprising for a GF beer
Smell: Coriander, cloves, buckwheat, floral, spicy with peppery hints.
Taste: Wow, what a wonderful surprise. It doesn’t feel nor tastes like a gluten free beer. This concoction is a perfect blend of spices, grains and citrus. It is deserving of a Belgian Saison appellation, no doubt about it. It is yeasty, citrusy with just the right amount of sweetness and bitterness. It’s the very best gluten free beer on the market right now (well, their Sotolon is pretty outstanding as well but because it’s not so much an “adaptation” of an existing beer style but rather a new style in itself, I don’t wish to see the two as brotherly rivals –the same way I won’t say that an IPA is better than a Stout when it comes to Ales). The Belgian spice blend and yeasty quality makes you forget the absence of barley or wheat. When you drink this beer, you find home again, you remember that kiss, her smell her soft skin –so to speak- and come face to face with the possibility that celiac and beer can coexist in a very sexy way.
Finish: As a Saison would, this beer delivers just the right amount of bitterness from start to finish with a medium feel. Although as it got warmer, the last couple of sips were a little reminiscent of the salty aspect of gluten free beers, all ends well given that a 750ml format will warm up when drinking it alone.
Context: For a gluten free beer, this is an outstanding recipe. If you like a yeasty Belgian Saison, this does the job very, very well.
Repeater: Yes (I’m not celiac but if I should ever be diagnosed, this would be my go-to)
Pairing: Fine sausages, soft light cheeses, sweet fruity desserts like apple pie, light Italian pasta or shellfish
Score: 86% (within the GF criteria)
Beer type: Belgian Saison
Brewery: Les Brasseurs Sans Gluten (Glutenberg)
Country / Region: Montreal, Quebec
Photo credit: My wife Lisa took the shot and when our Cat Paco decided to photo bomb it, we couldn’t resist!