Is that beer Gluten Free?

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By Kerry Cyganiewicz

Seven times this weekend, I heard someone ask if a particular product contained gluten. Whether it’s because of allergies or lifestyle choices, people are looking for gluten-free alternatives to everything. I have assembled a list below of gluten-free beers that I wholeheartedly endorse that can all be purchased locally.

A word of caution: “Gluten free” is defined in different ways. In the European Union and the United States, a beer must possess less than 20 parts per million to be labeled as such. Other places, such as Australia, define “gluten free” as having no detectable gluten at all. If the difference is important to you, I recommend that you research the actual amount of gluten through the individual brewer.

Green’s Gluten Free Beers, Dry Hopped Lager 4.10% ABV
If you tend to lean towards mass-market lagers, this would probably be the most similar. It pours a familiar pale yellow with a small head that disappears quickly. There is an aroma of citrusy hops and sweet grain. It tastes as it smells, with a slightly sweet beginning and an almost bitter-free citrus and pine-hoppy finish. It was well carbonated. This surprised me; it was quite enjoyable and set the bar high for the other gluten-free beers I was to drink.

Sam Adams/Brewery Rickoli, Oats McGoats American Stout 6.5% ABV
This is a low-gluten beer. The Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream Brewing and Business Experienceship annually provides one craft brewer with hands-on brewing and business coaching. This year, it was Brewery Rickoli from Colorado. Rickoli brewed a stout with rye and oats as the primary ingredient. It is currently only available in select bars in Denver and at the Sam Adams Boston Brewery. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a bottle. It poured a very dark brown with a luscious two-finger head that lingered. It smelled of roasted coffee and a dark chocolaty sweetness. It tasted like a well-made stout with a roasted coffee and chocolate taste and a lingering finish. Usually, rye beers have an overly spicy or peppery taste to them, but this one was smooth.

Dogfish Head Brewing, Tweason’ale 6.00% ABV
It is no secret that I am a fan of Sam Calagione and the way that he crafts unusual beers that you can’t help but enjoy. This one is brewed with sorghum, strawberries and buckwheat honey. The head appeared quickly and disappeared just as fast, leaving a ring that lasted until the end. The smell was of strawberries, sweet wine and overripe seeded fruit. It tasted of strawberries, citrus and a slight sweetness. The finish reminded me of drinking soda water. If you like fruit in your beer or are a wine drinker, give this one a try.

Windmer Brothers Brewing Company, Omission Pale Ale 5.80% ABV
I tried this beer on the recommendation of a coworker. This beer is a little different from the rest, as it uses barley with the gluten removed. Last I checked, the company cannot claim that the beer is gluten free, but it has a reduced gluten content. The beer poured a clear bronze color, with a two-finger head that lingered throughout the experience. It looked and smelled like a good pale ale with a slightly sweet malt backbone and a citrusy hop aroma. If you handed me a glass of this, I wouldn’t guess that it was a reduced-gluten beer.

Lakefront Brewery Inc., New Grist Sorghum Beer 5.75% ABV
This offering poured a pale yellow with a small head that lingered. There was some lingering lace down the glass to remind you that this was, in fact, a beer. It smelled sweet and tasted sweet. There was a slight sourness that contrasted nicely with the sweet molasses-like taste. It had the liveliest carbonation of the bunch. This is similar to the Green’s Lager, with less of a hop presence.