Gluten-Free Beer Tasting

Beer Title Card - Nick Drinks Blog

One of my readers (there is one that one, that was the first piece of exciting news) reached out to me about Gluten-Free Beers. Personally, I have had no experience with the category. I have had a need to. If you are a Coeliac, you don’t have a choice unless you want to spend the night in agony.  So what the heck. We got a crew together to taste 12 beers. 11 can be found at Holiday Market in Royal Oak, MI and the remainder (Brunehaut) is a special order. This was brought to the party by our Gluten-Free specialist, Ryan. It was saved for last. The remainder of our crew was myself and two notable beer connoisseurs, Brad & Russ.

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All of us are fans of Untappd, which is a mobile app for tracking and exploring beers. You can also win badges (like Foursquare). If you tagged all 12 beers, you would get at least one level in Land of the Free. While we initially thought this was a Gluten-Free badge, it was actually for American Made Beers. No Gluten-Free Badge in the app, bummer.

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Cheers! I asked the group to rate them on if you would order them in a bar from 1-10 (1 no to 10 yes).  Tasting notes were kept for each of the beers and I’ll present the winners below. Gluten is a key part in beer and it makes for a trickier process to make a good balanced beer with out it.  There were some winners and a lot of losers.  Refer to the first graphic for pictures of the beer bottles.

#1: Estrella Damm Daura
Type: 
Lager
Country of Origin: Spain
Brewery: S. A. Damm
Price Point: $2.09 / 12 oz bottle
Our Average Rating (1-10): 4
Notes: Nick: It’s a light toasty flavor with a bit of hop and subtle bitters. Pretty tart. Ryan: Standard Lager Taste, unlike most Gluten-Free Beers. Brad: It’s Miller Time. Light, crispy, cereal-ish and typical lager. Russ: Good light beer.

#2: Bard’s Sorghum Malt - Easy to Find in Stores
Type:
American Lager
Country of Origin: USA
BreweryBard’s Beer
Price Point: $1.79 / 12 oz bottle
Our Average Rating (1-10): 4
Notes: Nick: Mild Nose, Taste: Sharp, gummy, astringent with a little sweet. Ryan: Smooth Sorghum, Nutty, Slight spicy finish. Brad: More body than typical lager, apple cider vinegar flavor, flat tasteless finish with metallic after taste. Russ: Too metallic tasting, cider vinegar taste too.

Brad - Nick Drinks Blog

#3: Redbridge – Very Easy to Find in Stores
Type: 
Sorghum Base
Country of Origin: USA
Brewery: Amhenuser-Busch 
Price Point: $1.39 / 12 oz bottle
Our Average Rating (1-10): 3
Notes: Nick: Sweet nose both rich and full. Tasted very metallic, stars good but then goes downhill fast. A bit fruity and grainy. Ryan: Slightly sweet and spicy up front then no aftertaste. Very little body. Brad: More body than typical lager, apple cider vinegar flavor, metallic. Tasteless tail. Russ: Very metallic taste. Smells ok. Really not good. More sweetness.

#4: New Grist Pilsner Easy to Find in Stores
Type:
Rice/Sorghum Ale
Country of Origin: USA
Brewery: Lakefront Brewery
Price Point: $1.59 / 12 oz bottle
Our Average Rating (1-10): 2
Notes: Nick: Sweet and fruity nose. Big, aggressive, chalky and honey taste. A little metallic. Ryan: Citrus upfront front. Chalk and Honey with slight bitterness. Brad: Mild body, cider vinegar, metallic, no aftertaste. Basically it sucks. Russ: Horrid. Do not buy.

Russ - Nick Drinks Blog

#5: Omission Lager
Type: 
Lager
Country of Origin: USA
BreweryOmission Beer
Price Point: $1.79 / 12 oz bottle
Our Average Rating (1-10): 1
Notes: Nick: Fungus smell. Tastes like carbonated milk. Not pleasant. Just plain awful. Ryan: No, no, just no. Rancid nose. Kill me now.  Brad: Stale Labatt’s awful. Russ: Stale smell and taste.

#6: New Planet Pale Ale
Type: 
Pale Ale
Country of Origin: USA
BreweryNew Planet Brewery
Price Point: $2.39 / 12 oz bottle
Our Average Rating (1-10): 3
Notes: Nick: Hope and caramel smell. Starts tasty then goes acidic and metallic. Ryan: Spicy nose with a hoppy taste and surprising finish. Brad: strong citrus nose, good start with nice hops then goes wrong and bitter. Russ: Good smell, aromatic. Nice start but finish is rough.

#7: G-Free
Type: 
Pilsner Lager
Country of Origin: UK
BrewerySt. Peters
Price Point: $4.49 / 1 pint & 0.9 oz bottle
Our Average Rating (1-10): 2
Notes: Nick: Herbal and sweet taste. But taste of rotten raspberries with bad bitters and hops and finished with watery cardboard. Ryan: Minty nose. Herbal and floral taste. Brad: Hoppy and floral nose with a good hoppy start then a bitter middle and a hoppy after taste. Hoppy! Russ: Smell is floral, bitter finish and could be a good beer.

#8: New Planet Amber Ale
Type:
Amber Ale
Country of Origin: USA
BreweryNew Planet Brewery
Price Point: $2.39 / 12 oz bottle
Our Average Rating (1-10): 1
Notes: Nick: Taste of rotten grass with hints of bitter and sour. Ryan: No. Pure…No. Brad: Vinegar apple nose with good start then follow bed rotten grass and horrible finish. Russ: Oh no is all I can say.

Ryan - Nick Drinks Blog

#9: Omission  Pale Ale
Type: 
Pale Ale
Country of Origin: USA
BreweryOmission Beer
Price Point: $1.79 / 12 oz bottle
Our Average Rating (1-10): 7
Notes: Nick: Hoppy, rich but a vapid middle. Great hop finish. Ryan: Hoppy aroma with citrus. Cereal and citrus taste with hop finish.  Brad: Mild citrus nose with hops and smooth finish. Russ: Good smell and very aromatic. Starts very nice. Good taste on initial drink but the finish kicks your butt with a bad backlash.

#10: Glutenator
Type: 
Millet/Sorghum/Sweet Potato Base
Country of Origin: USA
Brewery: EPIC Brewing
Price Point: $6.39 / 1 pint & 6 oz bottle
Our Average Rating (1-10): 4
Notes: Nick: Sweet and hoppy to the nose. Full and hoppy sour with herby notes. Ryan: Citrus & pepper notes in the nose. Citrusy taste with smooth finish. Brad: Hoppy citrus nose. Floral start then too cidery but a clear finish. Disappointing. Russ: Strongest head of all so far. Very cidery. Big Disappointment.

#11: Dry Hopped Lager
Type: 
Lager
Country of Origin: USA
BreweryMerchant du Vin
Price Point: $6.99 / 1 pint & 6 oz bottle
Our Average Rating (1-10): 4
Notes: Nick: Great herbs and hops on the nose. Pleasant start with herbs but then goes flat then very bitter. Ryan: jasmine, herbal up front with a light body and no aftertaste.  Brad: Flowery, herby nose. Floral start with a mild body and tart. No aftertaste. Russ: Nice nose, good head and very floral. Missing a body.

#12: Brunehaut Blond
Type: 
Blonde
Country of Origin: Belgium
BreweryBruenhaut Brewery
Price Point: $14 / 4 pack of 12 oz bottle
Our Average Rating (1-10): 7
Notes: Nick: Belgian smell. Taste was bitter tart with a hint of sweet and sour. Good body. Consistent taste start to finish. Ryan: Sweet nose, molasses, grains, cereals and sweet.  Brad: Tastes like a mild blonde but true to flavor. Mild body like a small blonde. Russ: Light, consistent, mild blonde. Holds throughout. Not bad.

Conclusion:
We liked the Brunehaut but it’s really hard to find in stores and has a steep price point. The Omission Pale Ale (not the Lager) is a good value and a great taste. Both the Dry Hopped Lager from Green’s and the Glutenator from EPIC were good but not worth the price, in our opinion. The easier to find beers were that interesting or down right awful. It pays to hunt out the harder to get stuff.

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How to Host a Beer Tasting: 

A beer tasting is a fun event to do with a group of friends. Pick a theme and have everyone bring 3 of their favorite bottles within that theme. Also, the host can bring all the bottles to the event. Have some basic snacks for the tasting chips and crackers work good between beers. Provide each setting with a tasting glass, dump bucket, water glass and water pitcher. A sheet for notes and a menu of beers is an added plus. Don’t forget pencils and bottle openers.l

Budmo!

Author Description

Nick

Nick is a cocktail enthusiast from Royal Oak, Michigan. His passion started in college by converting his loft into a tiki bar and equipping it with a selection of tools, glassware and liquors that rivaled most local bars. He currently spends his time researching uncommon and forgotten drinks, reading bartending books and building his ever expanding selection of bitters.

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