Coeliacs rejoice! Beer doesn't have to be bad for you!
Gluten-free beer seems to be all the rage at the moment and this is great news for those who suffer from an intolerance. I can't speak from experience but I have seen the struggle that gluten intolerance can bring - forever reading the back label to make sure if something will cause upset or not, and what's more it can severely limit your choices.
Imagine my surprise when in this month's Best of British Beer case I found not one but three gluten-free beers! My opinions on the case as a whole will come next week (and you can read our reviews of other Best of British Beers has sent us) but for now I wanted to focus on the gluten-free offerings.
So why is gluten-free beer such a big deal? One of the key ingredients in beer is either barley or wheat, both of which contain gluten ,while other cereals such as corn, rice or oats don't. Beers are very rarely made from these other grains, but there are steps that brewers can do to reduce the glycoproteins (yay science!)
Does it have a profound effect? We shall see!
Allendale Brewery's GFPA (£32.50 for 12X500ml bottles).
From waaaay up in the North of England in Northumberland comes the Gluten Free Pale Ale.
While it may be lacking in gluten, this is certainly not lacking in flavour. The nose is full of pine, tropical fruit and toffee. Hugely mouth-filling and rich the pine continues with notes of mango, guava and citrus all rounded off with a long smoky finish.
All the classic hallmarks of a stonking IPA but at only 4.7%.
First Chop Brewing Arm - Gluten Free AVA (£31.50 for 12 X 500ml).
Coming further south we arrive in Salford where First Chop are busy brewing away under a railway arch. I do love a good railway arch, there's something quite romantic about them.
Before I get all gooey about industrial architectural design, let's talk about the beer! If it wasn't for the crystal clear blonde colour of the beer, I would've thought this was a wheat beer. The nose leaps out of the glass with notes of juicy orange, dried apricot and almond. In the mouth the nuttiness continues but displaying a more waxy citrus character.
Beautifully refreshing and down right drinkable!
Hop Back Brewery - Gluten Free Crop Circle (£2.95 per 500ml bottle).
Now we take our glycoprotein tour to the other side of Wales to the outskirts of Salisbury where the wonderful Hop Back Brewery originated.
Very pale in colour and with a nose of fresh cut pine, mango and grass. The pale colour masks a rich texture with notes of juicy citrus and a slight touch of red fruit. Not as hop-laden as some but still packing a wonderfully fragrant and refreshing finish.
At only 4.2% it's easy drinking at it's best.
All these beers are available from Best of British Beer. Can't find them on the website? Give them a call and they'll do their best to sort you out.