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12 actually delicious gluten-free beers
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12 actually delicious gluten-free beers

These exemplary beers are about the flavor they've packed in—not just what they’ve left out.
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Lucky for those with gluten allergies or drinkers trying to modify their diets (we won’t open that can of worms), gluten-free beers made with alternatives to wheat and barley like sorghum, rice, tapioca, millet and even lentils are now worthy of your fridge space. Many share a slightly tart, green apple quality—a plus if you’re used to wine or cider. Just don’t think of gluten-free beers as mirrors of traditional styles; only a few taste like the classics they aim to reproduce. Keep an open mind about what these exemplary versions have to offer—not just what they’ve left out.

But first, a quick note on gluten free vs. gluten-reduced: Beers labeled “gluten-free” must not contain wheat, barley or rye; hybrids of those grains; or any ingredients derived from them. Beers with lower gluten levels that may still contain traces of wheat, barley or rye are labeled “gluten reduced,” or “crafted to remove gluten.”

Two Brothers Prairie Path

Few realize this blonde ale is gluten-free thanks to an abundance of bread crust flavor; balanced hop bitterness sweeps up woody peach and toffee notes.

Alt Brew Farmhouse Ale

This saison-ish beer starts with a lemon- pith nose that segues into a tangerine sip. A touch of honey adds some weight.

Lakefront New Grist

The label says it’s a pilsner, but don’t expect crackery Pilsen malt flavor: Instead, this sorghum ale’s sweet grain and green apple notes wrap up with mellow hop bitterness and a lager snap.

Green’s Dubbel Dark Ale

You’ll barely notice the 7% ABV in this easy-drinking Belgian (brewed with gluten-free ingredients including millet, buckwheat, brown rice and sorghum); tart blackberry and cola finish clean in a dry swallow.

Sprecher Shakparo

Based on an African millet beer, Shakparo exudes pear aromas, fresh effervescence and some bubblegummy sweetness—a surprising substitute for traditional Belgians.

Dupont Foret Libre

Gluten-reduced Libre is nearly indistinguishable from a traditional saison with funk and tart lemon on the nose and peppery spice on the sip.

Damm Daura

A slightly tart lager perfect for patio drinking, the gluten-reduced Damm rounds out with young wood on the sip. It’s not overly complex; serve it as a substitute for a macro-lager six-pack.

New Planet Raspberry Ale

This brewery’s all-gluten-free lineup is fairly traditional (think: brown ale, pale ale, etc.), and each beer exhibits an apple/grape fruitiness that finds its best expression in this sweet, berry-tinged brew perfect for the shandy-drinking set.

Ground Breaker Pale Ale

This pale ale’s main fermentable is Oregon chestnuts, but it’s also hopped with Cascade and Meridian hops, which lend cold mint, sweet tropical fruit and smooth bitterness.

Omission IPA

Omission’s gluten-reduced beers— brewed with an enzyme that removes gluten—are all solid, but the IPA’s a standout. Orange blossom aromas introduce a woody, smooth sip reminiscent of an English IPA.

Joseph James Fox Tail

Wine drinkers, take note! Huge champagne bubbles lift oaky, creamy chardonnay flavors to the fore of this food-friendly pour.

Glutenberg Red Ale

Canada’s Glutenberg brewery has dominated the gluten-free category at World Beer Cup in years past; the toasty, lightly smoky and nutty ale (thanks to roasted chestnuts) proves Glutenberg’s GF prowess.

 

Author
Kate Bernot is DRAFT’s beer editor. Reach her at kate.bernot[at]draftmag.com.

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5 Comments

  • So new to the GF scene is a dedicated gluten free brewery here in WA State called Ghostfish, and their beers easily are better than the ones on your list I have tried. Until I tried Ghostfish, I was fairly impressed with Omission, but not only does it beat the flavor and mouthfeel, but it is actually 100% gluten free.

    • Jimmy says:

      Ghostfish looks promising but their only online retailer wanted an astounding $20 to ship ONE 22 ounce bottle of their stout to Baltimore.

  • MP says:

    You need to add Stone’s Delicious IPA! It’s the best one we’ve tried! Like Omission, too, but we can’t get it in our area!

  • Royford says:

    Glutenberg’s American Pale Ale is so close to the European pilsners I loved like Becks, Carlsberg and Stella

  • Michael Saks says:

    Has anyone tried Lammsbrau pure lager (gluten free), or compared it to any of the above ? Will await any replies with interest . After discovering that gluten is officially off of my list, I have found great gluten free pancake mix, pizza dough mix, and other products. But alas, nothing in g-f beer even comes close to the real thing. But I did read one on-line article that says that Lammsbrau nailed the g-f beer.

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