11 Gluten Free Beers (and a cider) Reviewed

 

I love beer. I don’t really understand wine, but I do like beer. Since I limit my gluten, gluten free (or gf) beer is a nice option.

Gluten free beer isn’t all that easy to find. Often, you can find Red Bridge at the supermarket, and Redbridge and Bard’s at the “natural food store.” Personally, I like Redbridge, but that’s coming from someone who likes the taste  regular ol’ beers, like Corona and even the occasional Bud Light, so take that for what it’s worth. Of course, I do prefer more robust beers, but [almost] every beer has a spot in my heart.

Last week, I attended a “health practitioner” meeting held in the tasting room of the local wine superstore, Total Wines & More. It was a gathering of personal trainers, nutritionists, wellness coaches, healthy cooking experts, and more. I’ll leave all the holistic news and nutrition and fitness gossip to future writings, because today is all about the beer.

gluten free beer lineup

round one

 

round two of gluten free beer cider

round two

Below, eleven beers are ranked by taste and value to me, which makes things entirely subjective. I originally meant to review ten beers,but I discovered a new one (Brunehaut Amber Ale) at Yard House, last weekend, since it’s one gf beer that’s readily available, I thought it would be good to toss it into the mix.

By the way, Galya has tasted all of these, right along side me. In every case we agreed on whether to finish it or pour it in the sink. 😉 There were one or two in the middle that were in question, and those aren’t worth drinking, anyway.

 

#11 New Planet, Tread Lightly Ale

Ale made from sorghum and corn extract.

This “beer” tastes like medicine. It’s so nasty that we poured it out. It’s bitter and astringent and nothing can save it.

 

#10 Shakporo

Beer made from sorghum and millet.

It’s hard for me to call this beer. It’s horrible stuff. Bitter and angry, medicinal and herbal. Yuck.

 

#9 Fox Tail Gluten Free Ale

This beer is in a can, and it does not say what grains are used to make it. It’s also EXTREMELY bitter, to the point where I almost didn’t finish it. If you really like bitter beer, this might be the one for you.

I hesitate to call this one nasty, since some people might really like bitter. I wouldn’t buy this again, but I did finish it.

 

#8 The Glutenator

Brewed with sweet potato and molasses.

I had high hopes for this one, because it’s in a huge bottle and the idea of being made with sweet potatoes was intriguing. Instead, it tastes pretty nasty. ” Cidery, but not in a good way. Bitter.

“You’d really have to want beer to drink this,” said Galya. Only it doesn’t taste much like beer…

 

#7 New Planet, Off Grid Pale Ale

Ale made from sorghum and brown rice extract.

It might have helped that this followed “The Glutenator,” but this one DOES taste like beer. It’s a little bitter, but in a good way. If someone poured this for me, I wouldn’t guess that it’s gluten free, I’d have to check to be sure. Good beer. Hearty taste, and I’d buy it again.

 

#6 Bard’s

The original sorghum malt beer, it says on the label.

Bard’s seems to be the second most common gf beer out there. It’s 1.5 to 2 times the price of Redbridge, but it’s worth it if you like the taste. It’s good beer that tastes like beer. It tastes different than Redbridge, but I wouldn’t say it’s better.

 

#5 Redbridge

Redbridge is the most mainstream of all the beers that we reviewed here. It’s available at most of the mainstream supermarkets. I like it, and it’s priced very similarly to Corona, Blue Moon, etc. I don’t think people who only like beers like Coors or Bud Light would love this one, but if that’s all you had at a party, they’d knock ’em all back.

Redbridge is made with sorghum and corn syrup, if you’re interested, plus hops and water. Redbridge is made by Anheisur

 

#4 Estrella Damm Daura (not made with gluten free ingredients)

This lager is made from traditional barley malt, after which the gluten is removed. There are less than 6ppm, and it carries the international gluten-free symbol, although it doesn’t say as much in words. Still, gluten is less than 6ppm, but that may be 6ppm more than some celiacs can take. Drinker beware.

Note that there is another Estrella Damm that’s normal beer and looks the same. Look for the large name “Daura” on the label for the gluten free version.

This beer is great beer, although it is a lighter style of beer. It’s great on a hot day and is very refreshing. I would buy this on a regular basis if Total Wines & More wasn’t so far away.

 

galya enjoys brunehaut gluten free beer

at Yard House, sipping a Brunehaut gluten free beer

#3 Brunehaut Amber Ale (not made with gluten free ingredients)

This is a fine Belgian ale. This ale is made from traditional barley malt, after which the gluten is removed. It’s not marked as gluten free because labeling laws in Belgium don’t allow beers produced with gluten containing ingredients to be labeled as gluten free. Still, gluten is less than 5ppm, but that may be more than some celiacs want to risk. Drinker beware.

 

#2 New Grist

“A crisp and refreshing session beer,” so says the bottle. My friend Tom, a great resource on all things beer, tells me that a session beer is a beer that can be sipped throughout the night. In other words, it’s lite in the alcohol department. That’s fine by me, although others might like a bigger kick.

The beer is made from sorghum and rice extract. It’s finely carbonated, and extremely crisp and refreshing. It smells like cider, but does not taste like cider. It’s a little reminiscent of a kristal weizen bier from Germany, from the crispness to the fine bubbles in the carbonation.

I’ve had this beer before, so I was excited to see it at the store. I liked it then, and I like it now. This is a good beer, gluten free or not. I liked this one well enough to buy a few more bottles when I went back for more gluten free beers to taste.

 

#1 Green’s Tripel Blonde Ale

Millet, buckwheat, rice, sorghum, hops, and yeast. It comes in a large bottle (16.9 oz), and is often available in brew pubs that cater to real beer aficionados. Even at the store, it’s expensive, and one beer runs you more than a six pack of Redbridge.

The label is interesting, as it says it does not contain wheat, barley, crustaceans, eggs, fish, peanuts, soya beans, milk, lactose, nuts, celery, mustard, sesame seeds, sulfur dioxide, and sulfites. Good to know… Makes me wonder about the other beers, which do not make this claim. Hmmm…

Green’s is really good beer. It’s an aficionado’s beer, and is right up there with the craft brews and high end imports that are savored, sipped, and analyzed like one would a fine wine.

I ranked it number one, although I would say it wouldn’t  be most people’s daily drinker (not that you should drink beer every day, anyway).

 

Bonus — Spire Draft CiderSpire Draft Cider Gluten Free Beer Reviews

A “Dark and Dry”cider,  made with molasses and brown sugar.

This cider is very beer-like, even with the expected apple taste. Most ciders are  very sweet, and those that aren’t are sour. This is neither, with only a slight sweetness. In a pinch, I think beer lovers would really enjoy this cider. It’s not very sweet or sour, it’s got a lot of bold flavor, and it’s thick and rich in the mouth.

 

Gluten Free Selections

The gluten free section at the beer and wine specialty stores keep growing. Whether you have Celiac disease or are just gluten intolerant, it’s good to know that you have options. …and some of them are nasty.

gluten free beer cider shelf total wines and more

The gluten free selection at Total Wines & More, featuring beer and a variety of ciders

 

Let us know if we left off your favorite, or if you disagree with the review!

 

Edit – For more gluten-free beer reviews, see this later post.

 

Roland & Galina

21 thoughts on “11 Gluten Free Beers (and a cider) Reviewed

  1. Tom Murrell

    Thanks for the rundown! I’ve had a few of them and am looking for several of the others.

    I do want to highly recommend one that’s newly available around the country. That’s O’Mission. I read great reviews and found it a couple of weeks ago and I love it–my new favorite! It’s one of the beers that’s made with barley with almost all the gluten removed, and it tastes like real beer. I prefer their Lager, but they also make a Pale Ale which is pretty good as well.

    Reply
    1. roland Post author

      Thanks, Tom. I’m pretty sure my store has O’Mission, but it’s not in the GF section. Likewise, they have some beers in the GF section that are gluten-removed, but don’t mention that on the label. You’d have to be in the know.

      Does O’Mission say it’s GF on the bottle?

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Roland

      Reply
  2. Michael

    I’ve tried a few of these and like Bard’s a lot. Will definitely try some of the others. Thanks so much for the rundown!

    Reply
  3. reggie

    I’ve tried Bard’s, L’Messagere, New Grist, Nckel Brook, & St. Peter’s…
    NEW GRIST wins the race by 10 Lengths. Thank you very much Lakefront Brewery!!

    Reply
  4. Dave

    Dogfish Head’s Tweason ‘Ale is one of the best I’ve found. It has a slight strawberry taste but not cloying or sweet. Very crisp, refreshing. The best part…it tastes like beer without any of the weird aftertastes of other gluten free beers. Only negative, it’s a fruit beer.
    Speaking of aftertaste, Widmer’s Omission ranks lower on my list. On the plus side, it is the first GF beer I’ve found that is hoppy. If you are a hophead like me, you’ll love the mini-burst of hop flavor at first sip. But, it’s the aftertaste that just lingers on your palette…meh, not good.

    Reply
    1. Roland Denzel

      Thanks for the tip, Dave! I HAVE had Omission, and it’s going to be in the next batch of beers I review (plus Trader Joe’s new GF beer).

      I think I’ve seen Dogfish Head’s Tweason and didn’t know it was GF! I’ll have to try one. I hear you on the fruit…

      We were at ‘the taste of paleo’ a few weeks ago, and we tried two ciders with some sort of quasi-french name that tasted more like good beer than cider, but we can’t remember the name!

      Reply
  5. disqus_ogKAAepzLA

    Hi! I live in Belgium and Brunehaut IS labeled as glutenvrij or sans gluten (gluten free) here. Labeling laws in America prevent it from being labeled gluten free there. That being said, they have three types available here and I love the brown and blonde varieties. I enjoyed the post!

    Reply
    1. Roland Denzel

      That’s great to know!

      We’re starting to see more beers labeled as gluten-removed, here, so people who are really worried can make their decision based on how sensitive to gluten they are.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Roland

      Reply
  6. Pingback: More Gluten Free Beer Reviews, plus some Hard Ciders

  7. Tony

    Excellent review of GF beers. Havent tried them all but agree on the ones I have had. Found a delicious one while in Prague a couple of years ago called Celia ( cute name). Have not come across here. PS Great pic pf who I assume is the wife. She seems very happy.

    Reply
    1. Roland Denzel

      Celia is a great name! Maybe it will make it to the US someday.

      I keep swinging by the big beer stores looking for new ones, but if you hear of any new ones, let me know!

      Reply
  8. Gluten Free-Beer

    Great review, I have found that finding the beer in my area is rather difficult so at least when I drive WAY out of my way to get a six pack ill have some idea where not to waist my money.

    Reply
  9. MamaCassi

    Loving reading your reviews! I just picked up a pack of ngb from Trader Joe’s, and ended up reading about gf beers for WAY TOO LONG. Haven’t tried the ngb, but now I’m not very excited to either.

    I’m a Bard’s fan. Pretty much my favorite for a while now. My other absolute favorite is Celia Saison by Ipswich Brewing Company. It was designed by the Alchemist in VT, but is now made in 4 packs by Ipswich brewing company (used to be mercury brewing) and is distributed in New England. I used to live in Ipswich and it’s a bitter/orange peel/Belgium Saison style beer.

    Stone also has a new gluten-removed option out there. My husband is sensitive but can do gluten-removed beer, while I’m a gluten-free all the way (react to even cross-contamination in many foods and 20ppm is not low enough) and so he likes Omission, but love’s Stone in all it’s offerings.

    Reply
  10. Nicole

    Hello,
    I have recently found that I am gluten intolerant. I normally drink Bud Light or Coos Light, not a big fan of very hoppy beers. What would you recommend on this list?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. roland Post author

      Nicole, the one that we think tastes the most like REAL beer is Omission. They have 2-3 types, but the least hoppy is their lager, which has the yellow label.

      Unfortunately, lagers aren’t cool or hip right now, so we have to buy it at Total Wines and More or BevMo, since our grocery store only has the green label (IPA I think).

      I’m with you on the hoppy ones. I like them less hoppy and less bitter.

      RedBridge and Bards aren’t bad, but they are still less like normal beer than Omission.

      Reply

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