Our Gluten Free Beer Tasting

This post was written by my husband, John.

A few weeks ago, my sister and her husband came to stay with us for a few days. We were celebrating the birth of our daughter, Lucy, and decided to have a gluten free beer tasting to go along with our gluten free pizza. Mary and I are pretty much used to drinking gluten free beer now, but we were curious what Elizabeth and Greg’s reaction would be to trying some GF beers for the first time. Neither of them are gluten free, and they both like to drink beer, so we decided to try several different gluten free beers to see what we all thought of each one.

Here is the gluten free beer list from our tasting:
- Redbridge by Anheuser-Busch
- Hornsby’s Crisp Apple Hard Cider
- Bard’s Gold
- Shakparo by Sprecher

After tasting each beer, we took a vote and here are the results from our beer tasting:

Redbridge – The overall winner, Redbridge received high votes from everyone – ladies and guys, gluten free eaters and gluten eaters. I can also say that Redbridge is the best gluten free beer that I’ve had. It goes great with food or just by itself. Gluten free beers, as a whole, are generally a bit darker than the most popular “regular” beers, and this can take some people by surprise, especially if they’re used to drinking domestics like MGD, Bud Light and Coors Light. Redbridge is definitely more full-bodied than most regular beers, but it’s also a good bit lighter than a lot of gluten free beers. If you’re new to gluten free beer, I definitely recommend giving Redbridge a try. Final Vote = 9/10

Hornsby’s Cider – Hornsby’s, while not technically a beer, was a great addition to our beer tasting. It’s light and sweet and makes a great summer drink for those really hot days. Horrnsby’s was rated the highest by the ladies, and was also rated well by the guys. If you’re not a big beer drinker or if you don’t like the dark taste of most gluten free beer, give Hornsby’s or another hard cider a try. I bet you’ll find that you like it. Final Vote = 8/10

Note: Hornsby’s Cider does not say gluten free on the bottle, but the company does claim that it is gluten free. We’ve never noticed any problems from drinking it.

Bard’s Gold – Bard’s beer finished in the middle of the pack at our beer tasting. It was rated medium-high by the guys and medium by the ladies. Bard’s definitely has a strong taste to it that can take you by surprise if you’re not accustomed to gluten free beer, but if you’re a beer aficionado you’ll probably like it. The taste is a little too strong for me to drink it by itself, but it does go very well with food. Final Vote = 6/10

Shakparo – Shakparo was definitely an interesting beer. In fact, that was just about everyone’s reaction when they took their first sip: “Wow… that’s interesting”. Shakparo was initially rated medium by the guys and low by the girls, but the more I drank of it the lower my vote got. It had a very unique taste to it that I liked at first – it’s an African brew and it had some prominent fruity undertones – but the more I drank of it, the more I began to notice a very bitter medicine-y aftertaste. After I finished one cup of it, I really couldn’t drink anymore because the aftertaste was so strong. I can’t recommend Shakparo to anyone except the most hardcore of beer drinkers, but if you want to give it a shot, be sure and let me know what you thought of it. Final Vote = 3/10

So there are the results of our gluten free beer tasting. Let us know in the comments if there are any other good GF beers that we should try. We’d love to find some new favorites.

Comments

  1. Melissa says:

    While gluten free under FDA guidelines (20 ppm), Hornsby’s and also Harpoon do contain gluten. Is that enough to cause a reaction? Some of us don’t care to find out :) Wheat is added when making hard cider by commercial makers, to raise the alcohol level m to that of a regular beer without fermenting out all of the sugars from the apples. Gluten free ciders often use sugar instead.

    Redbridge is well accepted because it is Bud w/o any trace of barely. I wonder if one were to have Budweiser assayed if it would come up as having any significant amount of gluten as it is mostly corn, rice and hops these days.

    Try Magner’s or Warwick Valley Doc’s Cider for 2 excellent ciders that do not have wheat added to their products and aren’t watery like Strongbow or Original Sin.

    This site also has a list of some GF beers, some of them are local, so some research might have to be done to find them in your area http://www.myglutenfreenj.com/Gluten_Free_Beer.html

  2. Informative article — clear information and easy to follow up on. Thanks for the post.

  3. I agree that Redbridge is probably at the top of my list. Sharing the top spot, for me, is New Grist by Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee. http://www.lakefrontbrewery.com/gluten_free.html

    It’s a little smoother than Redbridge (which has a bit of a bite, but in a good way). And I agree with you on Shakparo. Tried it once, won’t be buying it again anytime soon.

  4. I was a beer drinker, before I discovered that gluten was my enemy. It is the only thing I miss. I tried the Grist and the Bredridge…not a fan. I admitdly, am a beer snob and don’t like bud, coors, etc.. I like them strong and rick with flavor. It sounds like I might like the ones you guys didn’t. I went by a place called World of Beer today and they have quite a few ciders I can try, but suggested I try St. Peter’s Sorgum out of England…I am keeping my fingers crossed, because up to now I have been dissappointed.

  5. Prior to my diagnosis, I was a beer snob and partook of numerous microbrews around the country. In my opinion, Redbridge is okay, refreshing on a hot summer day, but lacks any real character. However, because it’s made by Anheiser Busch, it’s fairly easy to obtain and is the least expensive g-f beer I’ve had. I have tried New Grist lager, and I won’t go out of my way to buy it again. I’ve been most satisfied with Bard’s Tale – but I am aware of only 2 stores in a 50-mile radius that carry it! In addition, I’ve tried a couple of g-f beers from Green’s. Good, but not worth the $7.99/bottle they cost me! I’m planning on a trip to England this year, and hope to try Hambleton’s Toleration (nut-brown) Ale.

  6. My husband really misses beer! He has tired most of these with Red Bridge being on the top of the list. However he is a dark beer man, so none of them really fit the bill. I am thinking about starting to brew some gluten free beer…we will see how that turns out!

  7. Check out the new GF beer from Spain, Daura, that’s made with barley but they somehow “deglutenize” it so that it has less than 6 ppm of gluten. It’s now making its way to the U.S.:

    http://glutenfreephilly.blogspot.com/2010/06/daura-explorer.html

  8. I’ve tried several of those listed. I disagree with you on the Redbridge, though. I grew into beer flavor in Britain and enjoy hoppier, more bitter, flavors. My current favorite is New Grist from Lakefront Brewery that P. mentions above. It is super with pizza or hot Buffalo wings. Also, Woodchuck makes several flavors of excellent Hard Cider which are gluten-free and say so on the bottles. They make everything from a light, bright green apple flavor to Raspberry, Pear, or Dark & Dry. All are refreshing on a hot day and pair especially well with flavors from the barbecue.

  9. Just called my local liquor store, he told me Redbridge has been discontinued.

  10. A while back I visited my hometown back in Michigan where the alcohol laws seem non-existent (compared to Utah, my new home), so I went on the hunt for GF beer. What I found my a brew by St. Peter’s brewery out of Suffolk UK located in the GF beer section of the local food co-op (best aisle ever). I have to say that everything about this beer screamed excellence! The bottle they chose was the original bottle from the early 1800′s when the brewery began operations and it contents, dear lord, easily one of the better (if not best) beers I have ever had, gluten free or not. Go out of your way to get your hands on this beer!

  11. This is such a great blog – so informative and interesting. I love that you taste tested gluten free beer. Genius! I have a website, http://www.shareWIK.com, and would love to hear from you! ShareWIK (share What I Know) is a website devoted to bringing together women from all different situations and backgrounds (as well as a few men!) to talk about their experiences and learn from each other. We are taking about Celiac Disease this week on ShareWIK, and I would love your intake. Just sign up to get started. Hope to hear from you!
    - Diana Keough
    P.S. And keep up the great work!

  12. We mostly drink Redbridge, but only because we haven’t found something better. We keep trying. Daura is not bad, though. Not a fan of New Grist or Bards, although I saw another Lakefront beer but want to learn more about it (in PA, beer is generally only sold by the case – expensive outlay for something you might not like at all…)
    My nephew made GF beer for us when we were visiting. Not too bad but overly sweet. He used corn and sorghum.
    I will definitely have to look for St Peters. We really miss having Victory beers – Prima Pils is my husband’s definition of “beer”. They talk about trying a GF beer. That would be wonderful…

  13. I have celiac disease very severely that even if a few croutons make their way into a salad I ate, I will have intense reactions for days to come. But I have discovered that there are a few Beers on the market that are not labeled as ‘gluten free beers’ that do not effect me at all. The beers I have come to find that have less hops and barley in them (but still contain both) are Stella Artois, Stein Lager, and trader joe’s Simpler Times beer. This may not be the same for everyone who has celiac, but I just though I’d throw that out there.

  14. I have a question about the recent newsletter sent out . . . did the recipe amounts for Mary’s Yeast Rolls come through correctly for anyone? They’re garbled for me, with quote marks and strange z’s instead of fractions. If anyone has the correct amounts, I’d love to know what they are. :o)

  15. I love Hornsby’s Cider! I liked this even before I knew I had Celiac. This cider helps me fit in when all my other friends have their 6packs of Bud. Speaking of Budweiser… I also enjoy their Red Hook Sorghum beer. It’s gluten-free and tastes like “normal” beer. Good stuff.

  16. Thanks for this info. My readers ask me about gluten-free beer and since I am not a beer drinker I’ll be able to pass your recommendation along. Thanks again!

  17. @Serena Have your husband try Green’s Dubble Dark Endeavor beer. I don’t have other options in my area yet but this one is a good beer in my opinion.

    @Michael Any ppm of gluten is too much for my wife. Only truly Gluten Free Beer’s in our house!

    @Delta Redbridge was reformulated earlier this year to make it a 3.2% alcohol so it is legal in all states.

    @Lois I have not had St. Peter’s, it is not available in my area yet. Try the Green’s Discovery if you like an amber beer or the Dubble Dark is you prefer a dark beer.

  18. Carla,

    Gluten Free Beer is overlooked area of the brewing industry. Any readers you have that want more information you can direct to the Gluten Free Beer Association. We are currently conducting a survey to assist with the communication between GF beer drinkers and the brewing industry. We need all the input we can get. As I talk with brewers, information on numbers and market is key to getting an increase in production of Gluten Free Beer as well as distribution of the beers already available. Please send over all you can. For informations sake, Sprecher – the maker of Shakparo, are no longer making a Gluten Free Beer.

    Cheers,
    Gluten Free Beer dot org