A few months back I was offered the chance to sample a range of gluten free products from a new on-line retailer called FreeGo. Their shop boasts a variety of GF sweet and savoury products, many of which were new names to me. It is always good when a retailer can broaden your gluten free horizon and introduce you to something new. Amongst the items I received were some fantastic flavoured marshmallows, an amazing Belgian chocolate orange biscuit bar and some lovely Smooze fruit ice which you freeze yourself at home. The Smooze products are simply made from coconut milk and fruit juice so not only are they made with 100% natural ingredients they are also dairy free.
The lovely guys and girls at Freego, whom some of you may have met at this years Allergy Show, asked me if there were any other products that I would like to see stocked. One area that I thought was lacking was gluten free beer and lager. FreeGo took this advice on board and contacted me a few weeks back to say that they had chosen Green’s Belgian craft beers as their first gluten free beer to stock. FreeGo have chosen to stock Green’s naturally gluten free beer, rather than a de-glutenised product. I was lucky enough to be offered some samples to try out, and I managed to have my arm twisted to try some free gluten free ale ;-) Readers may be familiar with Green’s if you’ve tried their gluten free pilsner which is available at Pizza Express.
Dry Hopped Lager
Pre-coeliac I was always a lager drinker rather than being in to ale, so this was naturally the first sample I went for. I’d actually tried a small sample of this one at the Allergy Show and had been impressed. This lager was a gluten free gold medal winner at the 2014 World Beer Cup so is claimed to be “officially the best gluten free beer in the world!”. Naturally gluten free ingredients include water, sorghum, millet, buckwheat, brown rice and yeast, and brewed to a strength of 4%. This lager is extremely fruity and refreshing, and would be perfect for drinking on a summers day. If I remember rightly from the allergy show the “fruitiness” is in fact elderflower. I sampled with a few colleagues from the Coeliac UK Plymouth group. A few were unsure about the elderflower, and many felt it didn’t really taste like lager – though not necessarily in a bad way. Personally I thought it was as good as I remembered from the Allergy Show, certainly different from a traditional lager but really enjoyable.
Made with similar naturally gluten free ingredients to the dry hopped lager, this ale is brewed to a rather cheeky 6%. I’ve never really been an ale drinker but maybe my taste buds are maturing and I really enjoyed this one. In fact this was generally the favourite amongst the tasters of the Coeliac UK Plymouth group committee, even being described as “bloody lovely” by an ale drinker amongst the group. There was no fruitiness to this one and the taste testers generally agreed this tasted like a “proper” beer. The experience of trying this would certainly lead me to trying more ales in the future.
India Pale Ale
The IPA was brewed to 5%, splitting the difference between the lager and the ale, but again made with similar ingredients. I enjoyed it but I think the general feeling was this was perhaps the least favourite of the three amongst the group. Again a bit of a fruit/floral taste to this one so almost a middle of the road between the two beers above. This ale does have strong credentials though having been voted the best gluten free beer at the 2014 Free From Food Awards.
Overall I really enjoyed the three beers. Since being diagnosed with coeliac disease I’ve very much become a cider drinker. I don’t really miss lager, but when I get my hands on some now it always feels like a special treat. I’d happily drink any of these beers again, and let’s hope in the future we might even see gluten free bottled beers in pubs. Maybe we need to encourage one of the big chains like JD Weatherspoon to start stocking a gluten free beer and then others might follow.
As you might notice in the picture above, FreeGo also sent me some Kracklecorn, a sweet and salty popcorn made by Portlebay Popcorn down here in Devon. My wife and I loved this and devoured a large bag over a couple of sittings, well worth a try. The good news for Gluten Free by the Sea readers is that you can currently get £10 off your first order of £20 from FreeGo using the code “GFBYSEA10′ (exp 31/09).
Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea