Tag Archives: beer

Green’s Beer From FreeGo Review

7 Sep

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.

FreeGo2014-06-21 13.50.50

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.

Az keen to help with the beer sampling!

Az keen to help with the beer sampling!

Dry Hopped Lager

Dry hoppedPre-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.

Discovery Ale

DiscoveryMade 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

IPAThe 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

Pizza Express Gluten Free Review

3 May

Well this blog got somewhat known for it’s pizza reviews during the great gluten free pizza rush of 2012.  It’s been a while but Pizza Express have this week given me an excuse to write about (and of course eat!) gluten free pizza once more.  Last week I looked on enviously as some of my blogger friends attended the Pizza Express gluten free launch event.  There seemed to be universal great feedback, so I couldn’t wait to go out and give this a try myself when the new gluten free menu options were rolled out nationwide on April 30th.

GFBeerPizza Express have been working closely with Coeliac UK for a number of years to get this right, and have managed to get NGCI accreditation for their efforts.  Feedback from the launch event was that they were taking cross contamination extremely seriously, to the extent that Pizza Express have switched from wheat flour to gluten free flour to stretch out the dough for the regular pizzas.  This obviously drastically reduces any cross contamination risk and is an extremely impressive measure that they have taken.

The menu was clearly labelled with an NGCI symbol next to the gluten free choices.  I thought the menu was less clear though when it came to the pizza section.  It clearly stated a GF base was available and that most toppings were gluten free, though I had to query which ones I couldn’t have.  With regards cross contamination, Coeliac UK had this to say about Pizza Express in this month’s eXG email “They have been stringent in their approach to safety, introducing a rigorous training programme for team members, new equipment and even gluten-free flour in their restaurants, which will be used to stretch their regular bases.”

I’d phoned in advance to ensure that the gluten free bases were available, and the staff member I spoke to was fully aware of the new menu options and keen to tell me that they also offered gluten free brownie now.  When we arrived at the restaurant I was also pleased to see they had made a note that I needed to eat gluten free next to the booking.  Upon being seated the first thing I noticed was the gluten free brownie being advertised loud and clear, it gave a clear impression Pizza Express were proud of the changes and were not hiding it away in small print as I have seen others do.

First order of business was of course to get my hands on a gluten free beer!  Hats off to Pizza Express for providing this option, and it is good to see this attention to detail.  The beer itself was a pilsner from Greens, which was light and refreshing.  It is the first time I have seen the option of a gluten free beer with a meal in Plymouth so a big thumbs up.  I have to admit though I think I am a fully converted cider drinker now!  It was great to have the option though, and a nice novelty to have a beer.

GFPizza

On to the main event, and the pizza.  Nearly all the toppings are gluten free, the exceptions being meatballs, spicy beef and Gruyere and parmesan sauce.  I went for the American Hot with jalapeño peppers.  I was not disappointed.  The base itself was thin and crispy, and I know many of you who have tried the Domino’s base have commented on a preference for a thinner crust.  The taste and texture of the base were good and I was very pleased with my topping choices, full of flavour and a nice spicy kick from the peppers.  Overall very impressed.

GFBrownieI couldn’t really leave without sampling the gluten free brownie for you all now could I?  First thing to note is that the dessert is part of the Dolcetti range, meaning it is a “mini dessert” that comes with a coffee or tea.  Don’t expect a big portion here!  My wife did laugh at the size of the brownie, but I have to admit it was actually a nice size after demolishing a whole pizza.  The brownie itself was delicious, extremely rich and chocolatey and I was very impressed.

Whilst ordering I was made to feel very normal, like gluten free was no problem at all, and this is always a good experience.  The staff seemed genuinely interested in my thoughts and enquired a couple of times on my opinion of the food.  I was happy to report that I was thoroughly impressed with the whole meal and I would definitely go back for another go.

After my previous pizza reviews I tried to rank them, and I had Domino’s coming out on top.  I’ve been giving some thought as to where I would put Pizza Express in this list.  It’s a tough comparison, and a feel like it is kind of comparing apples and oranges.  Domino’s feels like a naughty takeaway, whereas Pizza Express has very much more of a restaurant feel to their pizza.  The flavour of the pizza at Pizza Express I would say was more sophisticated and the herbs used really added depth to the flavour in the toppings.  Truth be told, I will probably eat Domino’s more simply because of the takeaway and delivery options.  However, in terms of the toppings I think you’d have to lean towards Pizza Express.  Domino’s is a thicker pizza so it really is down to personal preference here, both bases are good in their own right, but if you prefer a thinner base I have no doubt you will prefer the Pizza Express offering.  I think I’ll call it a tie.

For Plymouth readers, there are two branches of Pizza Express in the city.  I visited the Derrys Cross restaurant, which can be found next door to another restaurant reviewed on this blog JD’s Grill.  The other branch can be found near the cinema within the Barbican Leisure Park.

For more information have a read of the excellent blogs at Little Missed Gluten and The Happy Coeliac.  Both are about the launch party and go into more depth about the cross contamination measures that are in place.  For those of you who suffer from further allergies and intolerances you can view Pizza Express’ full allergy information here.  I’d definitely recommend coeliacs and fellow gluten freers giving Pizza Express a go, please comment below with your feedback if you’ve given it a try already.

Kevin, Gluten Free by the Sea.

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