New brewing techniques have led to the development of new gluten-free beers in the European market, but Britain still leads the way with its range of bitters and lagers.
For some of us on a gluten-free diet the discovery that we can no longer drink beer is the final straw. A small bottle of cold lager in the evening is one of life’s pleasures and it’s taken me a lot of hunting to fill the gap left by this dietary restriction in what used to be a daily ritual. Gluten-free beer has often been a poor substitute for the real thing; so poor that despite my love of a cold, dry lager I gave it up altogether. But at last, due to a steadily growing market and some excellent brewers, gluten-free beer has really got its act together and there are now plenty of products to choose from; whether you like beer or lager or both, some of them are just as good as the real thing.
There’s no doubt that some taste different from ordinary beer and it’s simply a question of trying different brands until you find one you like. Traditional-beer lovers are possibly better served than lager drinkers but there’s quite a big crossover and if you’re a lager drinker you may well find yourself liking a beer and vice versa. So don’t be put off by the labels, try the beer anyway. Some of it is really excellent.
Each of these beers has its own merits and we liked a lot of them as drinks in their own right. But St Peter’s and both the Hambleton’s scored particularly highly with all the testers, some of whom thought them indistinguishable from ordinary beers.
Whether your preference is a traditional beer or a lager there is no longer a gaping hole in the market if you’re gluten free. And now summer is here what could be nicer than a cold glass of beer? So, even if you live gluten free, beer is back on the agenda.
NB All the beers were served very cold.
Schnitzer Bråu Premium Pils Schnitzerbräu, Germany
GFA Gluten and wheat-free ale
GFL Gluten and wheat-free lager
Against the Grain
St Peters’ G-Free Ale
Glutaner Pilsener style Belgium