Gluten-free Beer

I think the best part of this post is getting to say gluten-free beer over and over again. Go ahead… try it. Yeah… you liked it, didn’t you? Anyway…. So last night we had dinner at a gluten free restaurant in the West Village, Risoterria. While we were there for the risotto (which was fantastic), Risoterria offered a huge variety of interesting gluten-free menu items. I noticed several gluten-free beers on the menu and thought – what the crap – why not? Thus I bring you today’s review of New Grist from the Lakefront Brewery.
Now I did a good bit of research on this beer. This beer gets a really bad wrap on sites like Beer Advocate and Rate Beer which made me think of a post that Jay Brooks did over at The Brookston Beer Bulletin earlier this week. It was about whether or not having just anybody blogging off about reviews can help or hurt a micro brew. Check it out here, it’s a great editorial. Anyway, I was disappointed at how many people missed the point of this beer. Imagine, my fellow beer lovers, having Celiac Disease. This means you can’t eat any gluten products which includes malt. NO BEER. This beer frees these people to imbibe in this great beverage. So think long and hard about that, before you go bashing this product.
Appearance: Pours a very light golden color with little to no head. Very clear and only a few bubbles.
Aroma: Not much aroma. A bit of citrusy or apple scent, but, of course, no malt aroma.
Taste: While this beer comes off a bit watery, it’s not bad. There isn’t a strong hop flavor or rich maltiness, but it does taste like a beer. There’s a bit of an aftertaste of the rice that New Grist is brewed with, similar to the aftertaste of saki, but nowhere near as strong. If you’re familiar with the taste of sorghum (think cous cous, porridge and molasses), you’ll find it here.
Mouthfeel: Watery, like it’s taste, but very crisp and refreshing.
So in the end, New Grist is never going to be the beer I reach for in times of need. But I think it’s great that those who can’t eat glutens have a beer choice at all, and if this is going to be it, well, it ain’t too shabby.


Unearthing A Gruit Ale

I was pleasantly surprised to find a Gruit Ale on one of my visits to New Beer. Gruit is a combination of herbs thatgruit.jpg were used to brew beer before the use of hops. There’s really an extensive and remarkable history to Gruit. The way it tastes, the way it effects you, and even in a social context. You can check it out at Wikipedia for a fairly decent history, or maybe I’ll write more on it later. Anyway… back to Two Druids!
Appearance: Pours with a small head that quickly fades away. There are all sorts of particles swimming around in the body of this ruby/caramel/brown/gold beer. I’m not sure how to capture the color, and my photo does no justice. These particles make for a murky beer.
Aroma: This beer has an aroma that you might expect from a seasonal holiday brew. Herbs and spice and some other things nice. Nothing over the top in any one area. My nose is assaulted by such a variety though. I small rosemary and maybe cloves or cinnamon, a raisin/apple smell combined with the alcohol gives this beer a white wine kind of smell. There’s also a kind of tangy smell that makes me think of soy sauce.
Taste: I’ve got to admit, I was terrified to sip this beer, but I knew it had to be done. I was pleasantly surprised! Often something with herbs and spice reminds me of chomping on potpourri, but this one didn’t. The flavors weren’t too overwhelming. There’s a bit of bitterness in this beer that fades to a slight sweetness. It reminds me of a cider, rather than a beer. That thinking makes me feel like this beer will taste good even as it warms to room temperature (as I imagine it was served in the ancient days that it was brewed).
Mouthfeel: While I was expecting this beer to have a strange mouthfeel, because of all of those particles floating around, it didn’t. It had a lot of body with a feeling somewhere between oily and creamy without being too filling.
What an interesting surprise this beer was. I love that the guys at Heavyweight Brewery put themselves out there and tried this unusual brewing technique. While it’s obviously not a brew for every day, if you’re into beer, don’t pass up the opportunity to try this unique brew.