Making gluten-free beer that tastes good is anything but straightforward. Beer is typically brewed barley, and boiled into what amounts to gluten soup. When established American breweries have tried their hands at gluten-free brewing, they've replaced these ingredients — the backbone of the beer — with sorghum (a grass), rice, or raw sugar. The resulting flavor wasn't quite right for the vast majority of these brews.
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"They don't taste like the beers that most people know," says Charles Bamforth, a professor of Brewing Science at the University of California, Davis. "People are pining for products that have a more mainstream flavor." These beers, however, have cracked the code. Some use new ingredients, like dark-roasted millet and chestnuts, while others are "gluten-reduced" beers that follow traditional brewing techniques and then add an enzyme to break down the gluten.
Brewer: Estrella Damm
Style: Pale Lager
You can be forgiven for thinking this light European style lager is a Stella Artois. It's crisp, bright, and the kind of beer you would want to drink all day long at the beach or bring to a barbecue. Like Omission, Estrella, which is a Spanish import, breaks down the gluten proteins after the beer is made. Unlike Omission, their process is proprietary.
Credit: Photograph by Michael Pirrocco