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.
Steadfast Golden Blonde Ale
Brewer: Steadfast Beer Company
Style: American Blond Ale
One of the few sorghum beers we could really get behind, Steadfast's ale, is a light Belgian-style beer with distinct citrus notes (from added orange peel) and a pleasant spice from coriander. The sorghum's distinct, not-all-that-beer-like sweetness is here, but it's nicely balanced with spices and limited hop use. No gluten ingredients were used here, with sorghum extract entirely replacing malt.