Until very recently, if one happened to be intolerant to gluten or battling celiac disease, drinking a nice tall pint of hoppy India pale ale was out of the question.
Of course, gluten-free beers have been available for years. In the past, instead of using malted grain as a base for fermentation, these brews typically incorporated sorghum, a type of grass distantly related to sugarcane.
Breweries are finally meeting the demand for gluten-free hop-forward beers.
Truth be told, early gluten-free beers weren’t exactly praiseworthy. In fact, these beers were typically lambasted by craft beer aficionados for having no hop characteristics, and for being too sugary or metallic-tasting, or for just being plain bad.
While some breweries still use sorghum to brew gluten-free beer, in addition to experimental brewing techniques, certain producers have found that adding hops can mask the sorghum's undesirable flavors. But now, with the increased availability of flavorful gluten-free grains from around the world, breweries are finally meeting the demand for hop-forward beers, like IPA’s, that are really tasty and sans gluten.
3 gluten-free Ipa Beers TO TRY (and 1 cider):
Glutenberg India Pale Ale
Brasseurs Sans Gluten, Montréal, Québec Canada
There's a wonderful 76 IBU hop presence in this Canadian-made IPA brewed with millet, buckwheat, corn, black rice, candi syrup, hops, and yeast. Glutenberg Brewing Company was, in fact, co-founded by a gluten-intolerant beer lover who longed for gluten-free beer to taste like the real deal. This golden, 6 percent ABV West Coast-style IPA has floral and grassy aromatics, followed by notes of caramel, stone fruit, and tangerine. Expect a straightforward beer with a strong hop backbone and a nice dry finish.
Green's India Pale Ale
DeProef Brouwerij, Gent, Belgium
This garnet-colored Belgian-brewed IPA is made with millet, buckwheat, rice, and sorghum, producing a malt-forward 6 percent ABV ale. Look for grass and pepper on the nose, with a waft of strawberry and toasty caramel flavors, followed by herbal and piney notes. The pronounced bitter hop presence (60 IBUs) comes from the addition of big hops like fruity Simcoe and Nelson, and citrusy Amarillo, with malty sweetness lingering in the finish.
Omission Beer by Widmer Bros., Portland, OR
This highly sessionable Northwest-style IPA is actually brewed with barley, which contains gluten. But, according to Omission, the beer has been "specially crafted to remove the gluten content." Anticipate toffee notes, with citrus rind and fresh baked bread on the nose. Note the beer's malty sweetness up front, with slight notes of pear. This beer has a very light mouthfeel, belying its 6.7 percent ABV, and lifts right off the palate in a way more reminiscent of an Old World type of IPA. However, Omission IPA finishes nice and dry, with a bitter Northwest hoppy bite thanks to big American Cascade and Summit hops.
India Pale Cider
101 Cider House, Westlake Village, CA
Ciders, by definition, are the fermented juice of apples, and therefore are gluten-free. However, many hopheads will poo poo ciders because they want that hoppy bite instead of apple sweetness. This India Pale Cider, made from only fresh pressed apples and hops, gives anti-glutites a chance at happiness with deliciously tart, sour, acidic, citrusy and wild-fermented flavors like a classic Lambic Ale. After fermentation and aging, this 6 percent ABV cider is dry-hopped with Citra hops, giving the beer a super dry but tropical finish.