Go With the Flow: The Rise of Gluten-Free Beer | Food

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OWhen my beer-loving buddy Rick told me a few years ago that he could now only drink gluten-free varieties, I felt sorry for him, having to scour the shelves for something suitable. Now, however, I don’t because there are so many well-made gluten-free beers out there that it’s often hard to tell them apart from the conventionally produced ones.

Rick is not alone: ​​10% of UK consumers now follow a gluten-free diet, according to celiac UKand they suffer from symptoms ranging from a stuffy nose to life-threatening damage to the intestinal lining that prevents the body from absorbing key nutrients.

Conventionally made beer is the culprit, as beer is made from malted barley (and sometimes wheat), both of which contain gluten. In order to meet the official goal of less than 20 parts per million, brewers must either use different grains or remove gluten. More and more, they are choosing to do the latter, thanks in part to an incredibly effective enzyme called Brewers Clarex which was originally used to clarify beer.

The process, while simple, is relatively expensive, primarily due to the cost of specialist testing. “You have to test every batch,” says Robert Wicks of Westerham Brewery. “If you care about people’s health, you’re not kidding.” Brewers must also take care to avoid cross-contamination during the brewing and packaging processes. If you’re on the celiac end of the spectrum, you may also want the added reassurance of buying from a brewery that specializes in gluten-free beers – Green’s, Hepworth and Westerham are good examples.

Most of the beers I tried for this column were light beers which brewers also took advantage of to meet the growing demand for lower alcohol beers. “We opted for 3.5% for our Jandals & Togs [see today’s pick]because we are often asked,” says Colin Paige of Round corner brewing.

To be honest, I’ve left out as many great beers as I’ve listed below. You might also like to try Arbor’s Motueka 4% Lager (£4.40 for 568ml of Hop Burns & Black), the widely available 3.9% Saucery Session IPA from Magic Rock (£6 for four 330ml cans at MorrisonsWhere £6.50) and Vocation’s 4.4% Heart & Soul Session IPA (£2 per 440ml can straight from the brewery). That said, I also tried a few cheaper examples and wasn’t impressed.

Given the abundance of good gluten-free beers these days, there’s also no excuse for pubs not to stock them or train their staff to indicate which beers on offer are gluten-free, which which is a great frustration among gluten intolerant people. . Some beers, like Saucery, don’t make a big deal out of being gluten-free, but all the information is there on the can.

Five of the best gluten-free beers

Round Corner Brewing Jandals & Togs £2.40 a 330ml can (or £26 for 12) roundcornerbrewing.com, 3.5%. Generously hopped beer, ridiculously more indulgent. Ideal for the beach (“jandals and togs: being a Kiwi expression for flip flops and bathers).

Westerham Helles Belles Helles Lager 4%.  A 440ml can this time.

Westerham Helles Belles blond beer £2.45 a 440ml can (or £14.30 for a six-pack), 4%. Impeccably made, clean and fresh German-style lager from a brewery specializing in gluten-free beers.

Bottle of Hepworth and Co The Right Stuff Organic APA

Hepworth & Co The Right Stuff Organic APA £2.90 per 500ml bottle Abel & Cole£31.32 for 12 hepworth-brewery.myshopify.com, 5%. A more classic, stronger ale: rich and hoppy with a nice hint of bitterness. Bottle packaged too.

Wiper and True Lemondrop Hill Can of gluten-free lager beer, with a golden light bulb on it.

Wiper And True Lemondrop Hill Gluten Free Pale Ale £3.50 a 440ml can of Left Field beer, £19 for six Wiper and True, 4%. Refreshing citrusy, summery session ale. Almost like a shandy (in a good way).

Green's Grand India Pale Ale 5% bottle

Green’s Grand India Pale Ale £2.50 per 330ml bottle of Ocado, £27 for 12 gluten-free beers.co.uk, 5%. Curiously different, almost spicy, but still pleasantly hoppy. Green’s brews this in Belgium with gluten-free grains, namely buckwheat, millet and sorghum.

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