Posted on January 26th, 2010
Beer is enjoyed by all sorts of people from all walks of life. Unfortunately, there are some out there who are unable to enjoy most beer because of an intolerance to gluten. This protein mixture is found in a variety of different grains such as barley, wheat and rye. Those who suffer from celiac disease and other forms of gluten intolerance can’t consume gluten in any form without serious health risks. Such a condition makes enjoying beer a very difficult proposition as almost all of the grains commonly used to make beer contain gluten. Fortunately there are alternative brews out there, ones which make use of gluten-free grains to make a more easily digestible brew. Today we’re going to take a look at one of those.
The most common approach to brewing gluten-free beer is using sorghum, a grass like plant native to Northeast Africa in place of other grains. It has been a primary ingredient in traditional African brewing for many generations and is a particularly resilient crop, able to survive in arid climates. American brewers have recently adopted it as an alternative grain to produce gluten-free beer.
Today there are not many brewers producing gluten-free beer. Bard’s out of Minneapolis is a growing craft brewery which specializes in gluten free brews, and in the UK, there is Green’s. The most prevalent sorghum based beer on the market is Redbridge, produced by Anheuser-Busch. It’s usually classified as an amber or red ale, although I would argue these beers should really be evaluated on their own. The flavors of sorghum beer are too different from traditional beer to consider it an alternative version of amber ale. Unfortunately, most brewers who make sorghum beer have failed to explore the unique flavors and potential of this alternative grain. Hopefully a craft brewer will step up and explore all that sorghum has to offer. Until then, we’re stuck with sorghum beers that poorly mimics the taste of traditional styles. Sorghum beer tends to be less sweet and grainer than your average beer. They’re somewhat similar in taste to rye beer but lack rye’s bitterness. In any case, it’s something any serious beer drinker should try once.