First Draught: Glutenberg American Pale Ale, a gluten-free beer that also happens to be delicious


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Gluten free, but flavourful (Image: David Ort)

Every crusty baguette, every flaky croissant and every chewy pizza crust renews my appreciation for my digestive system’s ability to process gluten. I know that not everybody is so lucky, and that beer needs to be avoided entirely by some because barley, wheat and rye — the drink’s principal cereal ingredients — all produce gluten when mixed with water.

The Glutenberg line, and the American Pale Ale in particular, makes me think that I might be able to scratch beer from the list of pleasures I’d have to give up if I ever stopped eating gluten. With a mix of millet, buckwheat, corn and quinoa, Montreal’s Brasseurs Sans Gluten have created a beer that almost tastes like it was made with barley.

Without the bubble-supporting proteins that other beers get from barley, gluten-free beers have trouble raising a foamy head. The Glutenberg APA gives it a shot and produces a very open foam that isn’t perfect, but does the trick—visually, at least — over the pale amber liquid.

The surprises start with the aroma: it actually has the expected notes of grapefruit hops and juicy, slightly caramelized pineapple. The flavour completes the package with bitterness on the start and finish, and sweet notes of candied citrus peel in the middle. 

There is a good amount of refreshing carbonation, and the hint of quinoa’s odd flavour only shows itself at the very bottom of the glass, when the beer has warmed substantially.

If you are gluten intolerant and have wondered what the fuss is about hoppy, American-style craft beer, this bottle from Glutenberg is one of the better introductory courses. The Blonde and Rousse are also for sale in Toronto. Together, the trio swept the gluten-free category at the 2012 World Beer Cup.

The three award-winning Glutenberg beers are available through Keep6 Imports and at beer bars like Bar Hop and Indie Ale House, but also restaurants including the Fresh chain and Richmond Station. Expect the price to be a few dollars more than is typical for mainstream beer. 

Brasseurs Sans Gluten Glutenberg American Pale Ale, available at various locations throughout Toronto

In addition to covering beer, new restaurants and food trucks for Post City, David Ort writes about food and drink for several Toronto publications including Spotlight Toronto and his own site, Food With Legs. For more of his thoughts on food, beer and life in general, follow him on Twitter.

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