A man comes into a bar. Describes his favorite beer styles. Bar server chooses a beer for man and pours him a gluten-free Belgian White Ale, but doesn't mention the no gluten part. Man enjoys beer and asks what it is. Server tells him. "Really?!" he replies, both surprised and satisfied.
The brewing industry is opening up to gluten-free brewing and this is allowing those with gluten intolerance or Celiac's Disease to enjoy great beers. This micro-section of beer is evolving quickly, and some brews are so delicious they have earned favor among mainstream beer drinkers. Here at Ardent, we are proud to be part of this effort and every month at our open brew days (last Sunday of every month), we brew small batches of experimental brews, many of them gluten-free. Manager Lincoln Smith heads up this work and every few months at our Pilot Nights, we put the newest beers on tap and open up the bar to feedback and discussion, just like our early co-op brewing days in the garage.
Rather than make gluten reduced beers, where an enzyme is added to a regular batch of beer, Lincoln focuses on brewing with gluten-free grains and alternate sources of fermentable sugar sources, like chestnuts, molasses, and figs. The idea is to make a beer that someone with any level of gluten intolerance can enjoy without having a negative reaction. This month we are featuring some of the most exciting and wide-ranging gluten-free beers to date:
- 1 / Session IPA (3.8% ABV). Made with Azacca Hops, which gives this beer a grassy, piney, and stone fruit aroma and flavor.
- 2 / Pumpernickel Porter. Lincoln adjusted his original recipe to make it gluten-free by brewing a Baltic Porter, then lagered it and dosing it with Pumpernickel tea in the fermenter. This beer required research on classic Pumpernickel and Russian Black Bread recipes, and the whole crew is looking forward to trying it.
- 3 / Belgian White Ale. This is one of Lincoln's first gluten-free beers and he has refined this version through additional research. He malted his own quinoa, and used grains from a certified gluten-free maltster in Colorado (mostly millet, buckwheat and oats), which could lead to more collaborations in the future.
Why our focus on gluten-free? The core inspiration came from Lincoln's son Milo, who has Celiac's Disease. His family is devoted to gluten-free cooking and this extends all the way into Milo's future eating and drinking. "I would like my son to be able to enjoy a good beer when he is old enough," says Lincoln. "He is six now, so I have plenty of time to perfect this." Second, it is the feedback and encouragement from out guests with low gluten tolerance or Celiac's - who have been unable to drink beer - that have enjoyed our brews with no adverse reactions. And finally, it is even the smile from an unassuming customer who loved that gluten-free Belgian White Ale.
Join us for our sixth Pilot Night Friday, July 8 to try these new brews!