happy new year with gluten free beer!

photo credit: estrella dammThe subject of gluten free beer has been one of the most popular topics on the blog in 2010 so Andrea and I decided to update our original article on gluten free beer now that we have more information about where it's available.  The availability of gluten free beer is growing so we will keep our ‘whats happening’ section updated with more information as we find it.

There are a few brands of gluten free beer on the market, and several that are also available in Vancouver. These include Bards, Greens, La Messagere, and New Grist which is made by Lakefront Brewery. Others not currently available in Vancouver include Redbridge made by Anheuser-Busch, the manufacturer of Budweiser, and Estrella Damm Daura, a gluten free variety of the popular Estrella Damm from Spain.

What is gluten free beer made with?

Most gluten free beer is made with sorghum, rice, yeast, hops and water. Greens is one brand that uses buckwheat and millet as well. Gluten free beer also packs a bit of a punch, with an average of 4% alcohol content per volume.

What does gluten free beer taste like?

Gluten free beer does not taste like regular beer for most people. My only advice for those wishing to try it, is to not expect gluten free varieties to satisfy your craving for a Guinness. I tried Redbrige when I was in the US recently, and then tried Bards in Vancouver at the Irish Heather and Shebeen Whiskey House in Gastown a few weeks ago. I personally thought they both tasted great! Redbridge tasted the lightest of the two, and it resembles a honey pale ale. Our friends over at Gluten Free Edmonton really enjoyed Greens Amber Ale, but most reviews will tell you that New Grist and La Messagere are not very good.

Where can I find gluten free beer in Vancouver?

Bard's, made by the Bards Tale Beer Company, is the only brand that is made with 100% malted sorghum, a similar process to how traditional brewers malt barley. The founders of Bards are also celiac and have a great philosophy behind their business that is based on making gluten free products accessible to those that require it. Bards also has a great website that has a useful product locator listing with a corresponding map. I have only listed a few of the liquor stores below where Bards is available, but check out the map for other locations, there are many! click on one of the beer bottles in the home page to navigate the site.

beer and wine stores:
•BC Liquor Stores
•Lennox liquor store (city square shopping center)
•Legacy liquor store (olympic village)
•Granville Island Hotel Beer Store (granville island)
•Steamworks liquor store (gastown)
•Brewery Creek wine store (main street)
•Firefly Fine Wines and Ales (cambie corridor)
•Toby’s (commercial drive)

restaurants and pubs:
•Irish Heather/Shebeen Whiskey House (gastown)
Zipang Sushi (main street)
•The Wallflower (main street)
•Taylors Crossing (north vancouver)
•Hyatt Regency Hotel (downtown)
The Perch (grandview-woodlands)
•Rose & Crown pub (delta)
•Witch of Endor Neighborhood pub (maple ridge)
•Rock Cod Café (cowichan bay)
•Salt Spring Inn (salt spring island)
•Wild Bistro (gibsons)

Greens gluten free beer is brewed in Belgium and comes in three flavors; discovery amber ale, endeavor double dark, and quest triple blond. All are made with sorghum, millet, buckwheat and brown rice. Greens comes in one pint bottles (500 ml) and available as singles (other brands are sold in packs of 6).

beer and wine stores:
•Firefly Fine Wines and Ales (cambie corridor)
•Legacy liquor store (olympic village)
•Brewery Creek liquor store (main street)
•Libations liquor store (oak and west king edward)
•Viti Beer and Wine (at Moda Hotel) (downtown)

restaurants and bars:
Stella's Tap and Tapas Bar (commercial, cambie)

La Messagere is a light ale made with buckwheat and rice, and is brewed in Quebec by Bieres de la Nouvelle-France. Many reviews say La Messengere tastes more like a cider or ale than beer.

beer and wine stores:
•BC Liquor Stores
•Firefly Fine Wines and Ales

New Grist, made by Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee, was the first North American company to market gluten free beer in 2005. Lakefront can be also credited for changing legislation that previously defined ‘beer’ as having a minimum of 25% malted barley. Way to go Lakefront Brewery!

beer and wine stores:
•Firefly Fine Wine and Ales
•Legacy Liquor Store

I also found a great facebook page called Gluten Free Beer! that is a useful resource for those that want to connect and discuss gluten free beers with others.

We would love to hear your feedback on this topic! Leave us a comment if you have any thoughts to share about gluten free beer. Robyn.