Chicagoist's Beer of the Week: Goose Island's "Queen-OA Gluten Free Ale"

By Samantha Abernethy in Food on Jan 13, 2012 11:00PM

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Chuck Sudo/Chicagoist

For those who don't know, gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and oats that is harmful to individuals with Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that affects an estimated 1 in 133 people. It has no cure other than managing symptoms by eliminating gluten from the diet. Some doctors also recommend losing gluten for people who suffer from migraines, for those with intestinal diseases like Crohn's and many other issues.

The gluten free diet has gotten a reputation lately for being some sort of health food trend, and the word "diet" erroneously suggests one would lose weight. For most who follow a gluten free diet, it's serious. A breadcrumb can result in serious health consequences. Following a gluten free diet means regular breads, pizzas and baked goods are out of question, and a beer is basically a pint glass full of gluten.

Well, the folks at Goose Island are taking gluten free seriously, and they created a tasty beer for it. Last week the brewery on Clybourn introduced "Queen-OA," a beer made without gluten ingredients.

"You should be able to go to your pub and get a gluten free beer," said Goose Island Brewmaster Jared Rouben. He said the beer hasn't been certified gluten free, but they take lengths to ensure the ingredients are not cross-contaminated with gluten from other sources. If the beer is successful, they plan to move ahead with the certification process.

Rouben said the beer was developed after a year of research. "We really wanted to do our homework on this beer," he said. Rouben tried every gluten free beer he could. Then he talked to Chicago's gluten free community.

It uses the grain quinoa, unlike most gluten free beers, which are made with sorghum that adds sweetness. The grain on its own is somewhat nutty in flavor, but that doesn't come through in Queen-oa. The grapefruit and orange peel dominate with citrusy notes. It's complex, but not dense. It's definitely more of a refreshing summertime flavor, but it's not sweet like most gluten free beers.

Ultimately, it's not just good for a gluten free beer. It's a good beer that happens to not contain gluten. Queen-OA is on tap at the Goose Island Brewery at 1800 N. Clybourn. Growlers are available, too.