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Gluten-Reduced Beer Doesn't Have To Suck: Try Stone Brewing's Delicious IPA

By Jenny Pfafflin in Food on Aug 11, 2015 7:47PM

For beer lovers with gluten allergies or an intolerance, there are now more ways to quench your thirst—either through cider or the growing number of gluten-free or gluten-reduced beers.

But first, some legalese: In order to label a beer gluten-free in the U.S., it must be brewed with ingredients that are also gluten-free—so, rather than using traditional beer grain bills that include barley, wheat, or rye, brewers have started experimenting with alternative, gluten-free grains like sorghum, rice, quinoa, buckwheat or millet.

There are several beers that successfully use these grains in order to market their beers gluten-free—like New Grist from Milwaukee’s Lakefront Brewery, which was the first gluten-free beer to get label approval by the U.S. government, or Dogfish Head’s Tweasonale, made from sorghum and strawberries. Glutenberg is a Canadian brewery that devotes its entire portfolio to being gluten-free—they produce five gluten-free beers, ranging from an American IPA to a Belgian Wit.

However, some say that gluten-free beers tend to lack some of the flavor that malted barley and other gluten-containing cereal grains provide. But some innovating brewers have found they can use an enzyme known as Brewers Clarex to remove the gluten from normal beer. It achieves this by chopping up the gluten-containing proteins to such as small size that the antibodies in a person’s body with a gluten intolerance or allergy cannot detect them.

Two beers using this gluten-reducing enzyme are Two Brothers’ Prairie Path and Widmer Brothers’ line of Omission beers.

Since Prairie Path and Omission are brewed with gluten-containing ingredients, they can’t be legally marketed at gluten-free, even though testing reports show that Prairie Path contains less than 5PPM gluten, while Omission contains less than 10PPM. If it were a regular food item, you could label it gluten-free, as the final product contains less than 20 PPM of gluten but the TTB is holding off on allowing this while the FDA reviews the science on gluten removal in fermented foods like beer.

One newer entry into the gluten-reduced beer market is Stone Brewing’s Delicious IPA. Stone provides gluten reports for each batch brewed.

Delicious is quintessential Stone—driven by the appropriately-named newer hop varietal Lemondrop, it’s an endlessly drinkable beer, full of lemon candy, herbal and tropical fruit flavors balanced by the beer’s moderate bitterness. For the winding-down summer weeks, it would pair well with a grilled, fatty fish like salmon, accompanied by grilled lemon and asparagus, whether or not you're watching your gluten intake.

Both Two Brothers and Stone recommend drinking their gluten-reduced offering by the bottle—although you might find Prairie Path or Delicious IPA on draft at your favorite bar. Unless there’s a dedicated line to the beer, it might be at risk for cross-contamination, since there could be gluten build-up in the lines from beers previous poured from that tap handle.

But remember, with any gluten-reduced beer, it’s “buyer beware”— since these beers still contain trace amounts of gluten, some drinkers still may be sensitive to it. Fortunately, the less than 20 PPM inmost of these gluten-reduced offerings seem to not affect most drinkers. Like the gluten-intolerant beer drinkers from a Two Brothers taste panel said, “I can finally drink a beer that tastes like beer.”