I’d recently tried a gluten-free beer and came away wanting. Gluten-free beer does not contain wheat, barley, or rye, so I was a bit reticent to try New Planet’s Gluten Free Blonde Ale and Pale Ale. http://www.newplanetbeer.com/ The previous unnamed GFB simply lacked in depth and character. Things didn’t bode well for the anticipated New Planet experience.
Still, we are all about the activism at Revolution and Beer. I resolved that if the beer itself was disappointing, the cause was noble enough. New Planet is a champion for suffers of Celiac’s Disease, which causes the immune system of suffers to, in the presence of Gluten, attack and damage the small intestine, inhibiting the absorption of crucial nutrients. Not exactly a Light beer commercial.
But here’s the amazing part, the moment when activism and beer meet is absolutely perfect. We had that experience a number of times while filming our upcoming television series. Folks who had done lots of media previously sat down at the bar, took a drink of beer and found how revolutionary a forum it was. There is nothing so personal and intimate as sitting at the bar with friends, new and old, and hashing things out over a good beer. And when the conversation gets a bit heated, we bring it back to the beer.
And so I’m bringing it back to New Planet’s GFB. The trick is in the brewing process, but also appeasing expectations for beer lovers. Without Rye, Wheat and barley, that’s a bit of a challenge. Gluten-free beer is normally made with thick, concentrated syrupy gluten-free sorghum extract. Add a bit of rice syrup or corn dextrose and a brewer can nicely boost the alcohol content. Hops add bitterness, flavor, and aroma to beer. The different varieties of hops brings their own unique characteristic to each beer, offering citrus, fruity, floral, spicy, herbal, or resin notes.
Awareness of Celiac’s Disease has helped changed the market, just as designated drivers did for non-alcoholic brews. For the purist, does that translate into an assault on beer? Recall, as we discussed in a previous piece, that technically every beer violates the old German purity law, the Reinheitsgebot, which back in 1516 did not understand the importance of yeast, And so in not including yeast in the officially sanctioned ingredients for beer, all beer violates that law. So no, GFB simply innovates to encompass fellow beer lovers burdened with this disorder.
And that’s all well and good, but what does New Planet”s GFBs taste like? That is the ultimate question. And what sort of foods would pair best with this Blonde Ale and Pale Ale? The Pale Ale comes in at a modest 5%ABV, and poured into a pint glass to an amber color with a crisp white ½ inch head, and some modest lacing. The color derived from molasses, and gluten-free corn-based caramel color. The first impression was of fruity and citrus notes, finishing with a comfortably and pleasant hoppy bite, and was a bit on the dry side. I was surprised by the depth of flavor, and found it a satisfying beer, which I would enjoy gluten or no-gluten.
New Planet’s Blonde Ale poured to a clear golden hue, with fine carbonation through the center of the glass. There wasn’t much of a head to note, but the beer did hold its carbonation adequately. My initial impression was that fans of sours would find this a nice beer, falling between a young pilsner and a sour. The aroma was subdued but floral. That slightly sour first taste, was rounded out with hints of orange and honey. Again, at 5%, I found this a very comfortable and enjoyable beer.
I’d reached out to Carole Cooper, author of Simply Healthy Gourmet(http://www.simplynaturalgourmet.com/) for a food pairing, in keeping with a gluten-free diet. She recommended grilled Lake Superior Whitefish or Trout and Roasted Rosemary and Garlic Fingerling potatoes which helped the hops, caramel and grapefruit notes to pop nicely. My addition to the fingerling potatoes is to press those potatoes ever so slightly to open them up, and let the olive oil, garlic and rosemary inside. For the Blonde Ale, Carole liked her Virgin Olive oil Poached Tuna steak with roasted small potatoes, tomato and olives.
It doesn’t always happen that way, activism and beer coming together so neatly. When it does, it underscores how well those two seemingly disparate worlds fit. And that, my dear friends, is what I like to call the sweet spot.
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