New Planet Brewery by Ricky Perrotta
A new year is often seen as a time for new beginnings and fresh perspectives. For many, with every January 1st comes the opportunity to shrug off the travails of the old year and re-imagine oneself. The possibilities, as well as the resolutions, are endless…but many of them deal solely with health concerns. “I’m going to lose weight,” is a common refrain. “I’m going to start exercising!” is another. Some will start running, some will give up potato chips, some will even buy vegetarian or vegan cookbooks. Suddenly “new beginnings” and “fresh perspectives” do not sound so alluring.
Well, New Planet Beer Company, a brewery based in Boulder, Colorado might offer the opportunity to put the excitement back in your New Year’s resolutions with their wonderful line of 100% gluten-free craft beers. By now, it is safe to assume that everyone has heard about the gluten-free movement. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and other grains such as barley, rye, and oats. Astute readers (and not-so-astute readers) will quickly come to the depressing conclusion that without wheat, barley, rye, and oats there is precious little chance of creating traditional malts. Without malts, we’re living in a world without our favorite beverage.
Pedro Gonzalez, founder of New Planet Beer Company, has an alternative even if it was one that was thrust upon him. Mr. Gonzalez, like one out of 133 people in America, suffers from celiac disease, a condition which causes its carriers to react negatively to gluten. He was told he would never drink craft beer again. Understandably, this diagnosis was untenable to the man. Rather than live a life without beer, Mr. Gonzalez decided to do something about it – he began brewing beer out of brown rice and sorghum. On its own, brown rice does not produce enough of the enzymes needed to degrade starches into fermentable sugars. So sorghum, a millet-like grain popular in Africa and Asia as a source of protein, is used to bring the enzyme levels up to par and create the malt. The result is a line of beers that only three years ago could only be found in Colorado, but is now distributed in an impressive 46 states, including Pennsylvania. It can be found in Pittsburgh thanks to Vecenie Distributing Company.
I was fortunate enough to speak with New Planet’s marketing manager, the very cordial Peter Archer. I feel like I’m mentioning this about the people at every brewery for which I write an article, but one would never know that Mr. Archer works for such a successful brewery. He is energetic and amiable, once again proving the tried and true theory that beer lovers are good people. Mr. Archer compared the difference between “normal” beers and gluten-free beers to the difference between “red wine and white wine.” He says, “The process by which they are made is exactly the same. It’s just the ingredients that are different, leading to different flavors.” Because gluten-free beers are not made from the so-called traditional ingredients, they will not have what people think of as the distinctive craft beer taste. However, they are just as capable of having complex, nuanced flavors and textures. The idea of “traditional” ingredients and “non-traditional” ingredients may very well be the next thing to go as the craft beer movement carries on. After all, it was not long ago that rye beers were relatively rare.
New Planet is truly, as Mr. Archer says, “Pioneering” 100% gluten-free beers. They are the first American brewery to make a gluten-free Belgian ale, a gluten-free pale ale, a gluten-free raspberry ale, a gluten-free brown ale, and a gluten-free amber ale. Before New Planet, the only gluten-free beers were lagers. New Planet is also “in full compliance with Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TBB) Ruling 2012-2 and can therefore be labeled and advertised as gluten-free.” As their website, newplanetbeer.com, tells us, “The TTB believes that the qualifying statement is necessary to avoid misleading consumers about the gluten content of (certain) products because of the serious health consequences associated with the consumption of gluten by individuals with celiac disease.”
2013 is winding down, but 2014 will be here soon and with it, the opportunity for new beginnings and fresh perspectives. If you suffer from celiac disease, want to try a gluten-free lifestyle, or just want to try a new and exciting craft beer, try New Planet. It has already become a staple of the ever-growing beer market, not just in Pittsburgh, but all across America.
New Planet Beers:
Pale Ale – New Planet Beer’s Pale Ale – Formerly Off Grid Pale Ale – is reminiscent of a classic American Pale Ale, offering bold hop character and rich caramel and grapefruit notes with a clean yet distinctly hoppy finish. The making of this Pale Ale involves 3 types of hops – Centennial, Cascade, and Sterling. The hop bitterness contrasts with spicy, heat-charred, smoky, or aromatic flavors, such as blue cheese, barbeque, seafood, and Asian spiced dishes. 6.4% ABV.
Amber Ale – A truly drinkable amber ale with a balanced malt profile, lightly toasted caramel notes and subtle citrus hints on the finish. Made with Simcoe and Sterling hops. Pair with BBQ pork and brisket, milder and fuller flavor cheese like Gouda, or veggie options such as eggplant or Portobello mushrooms.
Blonde Ale – Light and refreshing, Blonde Ale – Formerly known as Tread Lightly Ale – offers bright notes of honey and a subtle floral aroma with a crisp clean finish. Made with Cascade hops. New Planet also uses orange peels in the brewing of this beer, adding a refreshing citrus flavor. Lighter foods pair best with the Blonde Ale given it’s more straight forward taste profile. Try Monterey Jack cheese or similar light, nutty cheese, grilled chicken, salmon, or bratwurst, or fish or shrimp tacos. 6.0%
Raspberry Ale – Formerly known as 3R Raspberry Ale, this delightfully drinkable ale offers a crisp, yet complex, balance of subtle fruit flavor and aroma, with a zesty, citrusy finish. Brewed with natural raspberry puree and orange peel. The Raspberry Ale is also made with Cascade hops. Best paired with foods driven by herbs and spices, especially fruit elements. Try light, white meats with a fruit glaze, salads with fruit based dressings, deserts such as mascarpone cheese, chiffon cakes, and soufflés, or dark chocolate. 5.0% ABV.
Belgian Ale – An ale created with a distinctly Belgian character. Bright, crisp and refreshing with subtle spice and honey notes. Due to the spice, citrus, and honey notes, the Belgian Ale pairs beautifully with a range of dishes including light seafood’s, sharp cheeses, and spring green salads with grilled salmon or chicken and a citrus based vinaigrette. 6.8% ABV.
Brown Ale – This award-winning ale is rich in character and depth, highlighted by coffee and chocolate flavors, with subtle cinnamon and vanilla notes on the finish brewed with Centennial and Sterling hops. The smooth malt texture makes for great pairings with earthier-style cheeses, hearty sausages and full-flavored grilled meats, and deserts such as black-forest cake, raspberry tart, and fudge. 6.0% ABV.
For more information about New Plant Brewery visit www.newplanetbeer.com