Gluten is my best friend. From bread to beer to seitan, if it has gluten in it, I’ll probably love it. While I may revel in all things glutinous there are some brave men and women out there that due to intolerance or disease simply can’t partake in the joy that is gluten and are forced to live a life without never-ending pasta bowls or cheesy bread.
Until very recently those afflicted with celiac disease or gluten intolerance have been forced to live a life without some of their most beloved food and drink, with the most notable exclusion being beer. Made primarily from barley, beer may not have an abundance of gluten in the finished product, but it’s more than enough for those suffering from celiac disease to be forced to abstain.
Thankfully the days of swearing off beer due to gluten are a thing of the past. Today there are a number of breweries and beers focusing on those not gifted with the ability to have gluten, helping them to life full, happy beer-inclusive lives. The most recent addition to this list in the Pittsburgh area comes to us via Canada and the Glutenberg Brewery.
The Founding of Glutenberg
The goal of Glutenberg Brewery is a simple one, to brew delicious beers that are on-par with other craft beers in the market, but to do so with zero gluten. More than a marketing trend, the brewery grew out of co-owner Julien Niquet’s own experience with celiac disease. Along with his long-time friend David Cayer, the pair founded Glutenberg in 2010 not only to help Julien to have the beer he was craving, but to help others like him to be able to enjoy beer like the rest of us.
Along with Julien and David, head brewer Gabriel Charbonneau make up the core team and after more than a year of research and development they released their first (and current flagship) beer, Glutenberg Blonde, into the market in Québec.
Fast-forward to today and Glutenberg offers a variety of gluten-free beers and distributes their beer in seven countries including Canada and the United States, which receives 50% of their total production.
Glutenberg Brewery features more than twenty seasonal beers and five year-round beers. They employ four full-time brewers that utilize the brewery’s sixteen fermentation and conditioning tanks to give gluten-free beer lovers around the world the best beer possible.
So how does one brew a gluten-free beer? When talking about beer on its most basic level, there are four primary ingredients: water, barley, hops, and yeast. As you may have guessed, the gluten in a typical beer comes from the barley, which is the grain the beer is brewed with. To create a truly gluten-free beer, the barley must be replaced entirely with a grain that doesn’t have gluten in it. This may seem easy, but without getting into the science behind brewing and the need for certain enzymes found in barley, you’ll just have to believe me that it’s not easy to do. It’s even harder to brew a gluten-free beer that actually tastes good, too!
Glutenberg uses millet, buckwheat, corn, quinoa, and amaranth to brew their beers. These grains may seem exotic, but they give Glutenberg the ability to brew 100% gluten-free beers that lack nothing in taste when compared to their gluten-full counterparts.
There’s no magical gluten removal process or secret sauce that makes these beers gluten-free, just hard work, quality ingredients, and a specialized brewing process that meets the needs of the grains being used. In the end we have a lineup of beers that look great, taste great, and help those required to stave off gluten to enjoy great beer.
While that’s all nice and fine, it’s the finished product that has the final say on how good the brewery, ingredients, and process truly are, and the beers from Glutenberg truly speak for themselves. Since we haven’t perfected the inclusion of beer samples with every magazine just yet (trust me, I’m trying!) I’ll have to speak for these beers until you’re able to find them in the wild and try them for yourselves.
Even if you’re of the gluten-enabled masses the beers from Glutenberg are work a try, as there’s truly nothing lacking from them other than the gluten that I’m sure you won’t miss. Take it from me, a pro-gluten fanatic that now likes gluten-free beer.
While Glutenberg features more than 25 different beers offered around the world, Pittsburgh will be starting off with their 4 most popular brews to get us started with a life less gluten-y. Each of these beers are available in 16oz cans and on draft.
The first beer released by Glutenberg and their current flagship beer, their Blonde ale comes in at 4.5% ABV and 15 IBUs with a light, lemony character with floral, herbal notes. Think pepper, pears, and fennel with some lemon peel on the finish. Their Blonde ale is brewed with millet, corn, and demerara sugar as the fermentable base.
Glutenberg Brewery IPA is 6% ABV, 76 IBU, and a shining example of what a great IPA should be. There is a severe lack of quality gluten-free IPAs in the craft beer market, which is why Glutenberg put so much thought and care into making theirs. While this beer may have zero PPM gluten content, it’s full of citrus aroma, fresh hop flavor, and a sharp kick of bitterness. Expect to find lemon and floral notes on the nose with apricot and bitterness on the middle and finish. Glutenberg IPA is brewed with millet, buckwheat, corn, black rice, and corn maltodextrin.
Showing their French-Canadian roots, Glutenberg’s White Ale is better known as Blanche, and no, that’s not a reference to my favorite Golden Girl, but rather the fancy way to say white in French. Blanche is a 5% ABV, 13 IBU beer that has everything you’d expect from a true Belgian White. While traditional versions of this beer feature wheat, the Glutenberg iteration utilizes buckwheat, millet, amaranth, and quinoa, making it one of the most complex beers brewed by the guys in Canada. Along with these ingredients you’ll find more traditional ones like coriander and orange peel, too. The quinoa and amaranth give this beer a notably “grainy” character that helps mimic the mouthfeel of a true Belgian White that’s brewed with wheat.
Referencing their French-speaking roots yet again is the last of the initial launch beers for our area from Glutenberg with their Rousse, or Red for those of us less French-enabled. Rousse comes in at 5% ABV and 24 IBUs, and while it may have no gluten in it, it does come with a World Beer Cup win as well as four Canadian Brewing Awards.
Glutenberg’s take on the classic red ale starts with aromas of roasted nuts, coffee, and caramel and follows up with tastes of toasted bread, coffee, and chestnuts. To achieve such a consistent and remarkable beer without gluten in it, the guys at Glutenberg use buckwheat, millet, candi syrup, and quinoa in this beer alongside molasses and chestnuts to round this beer out and make a truly outstanding gluten-free red ale.
For those of us that can’t decide, Glutenberg also has a variety 4-pack featuring one of each beer so you can get a well-rounded dose of gluten-free beer and see that while there’s no flavor or aroma missing, the gluten most definitely is.