By: Kaarina Robson
Photo by: John Robson
Excited to show off our wonderful craft beer scene to a tourist friend, I was dismayed to find out she was gluten free, due to health reasons. My enthusiasm turned to panic, considering we were in line for a beer at the time, so I frantically scanned the menu board for something she could drink. Giving up, we went to a bar for cocktails. Fast forward several years, and local offerings have expanded to include some gluten-reduced and gluten-free options for the gluten-less.
So what’s the difference between gluten-free and gluten-reduced beer anyway? By American standards, beer isn’t considered gluten-free if it’s made with barley or wheat, so other ingredients, such as sorghum, quinoa, rice, and millet, are used instead. Gluten-reduced beer uses an enzyme to break down gluten, drastically lowering the gluten content of the finished beer. Here are some tasty options I found on my gluten-less quest.
Fort Collins Brewery (FCB):
>> Lagerhosen, Munich Helles
This pretty, golden lager is one of two gluten-reduced options at FCB. National Sales Manager Josh Hall explained that when first brewing this beer, they were looking for a straightforward and very approachable German lager. Because of its style and easy drinkability, it was destined to become a go-to for their tasting room regulars. They use classic German hops, which doesn’t give it too much bite, just a dry, crisp finish. I must admit, if no one told me, I would be clueless about any reduction in gluten; it’s THAT good.
>> Old Barn Brown, Oatmeal Brown Ale
This English ale is a collaborative effort with FCB’s neighbors across the street, Woodward. When sitting down with their team, Josh discovered several members are on a gluten-reduced diet, so he set out to construct a beer with them. 100 lbs. of oats later, a delightful beer that combines caramel and roasty nuttiness was created.
New Belgium Brewing Company:
>> Glütiny Pale Ale and Golden Ale
New Belgium crafted two lovely gluten-reduced beers. Pronounced, “glute-in-knee,” not to be confused with gluttony, the Pale Ale version is definitely for hop lovers. Light amber in color and crystal clear with a creamy, pillowy foam, the taste is classic with a hint of spice, pine, and citrus. The Golden Ale is lighter in color and taste and less hop-forward. The malty, sweeter side still packs a perfect crisp bite. The two types TASTE like beer. Very refreshing for hop-loving, gluten-free beer drinkers (and me, too)!
You can find Glütiny in bottles at New Belgium and retailers such as The Perfect Pour. Try the FCB beers on draft in the FCB tasting room.
Kaarina Robson is the founder of Cheers United, where she coordinates fun and unique brewery tour experiences for business professional groups. Find her at cheers-united.com or Instagram @cheers.united