‘Tis the season to set resolutions! If your goal revolves around your health and fitness, keep in mind your liquid diet. But there’s no need to leave your carbonated companion behind. Beer can still be part of “new year, new you.”
Everyone knows beer has gluten and giving up beer sucks. So don’t do it. Gluten-free (GF) beers are evolving and worthy of your palate. Malts (usually malted grains such as barley or wheat) provide the sugars needed for yeast to metabolize and create unique flavors/aromas and most important, alcohol; so we REALLY love malt. But not all malt has gluten; naturally, GF grains include rice, oats, and corn. High Hops brews a fantastic GF blackberry kettle sour, Puckerberry, that won gold at the 2018 Great American Beer Festival. Brewed with malted millet and buckwheat from Grouse Malting in Wellington, this light bodied ale has a deep sunset pink hue with an easy ABV (alcohol by volume) of 4.5% and a slight pucker that even the non-sour lovers can appreciate. Besides seeking out beer brewed with GF malts, look out for gluten-reduced (GR) beers. Clarex or Clarity Ferm are enzymes that when added during fermentation significantly reduce the level of gluten and allows breweries to claim their product is GF because they meet international standards (below 20ppm). But the majority of breweries don’t test the level of gluten after using this enzyme, because of cost, so depending on your level of commitment to a GF lifestyle, it may be worth digging a little deeper into the specific beer you choose to drink. When shopping for local GF/GR beers, keep an eye out for a few of my favorite breweries producing beer that make you forget your new dietary restriction: Odd 13, Holidaily and Brewery Rickoli.
Most people have heard of milk stouts — thank you Left Hand Brewing —but have you tried a milkshake beer? You might have seen a few milkshake sours, but it’s mostly a milkshake IPA taking over your pint glass. Lactose, commonly referred to as milk sugar, is added to the end of the boil during the brew process and is unfermentable by brewer’s yeast. The finished product results in a delicious sweetness and a creamy mouth-feel. And, when you add fruit purees, such as pineapple or mango, and a fruity hop varietal such as galaxy or citra, it’s easy to see why it’s referred to as a milkshake IPA. While lactose is not technically milk, if you are eliminating dairy products from your diet, your stomach will no longer produce the enzyme that breaks down lactose; so drinking a milkshake IPA will not be a pleasurable experience.
Also, keep an eye out for sweet stouts and cream ales. Traditional cream ales do not contain cream, but breweries may take liberties with modern cream ales. If a beer has yummy descriptors like pie, cake or creamy, be skeptical and read the ingredients. Still unsure? Message the brewery on social media. WeldWerks is the king of interesting milkshake beers; think Dragon Fruit Guava Milkshake IPA, Pina Colada Milkshake, Coffee Milkshake IPA. As someone who is recently dairy-free, I reached out to Weldwerks when they released their Eggnog Barleywine to double check there was no lactose and they quickly responded. Side note, it was “egg”cellent.
No specific restriction, just looking to tighten up your diet? If you want to cut carbs, then yes, you have to cut beer, but if you are looking to cut calories, then continue to read. Calories are directly related to alcohol content; think lower ABV, lower calories. Alcohol is made by fermenting sugar and sugar is high in calories. More sugar is needed to create higher alcohol beers. Therefore, the lower the ABV, the lower the calories. This is not always the case, but it’s a good rule of thumb when choosing a beer. A few local favorites low in ABV: Odell Sippin’ Pretty (4.5%), Upslope Craft Lager (4.8%), New Belgium Mural (4.2%).
Forget sports drinks. Replenish your electrolytes with beer! Avery created Go Play IPA, adding sodium and potassium to a tropical, juicy IPA you can take along on your next mountain biking adventure or foothills hike!
No matter your resolution, the key to success is adjusting your habits, not restricting your happiness! And if beer makes you happy, then by all means, have a freakin’ beer!