In a free market, quality often improves when consumer choice increases, and this scenario is having a positive impact on the market for gluten-free beer.
Not surprisingly, the recent growth in available brands of gluten-free beer is attributed to the increasing recognition of general gluten sensitivity and serious autoimmune disorders like celiac disease. To satisfy the rising demand for beer among consumers who want to avoid ingesting gluten, some brewers are turning to wheat and barley alternatives like sorghum, a species of grass cultivated in warm climates worldwide and that is commonly used to produce sugary syrup known as “sorghum molasses.”
One of these brewers is Lakefront Brewery, Inc., from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Lakefront started in 1987 after a sibling rivalry between two brothers (the owners) over who could make a better homebrew. This rivalry eventually developed into a full-fledged business. Lakefront is notable for brewing and selling “Organic ESB” which is the oldest government-certified organic beer still on the market. Organic ESB uses 100% organic malt AND hops.
Lakefront’s entry into the gluten-free beer market is known as “NEW GRIST Beer”, and the story of how it first arrived on the shelves is an interesting one. Prior to 2006, the federal government mandated that “beer” had to be made with no less than 25% malted barley. This meant that gluten-free, alcoholic beverages could not officially be classified as beer. Ignoring the old saying that you can’t fight city hall, the owners approached the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Tax and Trade bureau and successfully lobbied for a change in policy that enabled them to brew, market and sell NEW GRIST Beer. NEW GRIST now falls under the FDA’s jurisdiction, hence the need for nutrition information on the six-pack.
I’ve had several bottles of NEW GRIST, and I can honestly say: I like it.
One of the first things I noticed about NEW GRIST is that it tastes like beer. While that may seem like an obvious quality for a beer to have, if you’ve sampled other gluten-free beers you’ll understand why I think it’s important to mention. Gluten-free beers ARE different from standard beer, and that difference is most obviously demonstrated in the taste, which tends to be sweeter and slightly drier than standard beer due to the high sugar content of the sorghum. Most people, especially beer connoisseurs, will notice the difference between standard beer and gluten-free beer with the first sip.
NEW GRIST is definitely sweeter than standard beer, but it’s not as sweet as other gluten-free beers. It has a fuller body, and a stronger hoppy flavor than most gluten-free beers, too. The aftertaste is mild but consistent, with a good blend of carbonation and bitters. I heartily recommend NEW GRIST, especially to folks who want to avoid gluten but enjoy a tasty beer.
P.S. If you have tried NEW GRIST Gluten-Free Beer I’d love to hear your opinion.
For More Reviews of Gluten Free Beer see: Redbridge & TOLERATION
I work for a very large beer distributor here in Phoenix, AZ, and we distribute Lakefront New Grist. I have (obviously) tried just about every type of beer imaginable, and I have to say that while most of my “true beer aficionado” co-workers don’t like it, I actually do think it is very drinkable – especially when you really want to have a beer and you’re trying SO HARD to stay Paleo… 😉
I like your site, I found it accidentally while googling for a Paleo Chimichurri recipe! I’m going to give that one a try tonight. Thanks!
I know what you mean; I’ve read several reviews of New Grist from “professional” beer review sites, and none of them have been very positive. I always considered myself something of a beer-lover, too, so it makes me wonder about the negativity. I think part if the problem is that they compare gluten-free beer to standard beer and use the same criterion, which doesn’t make sense to me.
Anyway, I’m glad you found our site, and I hope you like the Chimichurri sauce!
I recently tried New Grist and also found that I quite enjoyed it. I found the taste lighter than red bridge and very enjoyable!! Amber 🙂
ps. I recently posted a recipe for beer battered gluten-free fish and chips if you’re looking to try cooking with your beer! http://www.mommastuffblog.com/2011/08/fishandchips.html
Gluten free, dairy free, and soy free Fish and Chips!?!?
Looks great! I’m passing this to Lea. Thanks, Amber!
I checked out your recipe and it looks and sounds great! As a Paleo devotee any recipe that is gluten, soy and dairy free catches my attention. I will definitely give it a try.
Yeah! I enjoy drinking beer but have had to give up regular beer due to gluten intolerance and I am happy to have stumbled upon New Grist. SO much better than Red Bridge!
I happen to agree with you, Kathy. We had both in the house the other day and I was able to do a little side by side taste test. The New Grist stood out as the better beer. But I’d rather drink a Red Bridge than a regular beer because of the gluten intolerance any day. It’s great that gluten free beers are getting better all the time.
Agreed. After trying red bridge I gave up on gluten free beers – until now. I am really enjoying new grist – it is markedly different from red bridge and easier to drink with no funny aftertaste.
Finding a favorite by accident.I consider myself a well rounded beer drinker,I drink light beer.On the weekend I had just mowed the lawn and reached in the fridge for a cold one.To my shock no light beer,however there was my wife’s New Grist gluten free .A crisp refreshing flavor,with a lime wedge fantastic.I read some of the reviews and found them a little sad,to a celiac this is something very special and we hope New Grist sticks around.
Hey! You need to try Green’s gluten free beer. It is really good, gluten-free or otherwise. It is pretty strong- Belgian style, but if that’s what you like it is worth seeking out locally. Brunehaut is the other one that is super good beer and happens to be gluten-free. Thanks for sharing your review!
We have been meaning to do a Green’s review for the longest time and just haven’t gotten around to it. We LOVE Green’s. It’s just about my favorite along with Estrella Damm Daura. I have never heard of Brunehaut so thanks for recommending it. I’ll have to see if I can get my hands on some of that.
HELP!? This beer is not Paleo right? I read the ingredients, Gluten free does not mean it is- Paleo. So is it really ok to have if you are on the Paleo diet or just “better”.
Don’t get me wrong I will try it, it is beer after all.
No, I wouldn’t say this beer is “paleo”. In fact, alcohol is generally not considered optimal for a paleo diet and this beer is also made with rice. My view is that it is a better option for people who are gluten intolerant but choose to drink a beer now and then. It depends on what your goal is with following the paleo diet. If you are trying to lose weight or heal from an autoimmune disease you probably should not drink alcohol at all – at least for a while. If you have celiac disease you should be especially careful. I would never advocate over-consuming any food whether it is truly “paleo” or not. It’s just an option for people who are going to have a beer but don’t want the gluten.
Thanks for stopping by!
im new to the wheat free diet > i love my beers esp tsing tao and stella and was sceptical about the gluten free beers. Im drinking the New Grist beer for the first time as i type and i must say im impressed with the taste and crispness of the beer..nice and clean and not too sweet…
I do not have gluten intolerance. So, I can drink just about any beer. I do like variety. On a whim, I decided to try the New Grist. I like it. Quite different, but certainly enjoyable. Do not hesitate to give it a try if you like variety in you beer styles.