Okay okay, just stop right there, because whatever you’re about to say regarding the (in)validity of gluten-free beer has already been said before — about a million times. We hear you, we really do, but there are plenty of beer lovers out there, your author included, who physically just can’t partake in the glory of craft beer, the wonder of sours, the excitement of seasonal brews. So what are we to do? Wallow? Spike our blood sugar with copious amounts of cider? Shots? Nope. Shut it down.
Sure, gluten-free beer may not include some of the key ingredients that make up traditional beer, so, admittedly, a fervent beer aficionado may find that GF beer misses the mark. If we reframe our thinking, however, and place-gluten free beverages into their own category, it’s clear that there are actually some pretty great options. Luckily, for those of us who are gluten challenged, there’s corn and rice and ingenious brewers who have created alternative recipes and brewing processes so that everyone can enjoy a decent cold one. What a time to be alive!
Note: Some beers on this list are labeled “crafted to remove gluten” rather than “gluten free,” which may not be appropriate for those with severe Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance. Know your body, read the labels.
This straightforward Spanish lager is the most crushable of the bunch. Daura is brewed for a Mediterranean palate, so it’s a bit thinner and more thirst quenching than traditional craft beer (think Peroni not Dogfish Head), but it maintains a malty nose with a crisp, lightly-hopped finish. It certainly goes down easily.
For a long time, when a thirsty drinker thought about GF beer, it meant Greens. The gluten-less Belgian brewery offers a robust lineup of craft beers that are completely safe for Celiacs. The standout is the Amber Ale, which combines an intensely fruity nose with a full-bodied finish.
Ah, sorghum beers. Can’t live with em, would prefer to live without em. Personally, I will reach for almost anything over a sorghum beer, but since they account for a significant portion of GF offerings, you might as well know which one to pick. The Celia Saison from Ipswich Brewery in Massachusetts is a solid choice. Belgian yeast leaves our girl Celia with a slightly spicy funk, which is balanced by the the tart citrus from the addition of orange peel in the brewing process.
Family owned and Illinois-based Two Brothers Brewery has been on the craft beer scene for over 20 years, so when it comes to beer, GF or no, it knows what it’s doing. Prairie Path Golden Ale, with its floral nose and creamy finish, is a great example of an American Kolsch and a beer that assuages our very real gluten FOMO.
A holy name in craft beer, it’s no surprise that Stone’s Delicious IPA is, in fact, delicious. Skeptical gluten-tolerant tasters agree, this is the closest to a craft IPA on the list. Delicious IPA boasts an intense malty core with aggressive tropical hops and a solid finish. Beer, is that you?
One thing is certain: this one is boozy, so hit this if you’re out for that craft beer buzz. Besides the 8% ABV, however, this is also one of the top 10 GF beers available in the US. You still get some of the classic gluten-free beer fruitiness, but it’s well balanced by some crisp citrus notes and anchored by a carmely backbone.
After being acquired by Anheuser Busch, Omission beers are no longer considered craft, but hey, us gluten beggars can’t really be choosers, and no list would be complete without an Omission beer. Besides the fact that the Omission offerings (IPA, Pale Ale and Lager) are usually the easiest to find on “normal” menus, they’re actually good beers. The lager stands out as the most well-balanced and “beer-like” of the lot.
It may be less hop-forward and lighter in body than Stone’s Delicious IPA, but the Glutenberg IPA out of Canada is no slouch when it comes to a GF-fermented beverage that might actually pass with a traditional beer drinker. The intense citrus nose gives way to deep spices and pine notes without hitting you over the head with hops. All around, this a great one to keep on hand.
Ah, the white whale of gluten-free beers. Mikkeller is the experimental “phantom” microbrewery out of Coopenhagen that’s been winning Danish, American and worldwide awards for the past 10 years. The fact that it even makes a gluten-free beer is exciting, but it’s elusive, and isn’t that (partly) what craft beer is all about? Rare tastings leave lasting memories of stone fruit on the nose and a crisp, slightly hopped palate. If you find some call me.
Neumarkter Lammsbräu Pure Lager
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that Germany would produce one of the best gluten-free pilsners on the market, and that it would be organic to boot. This baby never sees sorghum or millet, leaving it clean and crisp with hints of toasted malt. Read: Lammsbräu totally tastes like beer — imagine that! Find it and buy as much as you can.