For many sufferers of celiac disease, going out for a pint typically means ordering a cider. But brewers have worked hard to provide a reasonable analog for gluten-free drinkers, offering a range of brews produced from grains like sorghum and rice.
More recently, brewers have begun to experiment with gluten-reduced beers. These beers are brewed with barley, so they taste like traditional ales and lagers. The difference comes from an enzyme that breaks down gluten proteins, allowing most celiac sufferers to enjoy craft beer without the negative health effects.
Clearwater’s Pair O’ Dice Brewing has given the technique a shot with its Good For Life, a Kölsch-style brew that has
6-percent alcohol-by-volume and fewer than 10 parts-per-million of gluten, which is an amount generally considered safe for celiac sufferers.
Inclusivity aside, Good For Life is an excellent brew. It has the rich malt character — remember, actual barley is used here — and clean, focused flavor palate and light hop bitterness that you’d want from a classic Kölsch.
If the style is unfamiliar, Kölsch is a German beer originating from Cologne. It’s a top-fermented ale that’s made with a malt bill similar to a pilsner that’s subsequently cold-conditioned (lagered) to give the beer a light, easy-drinking character that’s slightly more substantial than an ordinary light lager.
Good For Life succeeds as a Kölsch-style ale, which is great news for gluten-free drinker who want a beer beer, and not just a substitute brewed with alternative grains. This isn’t a sorghum beer or a cider, the individual merits of those products notwithstanding.
There’s some question about whether or not gluten-reduced beers are actually safe for celiac sufferers. Unfortunately, the jury is still out. If you have celiac disease, it’s best to consult your doctor first before trying a beer such as Good For Life. There’s no guarantee that it’ll be right, but if it is, you won’t have to settle for beer alternatives. — Justin Grant