I have to confess apart from the odd pint of mainstream lager, I was never a beer drinker. I knew and know nothing about it, and because being diagnosed in my drinking prime never really tried anything different.
On meeting Sue Cane at the Free From Food Awards, I discovered from her not only that a range of gluten free beer existed, but that there was so much to learn. We created a little event and a couple of weeks ago, we finally were able to bring this the general gluten avoiding public.
A thirsty group of us gathered at the top of the Truscott Arms in their light filled function room, with its own bar on a sunny London evening. Kicking off with introductions from myself, Sue and Jonny, we then launched into the guided tasting.
Sampling across 8 gluten free beers, we dived straight into the detail of the beers, the brewing process, the flavours, aromas and opinions. Each beer was reviewed blind, snuggled in their brown paper bags to remove any hint of which beer was being poured. It brings such an openness to tasting, removing all preconceived ideas from the palette.
Tasting from light lager styles to a dark porter stout, we were amazed at the breadth of variety of products. Jonny and Sue shared so much knowledge with the group, wandering from tables to talk in depth with guests in between the group discussions. They made a great partnership.
Bringing together this unique group of people made for mixed reactions. Gluten consuming partners (aka sympathisers), suspicious non beer drinkers, passionate consumers, skeptics, and complete beer virgins made this a non standard tasting for Jonny to run. Accustomed to guiding experts or avid consumers through beers or wines, this mixed group brought such interesting discussions, questions and insights to the tables.
Post tasting / drinking whilst waiting for a much needed pub supper to appear, we moved everyone around, to reinvigorate the mood and to swap beer notes. Then we revealed the beers in order of tasting. Lots of beers people had never seen, some preconceived ideas dashed, and lots of discussion.
GUIDED TASTING LIST:
Celia Czech Lager
Wold Top Brewery – Against the Grain
Westerham Brewery – Bohemian Rhapsody
Monty’s Brewery – Masquerade
Greens – IPA
Brewdog – Vagabond
Daas Beer – Ambre
Stringers Brewery – Outlook Dark
In addition to these, we also had what we called The Showcase: A collection of ALL the gluten free beers available to buy in the UK. Over 53! Most of these were brewed in the UK by the growing collection of artisan brewery’s either specialising in gluten free beer, or adding this niche product to their mainstream line up. It was a beautiful sight and taste!
Fish & Chips, Boudin Noir Scotch Eggs, Veggie Spring Rolls, more beer finished off the evening before people headed home armed with goodie bags!
In leiu of pudding I sent people off with the most amazing donuts from Instagram GF legend Borough 22. Making free from baked goods, but specialising in donuts, Ryan creates light, fresh, flavour packed rings of happiness! Hand delivering them across London, I urge you to get your hands on them. Not only are they gluten free, but they can be made free from pretty much anything!
There was also little bags of allergen free sweet bites from Alex at Sensitive Souls. Dairy free popcorn and Millionaire shortbread bags were kindly donated to guests. Alex and his partner create their wicked treats for markets, and trade shows and sell to a few local cafes. Check out their site for where you can secure your next fix!
So I can now say I have tasted more than a couple of the gluten free beers on offer. And like many of the guests on the night, was blown away by the sheer improvement in quality. But in addition to this I loved the sheer variety. There is truly something for everyone…