Drink options for celiacs and those who choose to avoid gluten have gotten better in recent years; once upon a time there was really only wine, but now there's the exciting artisanal cider movement and more and more gluten-free beer. Back in 2010, we could only find a handful of decent bottles available. We were really impressed by Omission from Widmer Brothers, which was released in early 2012. And Harvester Brewing offers another Oregon-brewed option; the brewery, which brewed its first batch in November 2011, focuses exclusively on gluten-free beers, all using roasted chestnuts in addition to frequently-seen GF beer ingredients like sorghum.
We tried their pale ale, dark ale, and red ale, which are available in Oregon and Washington for now. The dark ale uses dark-roasted chestnuts from a McMinnville, OR farm to provide a deep caramely-roasty flavor, along with certified gluten free oats, sorghum, cane sugar, tapioca malodextrin, and Oregon-grown hops. The beer has a nice orangey hop flavor, but the bitter edge of sorghum lingers on the finish. Try this one with walnuts or aged cheeses (or a nice thick pork chop.)
The best of the three brews, though, was the pale ale, which has a heavier dose of Nugget, Cascade, and Meridian hops, offering a mix of orange-like and piney pot-like hop flavors which covers over some of the difficult flavors gluten-free beer can offer. It offers hints of lemon marmalade and mango chutney, and would work well with curries.
We were less convinced by the red ale, which was quite earthy and offered a smoky sweetness and char on the finish that didn't mesh quite coherently with the rest of the beer's flavor. We'd be curious to try the IPA, since we far preferred Harvester's hoppier options.
Have you tried the beers from Harvester Brewing? Any other gluten-free brews to recommend?
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