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07-10-2010, 21:44
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Gluten-free beers. Good cause, filthy stuff in my experience, and you have to feel sorry for someone who likes a beer but can’t stomach the barley. Several years back I was sent a gluten-free beer. It was Hell in the Pacific (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0063056/)in the mouth — Lee Marvin and Toshirô Mifune battling it out on a small Pacific island translated into varnish and Cherry Blossom boot polish rattling each others’ cages on my tongue; I remember thinking: well at least it’s wet. Result: have stayed clear of them until now.


In the middle of researching a ‘whither Pilsner’ piece for All About Beer (http://allaboutbeer.com/), I spot that Beer Merchants (http://www.beermerchants.com/) have got a g/f Pilsner from Huyghe (http://www.delirium.be/Anglais/Histoire/histoire.htm), under the Mongozo (http://www.mongozo.com/) brand (was the ‘banana lambic’ I sampled in an Antwerp beer festival in 1996 one of theirs I wonder?). It’s Fair Trade (http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/) and organic as well, but I’m not chucking my hat onto that particular ethical table. A quick email to BM’s Phil Lowry and he sends me a couple (along with some other Pilsners, thanks Phil — the Rothaus (http://www.rothaus.de/de/altersabfrage) Tannen Zäpfle is monstrously glorious, a cavalry charge of noble hops) and with a sinking heart I pour myself a glass…


Believe it or not it’s great to be wrong, especially when it comes to beer. This Premium Pilsener is easily the best g/f beer I have tasted. For a start it tastes like a good version of a Pilsner, even with rice in the mix (I’m a firm believer of rice in risotto rather than beer but that’s for another debate and there are respected brewers of my acquaintance who will actually argue that rice is not the devil) — it’s pale gold in colour with a nose that’s suggestive of bitter lemon, though lacking the sour-sweet poke in the eye of a lemon. There’s a mineral-like firmness on the palate (rather than that flabby syrup-sweetness you get with many commodity lagers), a pleasant sweetness in the mouthfeel and the slightest of bitter finishes that gets me going back for more. Gluten-free beers have obviously come on since I last carpet-bombed my palate in a good cause.
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