One of my favourite things about the craft beer industry is the commitment to experimentation. You need only to peek at a brewery’s tap list, to know that brewers are not afraid to try new ideas and push the boundaries of what different ingredients and techniques can bring to a beer. This has of course resulted in a wealth of delicious, inventive, and innovative beers to please folks of all taste preferences and even, dietary restrictions. With the latter, I’m of course talking about those who have gluten sensitivities or allergies, which might prevent them from enjoying the full range of craft beers currently on the market. However, as I hope our Beer of the Week will prove, there are brewers out there ensuring that there are quality options, for our friends with these concerns. This week, we check out Ground Breaker Brewing’s IPA no. 5 to give some love to our gluten-free readers, who are looking for something a little bit different than cider.
Honestly, up until a couple of years ago, I thought those who needed to be gluten-free were stuck with cider. Not that there’s anything wrong with cider, as previous posts have asserted. It’s just that while there are definitely more options to cider drinkers than one might think, this variety pales in comparison to beer choices. Even when I first discovered that there were gluten-free beers on the market, they seemed to lack any creativity or depth of flavour. Whether it’s a product of the craft beer boom, or whether my own ignorance has kept me from being privy to what has been going on in the gluten-free beer world, this is definitely no longer the case. One of the breweries leading the charge for delicious, flavourful, gluten-free options, is Portland’s Ground Breaker Brewing.
Established in 2011, Ground Breaker has, from the start, been a gluten-free brewery. Their equipment was bought brand new, to ensure that it was never once used in the production of anything that contained gluten. Ground Breaker also does not and never has used any barley, wheat or, rye to make their beer, with the goal to chemically or enzymatically remove the gluten. Their ethos is: “don’t start with what you don’t want,” meaning that gluten does not step foot in their establishment. Instead, they use all-natural ingredients, such as Willamette Valley chestnuts and hops, as well as lentils, to craft their vegan, gluten-free suds. Tag-teaming with the beer, is Ground Breaker’s gastropub which is, you guessed it, also free of any gluten products. Speaking of Willamette Valley hops, what better place to start when crafting an IPA?
IPA no. 5 is one of Ground Breaker’s year-round offerings. It is a classic, Northwest style IPA, featuring ample citrus and pine from the Crystal hops used in the boil and dry-hopping process. Dark amber in colour, IPA no. 5 also has a subtle tropical zing to it, which it gets from the use of Santiam hops. Made from roasted chestnuts, roasted lentils, and Belgian-style candi sugar, this beer has a very mild sweetness to it, typical of many Portland IPAs. While its body is slightly lighter than you may expect, that does not detract from its great taste; it may be gluten-free but that doesn’t mean you should enjoy it any differently than your average IPA. So load up a plate with your favourite hot-wings; invite Angela, Pamela, Sandra and Rita over; and set in the trumpet. Who knows, after a few of these, you may just touch the sky.