Regular readers might remember that last year, I put some alcohol-free beers through their paces. Although I’m a big supporter of low and non-alcoholic options – whether they are chosen for health, social or religious reasons – my experience with them left my palate slightly disappointed, as there was no doubting the fact that they were lacking in body and mouthfeel. So when a colleague at work (full disclaimer at the end of this post) presented me with two beers from her new gluten-free brewery, I was slightly apprehensive. Would the tinkering required to make these beers suitable for coeliac suffers completely ruin the flavour? Thankfully though, I had nothing to worry about.
Bellfield Brewery is a new, family-run brewery with just one mission – to create naturally gluten-free beer that tastes great. To get a bit science-y for a second, almost all beers contain gluten, so being diagnosed with either coeliac disease or a gluten intolerance could be a severe blow for beer lovers out there. But with around 1 in 100 people suffering from a gluten intolerance, there’s a huge market out there for brewers who can make gluten-free beers which don’t sacrifice on flavour.
As the UK’s first dedicated gluten-free brewery, Edinburgh-based Bellfield has passed the taste test with flying colours. The beer has only just entered the market but Bellfield has been refining its recipes for over a year now. It’s currently available at a small number of retailers, but I was kindly given a couple of bottles from its very first retail batch.
The first – and my favourite – was Lawless Village IPA. Named after the beer’s neighbourhood of Portobello, the beer is classed as a traditional American IPA, made with pale crystal malts and both Cascade and Centennial American hops. The malt and hops combination give it a beautifully citrusy nose with an edge of malty sweetness, and there’s definitely a body lurking behind the flavour as well; something which the alcohol-free beers were severely lacking. On the palate, it had a presence, although it wasn’t overpowering, with a great burst of grapefruit and lemon. Also, after it was left for a while, some warming caramel notes started to emerge too.
The other beer was the first the brewery put into production – a classic Czech pilsner called Bohemian Pilsner. As dictated by the style, I served this super chilled, which brought out the light, crisp body. Both the nose and palate had gentle floral notes, although the pilsner did also have a slight citrusy bite. Not a style of beer that I’d immediately pick but my fellow taster loved it!
All in all, I was super impressed by the new beers from Bellfield. Despite not suffering a gluten intolerance myself, I’d gladly grab a couple of these from my local beer store, and I can’t wait to see what they’ve got planned next.
Disclaimer: One of the directors of Bellfield Brewery is a colleague of mine at my ‘day-job’. However, the same rules apply as always – if it’s not good enough, then it doesn’t make it onto the blog.