Thursday, September 11, 2008

Useful Resources - Gluten Free Beer Review

In my previous life (before CD), I was known to enjoy a few adult beverages, specifically beer. During situations that required mass consumption, I was strictly a Miller Lite and/or Rolling Rock (before the Anheuser-Busch acquisition) drinker. During more social situations where I focused more on quality instead of quantity, I preferred products from a local brewery called Carolina Brewing Company.

My favorites of CBC were Carolina Pale Ale, and ... well, I could list them all but that would make me too sad. Basically anything they offered was my favorite. CBC is located in Holly Springs and has distribution to a ton of grocery stores and restaurants/bars in the Triangle. They also offer a brewery tour each Saturday at 1pm. I had been many times and wish I could go again some day. As soon as I was diagnosed and discovered I could no longer drink normal beer, I contacted CBC to see if they would ever consider brewing a GF beer. They politely declined at the time but I intend to keep on them about this. I encourage all of you to do the same as well! You can email them using the following address -

Naturally from there, I decided I would try all the GF brands of beer out there, assuming they would all be horrible. I discovered that there were just a handful with distribution in the Triangle. My first adventure was to Whole Foods, the GF grocery mecca. They offer, and I have tried, the following 3 GF beers.
  • Anheuser Busch's RedBridge
  • Bard's Tale Beer's Dragon's Gold
  • Lake Front Brewery's New Grist Ale
I was immediately skeptical of RedBridge because in my previous life I never had good experiences with any AB products. I couldn't usually drink Bud or Bud Light because it would make me feel pretty crappy the next day no matter how little I had to drink. This now leads me to believe that AB products (besides RedBridge) must be higher in Gluten content than other brands I previously had consumed. Somebody should study this and find out if my hunch is correct. Regardless of the above, I tried RedBridge and was in fact pleasantly surprised.

RedBridge has now become my new favorite beer! It seems to have the best distribution of the GF beers I have tried (not only locally but nationally). So far, I have found it at Whole Foods, Kroger and Lowe's Foods priced somewhere around $8 per six pack (yikes). It is also showing up in other places like Taz's downtown market (see my earlier post about this) and The Flying Saucer Bar and Restaurant in Downtown Raleigh (more to come on this). I have offered RedBridge to my family members and friends for their honest opinion and they all have said it is pretty good beer. When you are GF and can only drink/eat one thing, your brain can trick you into thinking it's good. That is why I always offer new GF products to others who will give me an honest opinion just to make sure my brain isn't tricking me. RedBridge passes this test each time.

My next favorite would be Dragon's Gold. A darker beer with great taste. I think I would have it more often if I could find it in more places. I have only seen it and New Grist Ale at Whole Foods. In last place is New Grist Ale (not horrible but somebody has to finish last). While drinkable if the only GF choice around, I prefer the other 2 choices much more.

Here are the websites for each beer where you can read more about them, contact the brewers to say thanks (highly recommended) and check their local distribution.

One side effect of drinking GF beer is that you are pretty much limited to six packs of bottles. No cans, no cases or 12 packs, no 22oz bottles, and no kegs. I checked with an inside source about why RedBridge isn't available in kegs and it seemed that demand was not high enough and/or the dedicated facility at AB was only for bottling (bummer).

FYI - I have had good luck with requesting RedBridge at grocery stores that do not currently stock it. If you can find a beer manager and ask them to carry it, they usually get it in for you in a few weeks. It never hurts to ask, right?

Also, I am still waiting to be contacted by someone in the Food and Beverage department at the RBC Center. See my previous post about the Carolina Hurricanes being GF friendly here. I will let you know what I find out but one of my goals is for them to carry RedBridge.



Pam Markley said...

Hey there. Found your blog a few weeks ago. A friend referred me as I was recently diagnosed with Celiac's as well.

Anyhow, Tyler's Taproom (near the Bulls stadium) and also at Beaver Creak has a gluten free beer. I don't know who bottles it, or if it is any good. I had gone in to eat and asked if they had a gluten free menu they could not provide any gluten free food but did say they had gluten free beer.

I found your post ironic today, as I was trying to figure out which GF beer at Whole Foods to buy. Good luck on your searches!

Anonymous said...

OOOHHHHH PLEASE! get them to carry RedBridge at the hockey games! That is why we haven't been back that often. Hockey without beer is just not the same. It's certainly not a Wine sport.

Anonymous said...

Yes, my new favorite beer is Redbridge as well. I found out that I had Celiac about five months ago and was determined to not let it affect my good times. Redbridge is by far the easiest GF beer to get as it is made by one of the largest brewing companies.
I am going to Las Vegas in a couple of days and started calling around to hotels and they gave me the whaat? kind of beer answer. So I then called up a small package store and there were extremely firendly and understanding of the my problem and are now bringing in two cases for me to pick up. Awesome!! Khourys Fine wine & Spirits in Las Vegas.

MsDallie said...

These posts are nearly three years old. Is there now demand for 12 packs, kegs, etc? (Redbridge)

Also- did Bard's drop "Dragon" fron its name? The bottle I'm holding is just called Bard's Gold.

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