Showing posts with label gluten-free. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gluten-free. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Kiss of the New Year - Nice and Naughty

Overheard at my house recently:

Me - So cool! The 2 Towns guys are on the Oregon State website's front page!
My roommate (who shall remain nameless) - Nice - are they like advertising there?
Me - Yes, colleges are now selling ad space to hard cider companies.
My roommate - Ok, so perhaps I did not think that one through.

No, OSU is not advertising hard cider, but they are celebrating the achievement of a few of their awesome alumni!

And they hit the fairway again with the great seasonal, Nice and Naughty. I picked up a bottle when I dropped in to their new tasting room on HWY 34 outside of Corvallis (nice digs, by the way). I find the name of the cider not just seasonal, but apt when considering its flavor profile. It starts with a powerful and well-rounded tart apple (niiiice), and ends with the kind of spicy nip that makes any good kiss naughty.

Check out the lineup for seasonals at

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Losin' the Gluten - Harvester Brewing

As I continue to explore and highlight gluten-free products (particularly beer), I want to share with you the beers of Harvester Brewing. This is not just a story of beer, but of the amazing experiences of overcoming Celiac disease and gluten intolerance. I will say that as I explore and learn about gluten-free products of all kinds, there are always stories of health and empowerment that I find inspiring. This time, I had the opportunity to learn the stories of James Neumeister, one of the owners of Harvester, and how making a gluten-free craft beer has changed both his life and the lives of others.

James first came to the making of gluten-free beer when a friend was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. If you don't know, Celiac is an autoimmune disease that can cause a wide variety of symptoms ranging from gastro-intesitnal, to endocrine, to reproductive, dermatological, and many, many, others. What is challenging about diagnosing Celiac as well as other gluten-related issues is that the symptoms show up differently in different people - and often the issues seem unrelated and are treated separately. When James' friend went gluten-free, and she started seeing an increase in health, she shared with James the beers that were out there and available to her. James thought that perhaps he could do better...which spurred on his quest.

Of course, making a beer that is gluten-free AND tastes positively and similarly to traditional beer is a major challenge. James took that challenge head on, and while doing so learned a lot about gluten-related issues. Over that time it seemed that his wife would benefit from a GF diet, and she mused that she would go gluten-free if he made up a good beer. When she cut gluten from her diet, most of the health issues she had been struggling with for years all but disappeared. Today the couple is enjoying the benefits of this health, including having welcomed a lovely daughter into their lives 2 years ago.

These experiences fuel James' passion for making gluten-free beers - something that Harvester has been doing since 2011. The facility is completely gluten-free, and they use chestnuts, hops, sorghum, and gluten-free oats as their primary ingredients. They have put out 7 beers, including 3 experimentals. Their mainstays are a Pale Ale, IPA, Red Ale, and Dark Ale. I was able to sample all of these recently.

I would have to say that the Pale Ale was my favorite. I found it appropriately hoppy with a hint of sweetness at the start. One of the things that most impressed me about this beer was that though it is made with sorghum, there was little of the aftertaste I have found in GF beers that include this ingredient. I gave it to my roommate who was not able to distinguish this beer from one that is not gluten-free.

The IPA was also wonderfully hoppy, and boasted a citrusy nose. There where hints of vanilla and an almost sweet flavor on the finish of this beer, which complimented the bitterness. Also ringing in the with some bitterness was the Red Ale, which was much more bitter than I expected, with a caramel nose as well. Finally, the Dark Ale was toasty and nutty in both smell and taste, with a bit of a coffee flavor and just enough bitterness to feel like a stout.

I plan on heading up to Portland to check out the Harvester Tour on Thursdays from 3-6pm. I am sure that there is not a HUGE difference between a GF facility and others, but I am totally curious!

Thanks James for your story, and for your great beer!


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Losin' the Gluten: Omission Beer


It's everywhere nowadays. From supermarket shelves, to bakeries, to pizza places, and restaurants - food without this grain-based protein is popping up all over. I for one feel very appreciative of it, being allergic to wheat (I can do some beers, but it's probably better I stick with other beverages). Some people are not able to cheat a little like I do - they are gluten intolerant, or they might have celiac disease. Still others who go gluten-free might be focused on a specific diet type, like the paleo diet, or are doing it for other health reasons. No matter what the choice, allergy, or ailment, being gluten-free can mean that good beer is hard to find.

This spring Widmer Brothers put out Omission Beer - two different styles (Pale Ale and Lager) of gluten-free beer. The project was spurred by the fact that both CEO Terry Michaelson, and Brewmaster Joe Casey's wife were both diagnosed with celiac disease. This, paired with what Marketing Communications Manager Brady Walen stated as "a desire to brew a great-tasting craft beer anybody can enjoy," led to the development of a process that removes gluten from beer made from malted barley.

This is a a departure from most of the GF beer we see here in the US, which is usually made from ingredients like sorghum. The process, which involves using low-protein barley, styles that are not malt-heavy, the addition of brewer's clarex, and the full sanitation of all equipment, leads to beers that weigh in at well below the international standard for gluten-free products. Skeptical? Go ahead and type in the date and style of beer into their "test results" web page to see what the batch was tested at. "We try to be as transparent as possible," Walen stated, "what we do can raise some skepticism."

I cracked the Lager first, and was seriously impressed with the smooth flavor and mouth feel. Crisp and clean, this is slightly hoppy, citrusy, and very easy to drink. If you like a good lager, and have been waiting for your magical gluten-free moment, this beer will not disappoint. Though I tried it sitting by the hot wood stove in my apartment, I imagined it would be a great choice for me in the summer after a day outside in the garden.

The Pale Ale was also excellent, and even more suited to my taste in beer. I gave some to my roommate without telling him it was gluten-free (he gets a little weirded out by all the strange foods I bring home), and he was none the wiser. A balanced mix of hoppy and malty, I paired this beer up with some steak and pasta (quinoa pasta - yum) with red sauce and lost none of its well-rounded flavor. I found hints of vanilla on the nose and in the finish. 

Excited to try it? If you are gluten-free you should be. This beer is accessible and excellent. You can check out the website to find a supplier near you!