Gone are the days when gluten free ale was associated exclusively with undesirable flavors, unexpected texture, lack of substance and more… Glutart raspberry ale, brewed by Bonfire Brewing Co. in Eagle Colorado is one gluten free ale that has successfully overcome the common perception that gluten-free beer = bad tasting beer. In fact, we recommend it.
We used to live in Eagle County, Colorado. It is up in the mountains and home to Vail and Beaver Creek ski resorts (here in Colorado “up in/towards the mountains” are official descriptors when it comes to directions, so pardon my ambiguous explanation). More importantly, the Town of Eagle, the county seat, is where a tiny craft brewery quietly opened its doors in 2010. It was a really big deal to have Bonfire Brewing Co. in town and it got massive community support. Oh yes, the beers were not bad at all. Chris went to the tasting room way more than I did, but always brought me a growler of something new they had made.
One day, I tasted their gluten free ale, Glutart. I, who had disdain for gluten free beers based on several poor tasting experiences I would rather not name or recall. I, who was doing everything possible to eat gluten free so I could once in a while enjoy my favorite drink of all. (Luckily, never a Celiac, but was thought to have gluten sensitivity, which later on turned out to be a way more complicated issue). But I digress.
The Glutart gluten free ale made with raspberries stroke a cord with me. So much so, that after we left Eagle County I would seek it out in liquor stores. Then slowly sip on it and share it only if I had more than one bottle. Best strategy is to open it when Chris is not present or is already having something else:).
Glutart pours with a very fine carbonation that dissipates quite fast. It forms a pretty, lacy white head to contrast its beautiful raspberry color. It is slightly hazy, but not that much considering that it is unfiltered. Maybe one of the prettiest beers we have had the pleasure of drinking.
It is so drinkable, you would not suspect it to be a gluten free ale. ABV is 5% and IBU 25. To me it feels that the perceived bitterness is greater than calculated. Maybe because it is made with high-alpha acid (i.e. very bittering) Summit hops and little bit of Glacier hops. Glutart is neither too sweet, nor too tart, but with pronounced and steady raspberry flavor in harmony with the bitterness. Instead of malted barley, the yeast fed on sugars from sorghum and added molasses (sometimes I can sense the molasses on the nose, but not always).
You know you are drinking a beer and you know that there was a ton of fruit added for the secondary fermentation. To pair Glutart with something easy to eat we love a piece of triple cream brie and some fresh raspberries. The brie (plain one, not flavored with say mushrooms, ugh, that would be so wrong in this case) has sufficient fattiness to meet with the tartness, but is also smooth and ‘soft spoken’. The raspberries infuse more life into the beer and cheese combination, and contribute more sour taste, enhancing the beer and canceling any excessive richness of the cheese.
All in all a delightful pairing. Cannot wait for summer when raspberries will be in season so I can enjoy it again. Also contemplating cooking the fresh raspberries into a compote to drizzle over puff pastries stuffed with the brie. After all, we are not behind the subject pairing because it is gluten free.