Gluten-free beer review—La Messagère, and New Grist

Sunday, March 21, 2010

In my heart, I am a tried and true "beer girl". I was never a "fruity drink" girl, though I did sample some on occasion, I always preferred beer. Good, old-fashioned, cold bubbly beer - just the smell of it now brings me back to patio season in the sun, paired with nachos and hamburgers. Oh, good times. :)

Unfortunately, when gluten is no longer a part of your diet, the glorious beer you once guzzled also falls away. Oh the horror... Ever since then, I've been searching for a replacement.  Last summer was actually the first time I ever learned to love red wine, so that has been supplementing, but really, nothing does it like beer.

A month or two after I dropped gluten, a friend recommended La Messagère which is produced by a small brewery in Québec called Les bières de la Nouvelle-France (the beers of new france). I was totally stoked to try it. Brought some up to the cottage (perfect beer-drinking environment) and cracked a cold one, only to discover it had a great first taste, but it rapidly deteriorated into a terrible all-around-the-mouth, syrupy sweet slimey feeling. Sigh. I tried...really I did; I even opened a few at different times hoping I would suddenly like it. No dice.

A friend recently told me that there was another kind- available at a liquor store I don't usually frequent- called New Grist. I was renewed! I had hope! Perhaps I would finally be able to enjoy beer again. I drove to that little-known liquor store, and I felt the clouds part and the heavens shine down on me as the store clerk showed me where I could find it. I even explained to the cashier that I was thrilled to finally have been in over a year. Um, she didn't care. I digress.

I brought it home and lovingly placed it in the freezer to chill- rapid-fire. Once the children were nestled all snug in their beds, I thought perhaps it wasn't cold enough yet, but I cracked it anyway because I just couldn't wait. You see, New Grist (unlike La Messagère) had only grains (buckwheat, hops and rice). No glucose syrop or whatever else gave me pause when I bought La Messagère...Oh, right- back to the big finale: let's just say there were no fireworks. The taste was flat. There wasn't even a hint of beer taste- sorry. And once I had sipped, I felt the beer in my mouth. Like the inside of my mouth had been spray-coated with something. Sigh. So overall, very disappointing. Despite really REALLY trying to like it, I couldn't even finish one. I actually felt nauseated afterwards. What a crushing victory for the wheat gods.

I suppose I'm destined to keep refining my palate for red wines and to crack a nice Strongbow cider if I'm looking for a cold beer-substitute. Could be worse- I could be ridiculously ill. Counting my blessings. :)

Anyone have any other gluten-free beers they might recommend?


Brian from Bard's said...

We aren't in Ontario yet but we are coming. Only Bard's malts the sorghum in its gluten-free beer for traditional beer flavor and aroma.

Brian from Bard's/

Kirsten said...

Thanks Brian. Put me on your list of folks to notify when you get your product into Ontario! Meanwhile, I have some peeps headed south of the border and I'm definitely putting in an order. :)

Tracy said...

Thanks for your reviews. I was about to buy both those beers today at the liquor store. And at $14 per six pack it is disgustingly expensive. I miss my beer too but I do love red wine a lot. I'm only gluten sensitive so I might have to suck up the mild pains for the occasional beer :)

Kirsten said...

Tracy- in the absence of Bard's or Redbridge, I have made peace with New Grist. I think it's been long enough for me to forget what real beer tastes like, so I've learned to like it. You may want to give it a try, and be patient. :) You can also order Bard's from the LCBO now. They have it available though not in most stores. Good luck!

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