O'Brien's Premium Lager is somehow palatable and gluten free.
O'Brien's Premium Lager is somehow palatable and gluten free.

Beer goes gluten-free, and still tastes like beer

WHEN I was at school (many years ago), I don't remember any of my fellow pupils being particularly allergic to anything.

Certainly I was never conscious of the potential harm that can come from peanuts, lactose (drinking the third-of-a-pint bottle of school milk was, in fact, compulsory - a special treat after it had been in the summer sun for some hours), shellfish or gluten.

How different things are today.

Teachers are trained to use Epipens, and nuts are banned from classroom and tuckshop.

As always though, for every problem there is an opportunity and the rise of gluten intolerance has led to the rise of the gluten-free beer.

This leads us to a couple of conclusions. Firstly, there are enough people around to make the production of gluten-free beer viable; and secondly, people want to drink beer even if it could make them crook.

Not crook in the traditional drinking-beer-makes-you- crook sense - headache, cold sweats, need for kebab - but rather coeliac disease - real pain and intestinal distress.

Being diagnosed with severe gluten intolerance caused engineer John O'Brien to make a craft beer that would be drinkable by his fellow coeliac suffers and palatable to the public at large.

After many batches, and finding another engineer with the same problems, the Rebellion Brewing Co was born in Ballarat, Victoria, and so had Hugh The Neighbour and me sitting down to a six pack of O'Brien Premium Lager.

This is a beer brewed from the non-gluten-containing sorghum and millet, rather than malting barley or wheat.

The process of malting and mashing is apparently very different to that required for barley and wheat, and this is what O'Brien had to really work on to get a beer that still tasted like, well, beer.

And HTN and I both agree it tastes like beer, it does.

Had I not read the label, I don't think I would have picked it for a brew from non-traditional ingredients.

There is a pleasant bitterness to the beer, a mildly hoppy floral hint on the nose and it finishes with a not unpleasant lingering finish in the back of the mouth.

The head dissipated pretty swiftly but kept producing fine bubbles and never at any stage did it taste flat.

A boon for the gluten intolerant, there are certainly worse beers around than this. Worth a try.

myshout@apn.com.au



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