I’ve recently hit my 2 year gluten-free anniversary. Which is crazy, because it feels like a lifetime. The things I miss most are still bread baskets, fried clams on the side of the road, and homemade pastas at hole-in-the-wall red sauce joints. But each summer, beer moves to the top of the list.
Sure, when it’s warm outside and you’re feeling like a little mid-afternoon siesta, without loosing your mental cool, there’s nothing better than a cold frosty brewski. But for me it’s really the social aspect – the summertime chilling by the pool, the coolers at the beach. A vodka soda just doesn’t cut it under those conditions. Ick.
But gluten-free beer can sometimes be hard to find, and though I’m usually a pretty good planner when it comes to packing 1 whole loaf of Udi’s in my weekend bag, I often forget to prepare for what I’m drinking with it. Take this last weekend in Montauk for instance. It was Memorial Day, which I thought meant rose would abound. But come Friday night, my friends and I found ourselves in a cold rainy house with no prospect of leaving it. We had no cards or games, so naturally, someone suggested we play quarters. We had run out of wine, and due to lack of beer alternatives, I ended up playing with tequila. Huge mistake.
So I wanted take a moment to assess the gluten-free summer drinking playing field. I’ve been much more of a cider gal these past two years, especially since it’s something that your gluten-free friends might actually want to drink too. But I asked around and got some great beer recommendations from long-time gluten-free friends. I included some of their notes when I didn’t have my own to share.
I hope this helps all of you with similar beverage woes with your summertime siesta-ing. You know I won’t be caught dead in Montauk again without a case of Magners.
Have I missed any of your favorites? Please let me know in the comments! Looking for the best Gluten-Free hard liquor? I have a great list here.
1. New Grist
My friend Oliver, who’s had CD for a while, says that this is his all-time favorite. In the early days of my gluten-free-dom, when I was reeeeally unprepared, I would often steal from Oliver’s beer stash at parties. I didn’t pay much attention to the brands, but I assume this is probably what I was drinking, and it wasn’t bad at all. He says it tastes like a standard ale to him, but that others have claimed it’s more like a Blue Moon.
I would consider this the Bud Light of ciders. It’s the most widely available at bars, and probably the most widely consumed by people who can drink the rest of the tap options if they wanted to. Still, I put Magners towards the top of the list because of it’s drinkability, which is kind of what you want in a go-to summer beverage….otherwise, why would people drink Bud Light?
I haven’t tried this one. But it was recommended to me by my acupuncturist, Heidi, who claims that non-glutards like it as well. She’s never led me astray on any GF recommendation (I am forever grateful for an awesome pizza joint called Mozzerellis), so I’m going to take her word for it.
4. Woodchuck (original)
This is my go-to cider whenever I’m buying at a store or bodega. You’re also likely to find it on many hipster-y restaurant menus. It’s got a great flavor – a little bit heavier and more concentrated than Magners. I would equate the difference to how Coke tastes from the soda machine versus the bottle. But it’s damn delicious. I will note: I accidentally picked up the “summer” version once and it was undrinkable. It had blueberry flavoring in it, and that is clearly not my thing.
For those who used to drink Sierra Nevada as their summer beer, this is the GF IPA for you. Unlike some of the other brands, it uses a gluten-removal process. I have no idea how this works. But it sounds impressive.
6. Angry Orchard
This is a great, slightly more niche cider. I love the packaging and the taste, especially of the “crisp” flavor. It’s still easy enough to find in stores in New York, but you might not find it on restaurant menus or at bars. It’s worth a try if you come across it.
This is a sorghum-based craft beer, also recommended by Oliver. It’s a bit harder to find, and I haven’t come across it. But if you’re reeeeeally prepared, why not order some for the summer?
Click here for my full list of The Best Gluten-Free Hard Liquors