Happy Oktoberfest, friends! Since ’tis the season for both Sunday football and Bavarian day drinking, I wanted to take a little time away from wings and cheese bread to talk about the second most important part of your fall recreational meals: beer. Specifically, for us special diet folks, gluten-free beer and cider brands that will help you blend in with the crowd, regardless of whether said crowd is wearing jerseys or lederhosen.
I’ve recently hit my 5 year gluten-free anniversary. Which is crazy, because it feels like a lifetime ago that I could go to a sports bar and actually eat something besides peanuts. 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 beer. But for me it’s really the social aspect – porpoising by the pool, relaxing next to a red cooler at the beach. A vodka soda just doesn’t cut it under those conditions, unless you plan on your mid-afternoon siesta turning into a 12 hour nap.
At least during summertime, there’s rose to the rescue. But for fall tailgating and Munich-style merrymaking, you’re better off finding an adequate replacement for the contents of that boot-shaped stein.
Gluten free beer can sometimes be hard to find, and though I’m usually a pretty good planner when it comes to packing a whole loaf of gluten-free bread in my weekend bag, I often forget to prepare for what I’m drinking with it. Luckily, gluten-free cider beers are a lot easier to come by, especially thanks to so many great craft brands cropping up that your gluten-free friends might actually want to sample too.
Read on for some of the best gluten-free beer brands (I included recommendations from long-time gluten-free friends and readers), and my favorite ciders. Some are more niche than others, so I made sure to keep a few mainstream ones on the list in case you find yourself thirsty from all those peanuts at a sports bar.
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.
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. If you’re extremely sensitive, proceed with caution. I’ve never reacted to it, but have heard from some celiacs that the removal process still leaves some slight traces. If you can tolerate it though, the lager is the closest thing to the real deal.
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 beverage….otherwise, why would people drink Bud Light?
My friend Oliver, who’s had CD for over a decade, 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. It tastes like a standard ale.
This cider has been cropping up more frequently on the East Coast. It’s unfiltered, so you’ll noticed a more cloudy consistency. The flavor is delicious if you like your ciders slightly on the sweeter side. It’s not as cloying as Angry Orchard and some of the other mainstream brands.
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.
This craft cider produced in Oregon has a nice balanced sweetness. Like many smaller-scale operations, the finish is drier than what you’ll get from the big commercial brands like Woodchuck or Angry Orchard.
This is my go-to cider whenever I’m buying at a store or bodega on the East Coast. You’re also likely to find it on many restaurant menus. It’s a bit on the sweeter side now that my palette has adjusted to some of the newer craft ciders, but has 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. 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.
This is a sorghum-based craft beer. It’s a bit harder to find, but a great option if you don’t mind seeking it out.
This niche cider is harder to come by, but if you’re on the West Coast you might see it on restaurant menus. I tried it for the first time at Joule in Seattle and was blown away. It’s definitely on the drier side, so don’t expect to satisfy your sweet tooth with this one.
With a nice clean (dare I say, crisp?) finish, this cider is one of my go-to’s. Even though the company is based in California, it’s fairly easy to find nationwide. If you love pear, their Pacific Pear flavor is top notch.
If you’re an IPA lover, this craft gluten-free beer company out of Boulder has a great option for you. I’ve also tried their blonde ale, and it tasted great without being overpowering.
This French cider maker is considered the most artful in the business. For a special occasion meal at home, consider picking up a bottle. It’s organic, extremely dry and nuanced — like a fine wine!
Click here for my full list of The Best Gluten-Free Hard Liquors
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