Gluten-Intolerant? Five Beer-Pong-Worthy, Gluten-Free Options

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When making dinner plans with friends, I usually ask something along the lines of, "What type of food are you in the mood to eat?" Recently, after two botched outings with friends, I've realized that the first thing I should ask is, "Are you gluten-intolerant?"

Last month, I met with a friend at Palace India and, after being informed of her new wheat allergy a moment too late, found myself eating a plate of delicious samosas by my lonesome -- score! what a shame.

Most recently, I invited a new friend, Brian, to Tap 42, a recently opened gastropub in Fort  Lauderdale, not knowing that he was gluten-intolerant. Fortunately, Tap 42 has plenty of other  options for imbibing, but still, I couldn't help but feel compassion for those who are missing out on all the bounty that gluten has to offer -- namely, IPAs, pilsners, and stouts.

In an effort to help those of you who feel left out while watching your selfish, thoughtless friends play beer pong (no judgment), here is a list of five gluten-free beers to get you back in the game.

To make amends for my previous snafu, I invited Brian to join me at Riverside Market to check out their gluten-free beer selection. Riverside Market owner, beer connoisseur, and recent New Times Beerfest judge Julian Siegel showed us the gluten-free options available and helped us to separate the wheat from the chaff (pun intended).

5. Red Bridge Lager (Anheuser-Busch)

Julian refers to Red Bridge as the "section 8 of gluten-free beers." Needless to say, we didn't try this beer.

4. Tread Lightly Ale (New Planet)                                                                                  Contents: sorghum, hops, yeast, orange peel, corn extract

Brian enjoyed this beer, saying that it was like a true ale and would be a good summer beer. As an IPA snob, I found it to be a little on the sweet side, but I've read that this ale is very popular with Midwestern music editors.

3. 3R Raspberry Ale (New Planet)
Contents: sorghum, hops, yeast, raspberry puree

If you enjoy sweet, fruity beer, then you're prayers have been answered. 

2. Off Grid Pale Ale (New Planet)
Contents: sorghum, hops, yeast, molasses, brown rice extract

New Planet's Pale Ale holds its own in the pale ale category. Similar to a gluten-full pale ale but not quite as hoppy. Personally, this was my top pick. You don't feel like you're at a party drinking an O'Doul's and pretending that it's Chimay. 

1. Estrella Damm Lager (S.A. Damm)
Contents: "Toasted Cereals"

The only import on the list, Barcelona's Estrella Damm lager has a dense flavor and slightly more acidic than the others on list. This was my gluten-deprived amigo's favorite beer of the ones that we tried. There is a slightly bitter finish that makes it taste less like a lager and more like an ale, so I would drink it again to be polite when drinking with the gluten-intolerant (or to get totally faded in a pinch).  

I couldn't help but notice that although, in general, these beers were pretty good, there was a sweetness to them that you don't get in other beers that made them taste a tad "off." Julian cleared it up in a way that only Julian can: "Yeah, it's not the same. Hey, there's a reason why they don't make diet Snickers."

At the end of the day, gluten-free beer meets all of the requirements of regular beer -- it tastes good, contains alcohol, and can be used to play absurd drinking games. Drink up! 

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