Gluten-Free Beer Styles: Lagers and Pilsners

After a few weeks of silence, we’re back! Our blogging took a bit of a break as we worked on a bunch of stuff behind the scenes, including but not limited to: brewing, building, and web development. Look for updates on all that in the next few weeks! Now back you your regularly scheduled posting…

A few months ago, we posted a list of breweries offering gluten-free beers, but we haven’t yet talked about the types of beer they’re making. Let’s take a look at some of the current gluten-free beer styles on the market, and who’s brewing them. We’ll start with lagers and work our way through other styles in subsequent posts. First, a quick dive into what makes a lager a lager.

Lagers: Colder, Longer, and Bottom-fermented

The key differences between a lager, which is German for “storage,” and its close cousin the ale occur at the fermentation stage. Lagers are fermented and conditioned at much lower temperatures and use bottom-fermenting yeast, as opposed to the top-fermenting yeast used to brew ales. Though this process takes more time than ales, often 2-3 times longer, it produces a clean, crisp beer lacking the usual fruity flavors found in ales. For a discussion of the brewing process, check out our previous post on the subject.

Lagers come in two general varieties: Pale and Dark. Dark Lagers include varieties such as Dunkels and Schwarzbiers, but Pale Lagers are the most widely consumed style of beer in the world. Pilsners, including American-style Pilsners like Budweiser and Coors (not gluten-free), are technically very light lagers and popular among larger breweries due to their wide customer base. Pale Lagers are noted for their mild, light, crisp flavors.

Brewing Gluten-Free Lagers

Several brewers currently brew gluten-free pale lagers.

Sorghum-based beers are typically made by replacing the barley malt with sorghum extract (syrup) or sorghum malt, and then brewing the beer as if it were a traditional barley-based lager, with some slight deviations. The end result is a mild, crisp lager with some additional flavors as a result of the sorghum.

Brewers Offering Gluten-free Lagers

  1. Bard’s: Bard’s namesake beer is a clean, simple lager that can be found throughout the united states. Started by two celiac brewers, the company has grown substantially in the past several years. Bard’s claims to be the “Original Sorghum Malt Beer.”
  2. Redbridge: Created by Anheuser-Busch, Redbridge is one of the most widely available sorghum-based gluten-free beers.

Stay tuned for more posts on gluten-free beer styles. Let us know if you have any questions or comments by posting below.