Sunday, 2 January 2011

Day 37, Beer 37 - Wold Top's "Against The Grain"

Today's Beer

Name – Against The Grain

Brewer – Wold Top

Classification – Gluten Free Real Ale. (The 'real ale' claim is not backed up by bottle-conditioning, I feel compelled to add...)

Strength – 4.5% ABV

Verdict - At A Glance

On the eye – An almost white gold. A gorgeous, crystalline clarity.

On the nose – Excitable sweet hops. Plums and cola cubes lend a hand.

On the tongue – Easy going tropical fruits and highly pitched hops. Complex, but in no great hurry.

On the subject – Wold Top's foray into the gluten free market is part of a growing movement to accommodate those poor beer lovers who some beers hate.

On the market – A sensitive subject. But as the message gets out, so will this priceless variety of beer. Try the brewery direct.

On the whole7/10

Full Review

Those of you who caught my recent post on Watau's Wit Bier may recall that it was then that I finally had to accept that I had a slight allergy to beers of that particular variety.

Wheat, it appears, is not my greatest fan. At least not when it is forming the basis of some of the world's most excellent beers (...he wept.)

So, basically, the timing of today's beer could hardly have been better. But before I could properly tackle this brew, I needed to address a few long held preconceptions.

Whenever I see a beer advertising itself as being 'gluten free', my initial knee-jerk reaction usually comes in the form of a 'hmm' rather than a 'yum!'

I'm wary of them, and I start thinking of 'science' and 'medicine' in ways which make me oddly queasy. This is usually followed by some positive thoughts on behalf of those who will benefit from such products – those with allergies, Coeliacs and so on. But the bottom line has always been that I'd never dream of actually buying one.

Enter Wold Top Brewery and their recent shipment of ales which included their very nicely branded 'Against The Grain'.

I have now finished my first ever gluten free beer, and the question is – were any of my prior reservations in any way justified?

Is this as good a beer as any of those without the gluten free claim, and if so, are we on the cusp of a potential revolution in beer production?

Well, on this evidence, it may be more of a revolt than a full on revolution, but to all intents and purposes – my wariness and reservations had no business keeping me from this stuff in the first place.

This brew didn't sweep me off my feet, but it unquestionably grew on me – and how many of your favourite beers have crept up on you like that, only to steal your heart forever...?

The body is exceptionally light, and how much of that is due to the 'gluten free' status I don't really know – but whatever the cause, its a refreshing and elegant consistency which, ironically, is not a million miles away from the feel of many a fine wheat beer.

There's a slightly nervous, skittish feel to the flavours, which might hint at the odd enforced compromise or perhaps an 'experiment' too far – but the main grapefruit theme becomes increasingly dominant and it leaves you wanting more by the end of the glass.

Frankly, the beer did not simply grow on me – it literally evolved during the course of the ten minutes or so that I spent with it (some beers take much longer to finish off!) What began as a suspicion of some slightly plastic contagion, slowly transform into wonderfully subtle peppery citrus hints which were almost mesmerising by the end.

I think I need another bottle of this, along with some of the other gluten free offerings currently out there - to get a broader understanding of their overall strengths and weaknesses.

But, as a first time visitor to the very exclusive Club GF – I'm already sniffing around for full membership.


Leigh said...

this is possibly the only G-free beer ive ever liked, I had it chilled last summer with a bbq and it was lovely -crisp, with a nice burst of tropical fruits like you say. Would drink a lot of this. Still havent found one to beat it!

The Hearty Goodfellow said...

I had a feeling it might actually be a rare one...

Well, let's just say it's a good beer to be leading the GF field at the moment, but it would be nice to see more of a challenge for that crown in the years ahead.

Gluten Free Guerrillas said...

Great review! So nice to real a real ale type beer launched packed with flavour. We've added a shout out on our facebook page. Keep up the reviews. Great to hear a guy's view on the GF Club too!

The Hearty Goodfellow said...

GFG - On the strength of this beer, there's a lot to be hopeful about. Though, from what I've since learned, this is one of very few properly drinkable GF ales currently available.

That's something the industry really needs to turn around!

Gluten Free Guerrillas said...

Yes very true! We're so pleased when we see great reviews and new products like this. Who'd thought it would be so hard to have a beer and eat bread as a Coeliac?! Plus many people are just plain wheat/ gluten intolerant so there is a market for this. FYI: We've discovered the Free Trade Inn in Newcastle Upon Tyne has it on draft tonight!! So we hope some of our fans can make it and report back. See The Free Trade Inn on Facebook for more details. We posted your review up ;)

PS We like Estrella GF beer - yet it's really only sold in supermarkets. One restaurant in london Locale is doing a GF menu & free beer. We keep urging companies to do's to more great GF beers and ales!