Friday, December 22, 2006

Beer for those who couldn't drink beer
A few months ago, I wrote a column on New Grist, the first nationally marketed beer designed for people with wheat allergies. The brew began sellng like hot cakes and then won a gold medal at this year's Great American Beer Festival.
It shouldn't surprise anyone, then, that a major brewer has sniffed out the scent of a potential new market and made its own sorghum beer. Anheuser-Busch on Wednesday introduced Redbridge in restaurants and stores that carry organic products.
I'll say right away that I haven't gotten a hold of this yet, so I'm not sure how exactly it tastes. But the fact that the country's largest brewer has dipped so quickly into this market is definitely news. And I believe it portends a future where a lot more brewers will make a specifically gluten-free beer to reach a new base of customers.
In a news release, A-B said it worked closely with the National Foundaton for Celiac Awareness to develop Redbridge. It goes on to note that an estimated 3 million Americans suffer from Celiac Disease, a disorder in which intestines are damaged by anything containing gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and oats.
It is interesting to note from a purely beer standpoint as well that the introduction of Redbridge follows several of A-B's forays into beer styles outside of its traditional lagers. At the GABF this year, the brewery displayed a pale ale, a wheat, a porter and two winter beers that were oak-barrell-aged. No one's going to mistake Anheuser-Busch's pale for a Great Divide or Stone beer anytime soon, but it is heartening to see the company making something more than Bud Light.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Dark, Sooo Dark
For those of you who live in the Denver area and may read me, I'd suggest stopping whatever you're doing and getting to Falling Rock Taphouse right now - if it's not too late.
The Mile High City's finest beer bar rolled out kegs of some very special Stone Brewing products this past weekend. If you're wondering why I'm just writing now, well, it takes a while to recover enough to get back into work.
Friends and I enjoyed the Double Bastard Ale, the 10 percent alcohol-by-volume ass-kicking big brother of the increasingly popular Arrogant Bastard Ale. There are to be sure, better big beers out there, ones that flow more smoothly and bring out more of the taste of the excessive hops they use. But there are few, if any, beers that simply taste this big. A full, bold amber/pale body is reminiscent of a barleywine - but unlike most barleywines, this one doesn't try to beat you into submission. It just rides you along, reminding you that it's heavy and experienced while the malt crackles at the edge of your tongue. I won't lie - some of the joy is in the high level of alcohol here. But it's really about how much it warms you.
There also was a keg of the Imperial Russian Stout, one of Stone's finest creations. An intricate combination of raw toughness and through-the-roof hoppiness, it fills your mouth like few other beers. The joy of it is that the stout overshadows the imperial hops just enough to make this about the chocolate and roasted malts more than about the 10.8 percent alcohol. Smooth rather than bullying, it is one of a kind.
That's it. I just had to share my joy at finding these mouthfuls outside the San Diego area (where Stone is located). Please let me know if you know of anywhere else I can find these goodies.

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