Friday, December 22, 2006
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.