Gluten, the group of proteins in wheat, barley and rye that give bread its structure, has been in the news a lot lately. Many people are adopting a gluten-free diet either due to a diagnosis of celiac disease, an allergy or sensitivity to the protein, or personal choice. During the brewing process gluten is one of many proteins released into the beer from the malt, so anyone on a gluten-free diet can’t drink most beers. Some breweries have started to brew gluten-free or gluten-removed beer selections to meet the demand of people who want/need to have a gluten free diet, but still want to enjoy an occasional beer. Gluten-free beers are brewed with malted grains that don’t contain that protein, like buckwheat, sorghum and rice. Gluten-removed beers use normal barley and then add a special enzyme that digests the gluten into smaller, easier to digest proteins. I don’t have any issues with gluten (thank God), but I thought it would be interesting to try an occasional gluten-free or gluten-removed beer. Geary’s Brewing Company of Portland, ME typically brews very traditional English style ales, so I found it interesting that they decided to make a gluten-removed ale. Their take on the style is called Ixnay, it’s an English Pale Ale brewed normally and then treated with enzyme to break down the gluten. It is available year-round on draft and in 12 oz. bottles.
Geary’s Ixnay pours a deep reddish brown, clear with a minimal off-white head. The smell is pretty malty, some roasted caramel notes. The taste starts with some mild earthy hops followed by significant malt character, touches of toffee, cracker and whole grain bread. There is a bit of bitterness to balance the malt sweetness. This is definitely a British style beer, more of an ESB than a pale ale to me, but not so much that it’s worth quibbling over. Ixnay is easy to drink, lower in alcohol at 4.7% ABV, and finishes clean. I never would have guessed that this was a gluten-removed beer as there is nothing in the flavor that makes it taste any different. Overall Geary’s Ixnay is worth a try regardless of your gluten tolerance, and should be a go-to for those on a gluten-free diet who crave an occasional beer. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.
Previous Geary’s reviews: