Gluten free beer, to me, used to be a red flag for “this is probably going to taste minging”.
Of the very few varieties available in the past, most of the ones I gave a shot tasted distinctly weird and unpleasant without that magic ingredient of gluten.
But in the past few years, something strange has happened.
I’m finding that more and more of my favourite new beers from Scottish craft breweries are actually gluten free.
I’ve no idea what’s behind this, be it advances in gluten-removing technology or perhaps just a desire to reach the market of gluten-intolerant drinkers/coeliacs.
Whatever it is, more people than ever are now able to enjoy some really quality beers.
So to celebrate, I’m highlighting some quality gluten free beer being produced by some of my go-to Scottish breweries.
Read on to find out more, and find out my ratings for these beers from Aberdeen, the Highlands, and Edinburgh.
Fierce Cerveza, a gluten free beer that’s a better Corona
- £2.35 a 440ml can on the website, or you can get it in supermarkets like Aldi for less than £2 a can if it’s not sold out.
- Fierce Beer, Aberdeen
- Style: Mexican Lager
Anyone who knows me knows I can’t shut up about how much I love this beer from Fierce.
It’s brewed with lime juice and a touch of salt, in an attempt to be a craft beer version of a Mexican lager, like Corona, served with a slice of lime.
What it is, though, is so much more.
Crisp, sweet, and a little bit tangy from the citrus, it was my absolute favourite beer to have on hot days this summer.
I hauled a whole bag of them hundreds of miles away to England when I went to a music festival.
But you don’t have to just take my word for it — since it first came out as a small batch beer, the good folks at Fierce have told me it’s become one of their absolute best-sellers, leading to deals with Aldi and Asda, and even garishly-coloured Cerveza-branded socks.
But it wasn’t until I had the idea for this article that I actually realised it’s a gluten free beer.
Times have certainly changed for the better for gluten-intolerant folk when one of Scotland’s best brews on the market is safe for them to drink.
Goldfinch, a gluten free IPA from Black Isle Brewing Co
- £2.10 per 330ml can on the website
- Black Isle Brewing Co, the Black Isle
- Style: Session IPA
Goldfinch is another example of a great craft beer I’ve had a good few of in my time, but have only recently realised is actually gluten free.
(I should have noticed before now that the G and F in Goldfinch is highlighted on the can).
You absolutely can’t compare this drink to the gluten-free offerings of days gone by.
If anything, it tastes better than most session IPAs you can commonly find like the recently released Wingman from Brewdog, or Level Head from Greene King pubs.
It pours slightly cloudy, and tastes really rather bitter, with a sort of floral finish.
Lovely stuff, and works well for what it’s designed for: an evening drinking session.
Leith Pils, a gluten free pilsner from Edinburgh
- £2.90 a 330ml can on the website
- Campervan Brewery, Edinburgh
- Style: Keller Pilsner
With how much the pilsner style of beer leans on the malts used for its flavour, the idea of a gluten-free contender doesn’t, on the face of it, sound like it would work.
This beer from Edinburgh’s Campervan Brewery nails it, though.
Leith Pils pours crystal clear with a delicate head, and tastes just as good, if not better, than many popular pilsners you can buy, like Pilsner Urquell.
Ever so slightly sweet and very crisp, this is an excellent GF beer to buy if you see it out in the wild.
Kieran is a former craft beer barman and publishes his beer column every Tuesday online. You can also read his column in the P&J’s Food and Drink magazine, which you can find inside your Press and Journal newspaper every Saturday.
He bought these three beers from the gluten-free section at Banchory’s excellent Strong Water Co drinks shop.