Like my peers when I heard The Alchemist had another beer that was going to be available on store shelves near me, I was excited. That is including the unavoidable caveats, that this is a gluten free beer, and that this is not brewed at the vermont cannery, but at mercury brewing.
I believe this might be my first gluten free beer, but it appears it’s not alone in the market with recent additions from popular craft brewers Dog Fish Head with tweason, and Craft Brewers Alliance with Omission (of Redhook, Widmer, and Kona fame). There are many folks finding out they are gluten intolerant, the demand for good beer that is gluten free has risen, and craft brewers are stepping up to make it.
Now to what matters, the beer. Bubbly, with a receding head, but doesn’t disappear totally. It lacks the typical pillow frothy head you’d get from the wheat in a normal saison. It has strong belgian yeast phenols of clove and spice. It’s golden orange color is a favorite of mine. If given this, and not told it was gluten free, I’d say other than the head, this is spot on for style. Spicy, bold, and enjoyable. They even nailed the dryness that is often lacking in american saisons. This is a well attenuated beer, I do not get a lot of residual sweetness, or overly syrupy mouth feel. However I do not get the oranges that are prominently displayed on the label, or the hops for that matter, though neither’s absence is detracting from it either.
Vital Stats: 12oz bottle served at 40F in a Sam Adams perfect pint glass. 6.5% ABV
Taste: B+. True to style, enjoyable, but not unique or memorable.
Drinkability: B. The 6.5% is well hidden, but the spice and phenols are not, it’s quite assertive. However with it’s dryness it would be good on a hot afternoon.
Packaging: B+. Unique imagine, depicting the ingredients in the beer. The label also includes a story explaining the origin of the beer, and it’s elements flavor contributions.