There’s a whole wall of gluten-free foods at my local supermarket; overkill, I think, given that fewer than 2% of Americans need a gluten-free diet. But who am I to judge… Whatever the case, a six-pack of gluten-free beer caught my eye not long ago; mainly because the covered bridge on the label looked so familiar (Parke County, Indiana, perhaps). I was further interested to see that it was made with sorghum instead of wheat and barley. I like sorghum, at least in molasses. Unfortunately, I neglected to read the fine print; learning only after finishing my first bottle that Redbridge Gluten-Free Sorghum Beer is a product of Anheuser-Busch.
Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained and I’d already forked over enough for a reasonably good microbrew, so what the heck. Here, however, is what I determined upon pouring one of the bottles into a tall pilsner glass.
Pour: Redbridge comes out orangey-gold, sort of a pumpkin color. The pour raises two fingers of coarse beige head that rapidly dissipates, leaving a fairly persistent scummy lace.
Nose: The aroma is faint and slightly grainy, but for the most part neutral. The beer actually has very little nose at all.
Taste: I find the taste “sourly sweet,” not unlike sour candies for children. Some careful examination suggests a mild fruit character. Improves marginally as the beer warms.
Mouthfeel: The beer looks fairly creamy on the pour, but in the mouth it’s thin and flat.
Finish: Redbridge finishes dry, with a lingering sour taste.
People who have celiac disease or who, for whatever reason, eat a gluten-free diet generally avoid beer. That’s because beer and ale are usually made from barley; often with added wheat. Both grains contain gluten. On-line resources list half a dozen or so gluten-free beers, of which Redbridge is perhaps most widely distributed.
I do not have celiac disease and don't "do" gluten-free, however, and if Redbridge is the alternative to real beer then I am so-o-o-o-o! glad I don’t. This stuff is wretched, and about the only taste it has is sour. Given all of the accolades heaped on it by celiac sufferers, I have to wonder if the condition doesn’t somehow affect their taste buds.
Recommended only for those who cannot drink the real thing - and then only in small doses.