Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Update: Note that under current federal law (October 2013), this beer cannot be labeled gluten free due to the fact that it is made with barley malt.
No doubt the variety of gluten-free breads, sweets and snacks these days is plentiful. One product that still lacks diversity, though, is beer. Most of the readily available brews, like Redbridge and Bard's, are derived from sorghum (a type of grass), millet or other grains that don't contain gluten. Now making its way onto these shores is a gluten-free beer from Spanish brewer Damm that is made with - wait for it - barley malt.
Estrella Damm Daura lager, which has won the World Beer Award for the best gluten-free beer two years running, tests at less than 6 parts per million of gluten. That amount is less than the 20 ppm "gluten free" threshold being considered by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the 10 ppm standard used by the Gluten Free Certification Organization. On Damm's English-language website, the company describes the method used to remove the gluten as a "long collaborative research process ... using the most advanced technology." That description leaves open the possibility that sorcery is involved, unless you consider sorcery outdated. I don't. (Actually, the brewer uses a proprietary process that breaks down the gluten during production.)
Whole Foods Market in Plymouth Meeting held a tasting of Daura during the recent Philly Beer Week. Local suds expert Lew Bryson summed up his review of the brew by proclaiming, "Celiacs: your beer has arrived." Daura contains 5.4% alcohol by volume - a bit more than Bard's and slightly less than New Grist.
Daura is registered with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board for sale in the Commonwealth, so Philadelphia-area beer distributors should be able to order it upon request; the Plymouth Meeting Whole Foods stocks the beer at its Cold Point Pub. It's also available at State Line Liquors in Elkton, Maryland - just past the Delaware border off I-95. As the rollout progresses, Daura will be available in more states. The suggested retail price is $7.99 for a four-pack.