Gluten free beer: I track some down for our unscientific taste test

Sometimes a beer is what you need to hit the spot. But for some people hitting the spot with a beer is the last thing they need, as either through medical necessity or as a lifestyle choice, for them only a gluten free beer will do.

Ed, my daughter’s Other Half,  has now chosen to drink  GF beers so that inspired me to track some down. I then mustered a bunch of friends to taste test the beers.

gluten free beer
Pal Janet enjoys the Bellfield Bohemian Pilsner

Bellfield Brewery Lawless Village IPA (4.5% abv,,  £31.80 for 12) was the first pour for my pals.  Bellfield’s motto Born of Grief – Brewed with Love rings true as the owners are coeliac and to enjoy beer they created their own.  Our taste test buzz words included  “parma violets” “floral” “citrusly refreshing”.  My tasters also enjoyed Bellfield’s Pilsner which was a finalist at this year’s Scottish Beer Awards for Best Pilsner or Lager.

Bellfield Brewery gluten free Lawless Village IPA
Bellfield Brewery Lawless Village IPA

Green’s Discovery Amber (6% abv was developed by Green’s Beers as the first European GF beer in 2003 and now there’s eight styles of beer in the range. I enjoyed the Gold Dry Hopped Lager (4% abv, Ocado) with its citrus and malty vibe; and the Glorious Pilsener (4.5% abv, was a winner with my chums.  

The woody and herb notes of Green’s India Pale Ale (5% abv, Ocado) was fab with a slice of mature cheddar. All of Green’s beers have an RRP of £2.17 for 330ml with some of the range available at Sainsbury.

Gluten free beer
Nicola, one of my guinea pigs, checking aromas

Elsewhere on the high street, Morrisons sells Brewdog Vagabond (4.5% abv £1.65, 330ml, or £6 for four) My guinea pigs said of this pale ale:  “caramel” “liquorice” “citrus” and “peach”.  Morrisons has another choice in Estrella Damm Daura Gluten Free Lager (5.4% abv, £5.96 for four 330ml  bottles).

Over at M&S you can find  Gluten free Belgian Golden Ale (4.8% abv) and  Gluten Free Belgium Premium Pilsner (4.8% abv –  both are £2 for 330ml).

Some Co-op stores sell the First Chop Brewing Arm Ava (3.5% abv,  £2.19, 500ml, or three for a fiver) It is a pale malt made with fruity Australian hops. First Chop gluten free beer is brewed in Manchester.

I often enjoy Crabbie’s Original Alcoholic Ginger Beer (4% abv) as I watch the Saturday footie scores and bemoan the fact that my team has lost. And yes, its gluten free. You can buy four in a £6 deal at Tesco. I love its spicy lift of ginger with a mingle of citrus. (There’s a  Scottish Raspberry version too)

PS: Online,  I found which bills itself as having the largest selection of gluten free beer in the world.

Click here for some guidelines to a gluten free diet from

Also in my glass ….

While on the look-out for GF beers someone said ah! beer! and told me about  Alhambra Reserva 1925 (6.4% abv, 330ml, £9.99 for six, at selected Majestic stores). It’s also here at The Drink Shop. This premium Spanish lager isn’t a GF tipple  – but I’m glad I found it. As my guinea pigs were to hand, I asked them what they thought. They said “amazing” “strong” “lip-curling” “woody” and “a serious drink”.  I caught aromas of citrus and orange. It was mighty fine.

First published in Raise a Glass, Trinity Mirror regionals September 2016

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express

Wine diet. Well not quite. Wine and a diet? Perhaps.

I’m on one of those diets that allows you to eat lots of meat, pasta and rice. I’m also allowed  limited ‘treats’ and mine’s a four letter word.  Wine.  A wine diet. 

I’m not really on a wine diet. I’m on a diet with glasses of wine.  But I guess you know what I mean. Dieting and wine isn’t the best combo, but on our mutual journey of discovering wine I still have to be a passenger information service. It’s my duty to keep on trucking. 

Now then, if you’re calorie conscious, here’s a thought.

A large glass of 13% abv wine (250ml) could be as much as 228 calories. If  you can’t visualise 250ml, it’s a third of a bottle. That’s an eek! and worth remembering when you glug wine into a glass after a long day at work.  

Think on. The NHS says the average wine drinker takes in about 2,000 calories in alcohol a month; and drinking five pints of beer a week adds up to 44,2000 calories a year.  To check out calories of your favourite tipple,  the NHS has some basic guidance  here.

Here’s some wines I sampled with my diet meals. They’re NOT low-calorie wines.  I refuse to drink faddy low-calorie wines.
My heart sinks.  Where’s the ‘treat’ in that? Enjoy nice wines, I say, just enjoy them with one sensible eye on the calories.

My wine diet reds:

Château Lalande AOP Cabardès 2013 (
13% abv £6.99 selected Co-op stores) This red from the south of France is a blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah and grenache. On the nose there’s plum and cherry fruits, a brush of lavender, a dabble with kirsch. Vanilla? Yes lots of it. It’s a nice drop of red but the aromas win out as in the mouth the spice and acidity zip past the fruit flavours.
(My slimmie wine-match meal was schezuan pepper steak with couscous  – pictured at the top of this blog with baked sweet potato strips.)

Château Pey la Tour Réserve, Bordeaux Supérieur  (14% abv, £11.50  A deep ruby red wine from Entre Deuxs Mers, it’s a typical Bordeaux blend, with  merlot leading from the front with a small amount of cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon.  This réserve wine is aged in oak for 12 months, some of it new, which adds to the flavour intensity. Aromas of fresh plums, splintered wood and vanilla don’t dilly and dally; they have you hooked from the off, before leading you into soft flavours of ripe fruits with spicy flecks.
(My slimmie wine-match meal was lamb, baked with garlic, rosemary, leek and potatoes.)

My wine diet whites:

Reuilly Cuvée Nathalie 2014 (12.5% abv Majestic, £11.99 or £9.99 in a Buy Six deal) I just so loved this wine. This is a sauvignon blanc from Reuilly in the Loire and is made by Nathalie Lafond who took over the vineyard from her father. Sauvignon blanc sings here, but it’s not belting out signature tunes on full blast like some New World sauv blancs. The wine has lime and citrus oozing out of the glass, with a peep of apricots.  Crisp citrus fruits water the palate with an upright backbone of minerality. Delicious.
(My slimmie wine-match meal was baked cod with pea risotto.)

Most Wanted Sauvignon Blanc (12% abv RRP £8.99, Nisa, Booths, McColls and The team from Most Wanted has a vision to “get everyone to enjoy the world’s most wanted wines” at decent prices. This sauvignon blanc is from Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, and zipped and zinged as these NZ sauv blancs tend to do, with tropical fruits weaving in and out of the senses alongside citrus. It’s not an in-your-face sauv blanc which is good  if you don’t like your wines like that.
(My slimmie wine-match meal was spicy marinaded chicken with salad.)

Wine reviews first published in Raise a Glass, Trinity Mirror regionals September 2016

Liverpool Echo – South Wales Echo – Daily Post Wales – Huddersfield Examiner – The Chronicle, Newcastle – Teesside Evening Gazette – Birmingham  Mail – Coventry Telegraph – Paisley Daily Express

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