This month’s blog post comes from Sue Cane at Gluten Free Beers. You can find more from her here:
Here in the UK beer is our national drink and it’s no coincidence that it goes so well with food. From the lightest blonde ale to the darkest stout, there’s a beer style and a flavour to complement all our favourite dishes.
Beer partners well with the classic pub food we love so much. Fish and chips, steak and ale pie and pizza are all a great match for beer. Its huge range of flavour and refreshing carbonation make it perfect with pub favourites and if your allergen menu lists some of our most iconic pub dishes, there’s nothing better than being able to offer a selection of gluten-free beer to accompany them.
Free-From is a permanent fixture in catering and hospitality. Allergen menus are essential for those with food-related health conditions like coeliac disease, allergies and IBS, but they are also used by many others who are simply health conscious or interested in a lifestyle approach to food and drink.
We all love to indulge when we go out to eat, including the 25% of us with allergies and intolerances. Gluten-free versions of pub favourites are popular, and these tasty, greasy, high-carb foods are always great with beer whose range of flavour matches them perfectly.
If you’re a bar or restaurant the chances are you already serve a wide choice of ordinary beer, but now you often find that craft brewers’ entire bottled and canned range is gluten free. By stocking your fridge with beer that’s gluten free you can double your reach and maximise the appeal of your allergen menu. It’s no longer the case that offering a single bottle of Euro lager fits the bill.
Beers to Enjoy with Food
Blonde Ales are light, crisp and biscuity. They’re easy to drink and they go well with fish and chips, grilled chicken or fish, hummus, halloumi wraps and veggie pizza. Fried food loves the bubbles and clean flavour of blonde ales, so they’re perfect with bar snacks.
Lagers are dry with low bitterness. They’re bready and flowery with a gentle, caramel sweetness and this means they go well with light dishes such as chicken, fish, salads and pasta. Margherita pizza is great with the delicate flavour of lager as are spicy Mexican dishes, where the beer’s cool carbonation is a perfect antidote to spice.
IPAs have big hop flavours and their fruity, often zesty bitterness means they cut through greasy foods and go particularly well with fish and chips, pepperoni pizza, burgers, Indian and Thai dishes, and falafel. IPA is the most popular beer style and if you don’t have one on your allergen menu, your diners will miss out.
Bitters and darker beers are good with dark meats and pub classics such as steak and ale pie. Their robust balance of bitter and sweet stands up well to the rich flavours of pies and roasts and can be great with cheese too.
Low-alcohol beers are available in every imaginable style and this time they’re here to stay. Low alcohol doesn’t mean low on taste and these beers don’t disappoint. They might not contain alcohol but the flavours have been ramped up. Whether you’re after a classic lager or a crazy tropical IPA you’ll find one that satisfies your craving for that cool, satisfying, taste of beer.
The Technical Bit
In the UK it’s common for craft beer to be gluten free. It might seem confusing to call something gluten-free when it’s made from barley, but beer is frequently brewed using an enzyme which breaks down gluten. (It’s not allergen free as it still contains barley but it’s safe for coeliacs and those who want to avoid gluten.)
Wherever you are in the country you’ll find breweries whose whole output in cans and bottles is gluten-free. Stocking this beer means all your diners enjoy the same great choice.
Some New GF Beers to Enjoy
For over 12 years the Free From Food Awards has championed GF beer. These are some favourites from their 2023 awards shortlist that are all perfect to drink with bar food.
For lager lovers. Refreshing, crisp, GF and vegan lager from this long-established Sussex brewery. Great with pizza and fish and chips.
Butcombe’s take on the American Dream. A punchy, resinous GF and vegan IPA from this pub-favourite Bristol Brewery. Great with fried chicken, fish and chips, curry and tacos.
A big, low-abv beer from this GF and vegan brewery in Sussex. Roasted caramel body and big fruity hops. Great with fish and chips, pizza, lasagne or any cheese-based dish.
A massive hit of flavour in this strong, mouth-tingling GF and vegan IPA brewed in Leeds. Great with Thai food, oily fish and burgers.
A zero alcohol, GF and vegan amber beer from the much loved Damm Brewery. Perfect with pretty much anything.
If you’d like to stock a range of beer that’s both GF and made without any barley or wheat at all, you have the choice of 3 specialist UK brewers who make award-winning beer without the usual allergens. Their beers are as bright, refreshing and full of flavour as any made with barley, and they fit perfectly on any craft-beer menu.
Alt Grain Co https://altgrain.co.uk/
Suspect Brewing https://suspectbrewing.co.uk/
Rebecca’s pie is a pub classic that just demands a glass of beer to accompany it, and what better than the famous Old Speckled Hen, one of the UK’s best-known bitters. It comes in a special GF version used in the pie ingredients. The beer has a rich, toffee-malt taste which is perfect with steak pie. You can find this beer on the Free-From shelves in major supermarkets.