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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Redbridge beer

Redbridge at the party

In development for years, Redbridge is a response to the loud clamoring of those of who have to live gluten-free: we want beer! This company is smart — we are a growing consumer base, in business speak. Current statistics say that only 3% of the three million people living with celiac in this country are even diagnosed, but that is changing, on a daily basis. As awareness of the need to eat gluten-free grows (and I’m doing everything I can on that front), more products are emerging on the market.

Anheuser-Busch is the most mainstream company in America, so far, to acknowledge the gluten-free market. Beer. They made us beer.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Angie Mingis, product manager for Redbridge, and Kristi Zantop, head brewmaster for Redbridge. I’ll admit it — I had contacted Anheuser-Busch, looking for some free beer. As much as I had heard about the elixir, it hadn’t shown up in my stores yet. I wanted to try some and tell you about it. It turns out that Washington State law prevents anyone from sending beer through the mail. Hm. But, in the conversations, a lovely woman in customer service asked me if I would like to talk with this pair. Sure. Frankly, I loved the fact that I would be talking with an all-woman team.

The enthusiasm in their voices was unmistakable. One of them told me about a childhood friend who had recently been diagnosed with celiac, who was “…absolutely elated.” Another told me of a terrible irony — one of her brewing professors at UC Davis has been diagnosed. He is so happy about Redbridge that he wants to be their national spokesperson. These two women were proud of their work. They should be. Earlier versions of the beer — made with buckwheat — simply didn’t work. Even when they decided to switch to sorghum, the African grain that makes thousands of gallons of backyard beer on that continent, the earliest batches were too tart for their taste. “It was a challenge to have the perception of malted barley without barley,” Kristi told me. Of course. What they wanted to conceive — and we want to drink — is a beer that tastes like beer. Not a specialty item, or a slightly sweet substitute, but a beer.

I never was much of a beer drinker before I found out I have celiac. Whenever I drank a beer, I grew blotchy red and sleepy. Why did anyone like the stuff? But I have to admit, since I found my first six-pack at Whole Foods (a few hours after my phone interview), I have been drinking more than my fair share of Redbridge. Ay god, I love the stuff.

This is a full-bodied beer, with a little note of citrus in it. It is rich, without a hint of bitterness at the back of the throat. It flits through my taste buds. Kristi, the brewmaster, had other words to describe it: hopped; hearty; malted. I’m not enough of a beer aficionado to say what those mean. I only know this: every time I drink a Redbridge, I have a tickle at the back of my throat. It is part giggle and part disbelief. I’m drinking a beer.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently tried my first gluten free beers and was also pleasantly surprised at how good they were.

I tried the Redbridge while visiting my sister in Connecticut.

I'm from Ottawa Canada. Earlier this spring I picked up my first gluten free beer in Gatineau (other side of the river in Quebec). Its La Messagère from the Quebec microbrewery Nouvelle France. A really good beer - I prefer it slightly to the Redbridge as it is a little less sweet.

July 3, 2008 at 10:13 AM  
Blogger :q! said...

Big Star Beer Market on Aurora in Seattle has both Redbridge and Bard's Tale sorghum beers. (They're even on a separate shelf - easy to find.)

July 5, 2008 at 10:44 AM  
Blogger laura said...

i can handle pretty much any of my celiac limitations, but I MISS BEER. redbridge sustained me for a while because it was the only one accessible, but i am not particularly fond of it. (plus it's anheiser bush. not a fan.) luckily, there are a lot of really talented brewers out there who are doing some creative things in the way of gluten-free beers. the best i've found, (that is also accessible) is a Belgian line called Green's. they have a tripel, a dubbel, and an amber. my favorite is the dubbel but they're all excellent and have my non-glutard friends exclaiming "that's good, and not even for a gluten-free beer! it's just good beer!" here's some more info:

July 13, 2008 at 12:24 PM  
Blogger kakubosh said...

Have you tried Green's Beer? They have Discovery, Endeavor, and Amber Ale. They are gluten free and really delicious. I have found them at Whole Foods, but first discovered them at a bar called the Flying Saucer. They have locations across Texas and some other states.

May 17, 2010 at 2:12 PM  

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