“Winter is coming.” For the fictional characters of Game of Thrones, this simple observation is the forebear of a revolution. A force to come from the north that will permanently change things for the better. For us back in the real world, it just means buying a new jumper and popping on the central heating… until now.
The boys at Edinburgh-based Bellfield Brewery are coeliacs and, like a rising number of people in the UK and around the world, their bodies cannot tolerate gluten, which means that they cannot drink wheat or barley beer. However, we’re delighted to say that they’ve gained a license to use the first naturally gluten free barley ever to be developed. Bellfield will initially test the groundbreaking new beer on a small scale in a non-commercial environment, but plans are big for this coeliac-friendly ale.
This really is a big deal. There are thousands of ale lovers around the UK who have to avoid regular wheat and barley beers, along with the naturally malty, full flavours that they bring. Although there are plenty of tasty gluten free beers, such as those of Brunehaut and Greens, these are generally made with cereals like billet, rice and buckwheat, which are less flavoursome and offer less depth than regular beer. Bellfield’s great leap forward will mean that gluten free beer drinkers can finally enjoy the real taste of darker beers that only barley can offer.
The ingredient itself, Kebari barley, was developed in Australia over thirteen years using an intensive selective breeding process, slowly reducing the amount of gluten in each consecutive generation. Now, the barley contains so little gluten that the average beer brewed with it contains less than five parts per million. That’s one quarter of the EU’s gluten free limit of 20 parts per million.
The new gluten free beers that could arrive on the market thanks to this innovation will give drinkers more choice than existing natural gluten free beers, not to mention a much more natural character than beers that have had the gluten removed.