Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

Anheuser-Busch Rolls Out a Sorghum Beer:

By William Brand
Friday, December 22nd, 2006 at 11:46 am in Uncategorized.

Don’t think giant Anheuser-Busch has an ear and eye on the beer market?

Consider this. A-B announced this week that it’s “introducing the first nationally available sorghum, Redbridge.”

So who cares? Well sorghum, a native African plant, is the one grain that celiacs, people who are allergic to gluten, which is found in wheat and almost all other grains, can tolerate.

Beer made with fermented sorghum is widely available in Africa. I wrote about it last month and you can find that report here.

It’s great that A-B’s doing this. There are lots and lots of celiacs who like beer and haven’t been able to drink it.

It’s also a shot from a major conglomerate aimed straight at Bard’s Tale Beer Co., a still-tiny Lees Summit, MO. company started by a celiac. The beer, Dragon’s Gold, also made from sorghum, is being brewed under contract by Gordon Biersch in San Jose and is already available in more than 20 states.

Until now only Bard’s Tale and Lakefront Brewing, Milwaukee, WI., which makes New Grist, were the only two beers made in the United States that celiacs can drink. Only Bard’s Tale is distributed widely.

Gotta hand it to Big Bud, they’re attuned to the market. Celiac disease affects one out of every 133 people in the U.S., the  says. Celiac Disease Foundation

 Taste Test: Redbridge vs. Dragon’s Breath
I just did a taste test of the two, A-B’s Redbridge and Bard’s Tale Dragon’s Gold:

Redbridge**+, made with sorghum as the “primary” ingredient, Hallertau and Cascade hops, is a clear,light copper-colored lager. The aroma is a mix of grain and perhaps the hops. Taste is somewhat sweet that lasts into a moderately hoppy follow.

Dragon’s Breath**** has a rich, grainy nose – the sorghum, I guess – with a bit of fruit. Taste is dry and refreshing with an aromatic finish from the Hallertau hops.

Bottom line: If you like sweet beer, go with Redbridge. For a drier, more sophisticated taste that anyone, gluten allergy or not, try Dragon’s Breath.

I’ve posted my Nov. 6, 2006 Oakland Tribune/MediaNews beer column just below as a reference.

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