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Something different

People that suffer from celiac decease are those who aren't tolerant to gluten. What does that have to do with beer, some of you might be asking. It's that gluten can be found in several cereals: barley, wheat, oats and rye, all used to a more or less extent in beer making, specially barley.

Now you start seeing the relationship with this blog. Almost all Czech beers are brewed with 100% barley malt, there are also those brewed with wheat, oats and rye, meaning that if someone suffering from this ailment fancies a pint they are in trouble.

So far I had seen only one gluten free beer. It showed up briefly at Pivovarský Klub, it had been brewed by Pivovar Zabřeh, near Otrava, and called itself Pohankové Pivo (buckwheat beer). It wasn't well received. It was a very cloudy beer, hay coloured and with a taste that was too sour for the averaga Czech. It hasn't been seen again, and I don't know if it's still brewed.

But there are some gluten free beers in Germany, and one of them got to my hands. Neumarkter Lammsbräu - Glutenfrei. The person who gave it to me confessed that he'd never tasted it, but that he'd been told that it was something completely different to any other beer I'd tasted so far. Which is a lot to say.

This 4.7%ABV beer looks just like your average mass produced pils. Things start getting different in the nose, there is some raw grain, similar to what you can feel in a nealko, but with some more fruit. The taste again is similar to a nealko, Budvar in this case. It's dry, with a sugary undertone and leaves a not very identifiable aftertaste, the closest I got to pin it down was resin. I wasn't too keen on it at first, but as I emptied the glass it slowly won me over. If you asked me if I would go out and look for it, I would anser that no, I wouldn't, but I wouldn't turn it down if offered, and it is nice to know that those who can't tolerate gluten have a quality product available.
In Prague, I've seen at some specialists shops and at Pivovarský Klub. And if anyone is interested in selling it or buying at least a case, you can contact the importer, Pivoňka from Hradec Králové.

There is one thing, though, that caught my attention. It's unrelated to the quality of the product, but still curious. My German is almost 0, but I know the word "bier" all too well, and I wasn't able to find it anywhere on the bottle. The label on the back identfies the product as Alkoholaltiges Getränk (alcoholic drink). On the same label, the brewer tells us that this drink is made with spring water, malt from organically grown barley and organically grown hops. Is it possible that the bollocks from the Reinheitsgebot have reached such extreme of silliness? I've got now idea about the process by which the gluten is extracted from the barley or malt, but shouldn't the resulting product be considered as "pure" as water that has been chemically altered before the mashing?

If anyone knows the answer, it'll be more than welcome.

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  1. Hi,
    I sometimes drink Lammsbräu. I had a look at their website and they have the Glutenfrei under Bio-Biere. There is no indication that they don't call it a beer. On top of that, I don't think the word 'Bier' appears, for example, on the Edel-Pils. All they say about removing the gluten is that it is a 'unique process'!

  2. I don't have a bottle of Edel-Pils at hand, though doing a quick Google image seach I found a picture a label of Alfa Edel-Pils, where you can see the word "bier" clearly written at the bottom. Other German beers that I've drunk recently do have the word "bier" somewhere in the bottle. This one didn't, and when you are in a shop, you don't either the time or the opportunity to check the internet to see what the producer says about their product.
    I would still love to know how they remove the gluten, and if that is the reason why the word Bier isn't written anywhere on the label.

  3. Come to think of it, there might be some beers that don't have beer written on the label. What caught my attention about this one was not actually that, but the Alkoholaltiges Getränk thing, something I'm sure I've never seen written that way on a bottle of beer.
    BTW, what are the other beers from Lammsbräu like?

  4. This brings to mind Shakespeare, "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet".

  5. I don't think I have enough experience to describe the beers.
    I read around a bit, but all I can find out is that the recipe for the gluten-free beer is identical, apart from the lack of gluten, with that of Edel-Pils.

  6. Sorry, Zeppo is my other account.

  7. I wrote Lammsbräu an eMail and they just replied: In Bavaria they aren't allowed to call a gluten-free beer Bier because of the strict rules of the Reinheitsgebot in Bavaria. In other German states they could use the name Bier. But as they are based in Bavaria they couldn't. The brewing is identical to the Edelpils but afterward they have a unique process to remove the gluten (they don't want to reveal how). They try to clarify calling it Bier juristic but by now they call it only Alkoholhaltiges Getränk.

  8. Well, this is one of the most interesting comments I've had in this blog. It is SO stupid that they can't call their beer "bier" because of some legislative relic. It shows those who still defend the Bavarian Purity Law how little it does care about the quality of the beer.

  9. Pivní Filosof said...
    BTW, what are the other beers from Lammsbräu like?

    April 2, 2009 11:10 PM

    I've never had the Glutenfrei but tried most of the others and was quite impressed. The Edel-Pils quickly became one of my favourite Pils (full of resinous, bitter hops). The Dunkel is also one of the best of its kind I've had (I haven't tried that many though). The Alkoholfrei was so far the only alcohol free beer I've enjoyed (it has flavour and aroma! - which probably disqualifies it as a good example of the style...); the only one I found uninteresting was the Blonde - a bland pale lager (but, hey, everyone's entitled to have a beer for the masses!...).


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