People have been asking us for gluten-free/gluten-reduced beers for awhile now. We were receptive to that, but wanted to make sure the quality and taste of the beer didn’t suffer in the process. We are pleased to report success on both fronts.
First of all, Surly Pils and Hopshifter are now gluten-reduced. And by reduced, we mean any remaining trace of gluten is measured at 10 parts-per-million – the lowest level detectable with the best testing available today. This more than meets the standard for the gluten-free designation (20 parts-per-million) but since we brew with real barley (not gluten-free grains), it has to be called gluten-reduced. Rules are rules. A Star Tribune reporter with Celiac disease sampled the brews and found them worthy.
We accomplished this through a “happy accident,” as Head Brewer Ben Smith puts it. The brew team was kicking the tires on an enzyme called Brewers Clarex® that can reduce any potential haze in our beer. All apologies to New England IPA fans, but haziness/cloudiness can also adversely affect a beer’s taste and shelf life. This enzyme does a bang-up job of cutting down the haze without affecting the flavor, and makes for a brighter pour with better head retention.
As it happens, the proteins that cause haze also trigger Celiac reactions and gluten sensitivities. With those proteins drastically reduced by Brewers Clarex®, you have a beer that is friendly to those who are very unfriendly with gluten, without any reduction in quality. That’s pretty cool, in our opinion.