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While there’s been a virtual explosion of gluten-free options in the pasta and baked-goods aisles, the options for gluten-free beer drinkers remain surprisingly limited.
That’s probably why MillerCoors is jumping into the gluten-free fray, launching its first gluten-free beer, Coors Peak Copper Lager, in early-to-mid February.
The catch: So far, the beer is only available in Seattle and Portland, Oregon, two cities famous for their large gluten-free populations (and their many brewpubs). “At this time, Peak’s release is an in-market test only, and there are currently no plans for a national roll-out at this time,” a company spokesperson told TODAY.com.
Typically, beer is, of course, made from malted wheat or barley, both of which are a big gluten no-no. Gluten-intolerant drinkers tend to stick to hard ciders, or the few gluten-free brews available (mostly microbrews, though Anheuser-Busch does a gluten-free beer, Redbridge, made from sorghum).
Coors Peak is rice-based (rice is naturally gluten free) — its ingredients include brown rice malt, brown rice, protein from peas, hops and caramel sugar, according to the company.
So how does it stack up? We asked some real-life Portlanders to give it try.
Nicole Mark, 31, who has followed a gluten-free diet for four years due to an allergy, gave it a thumbs up. “It tastes sweet, like a Japanese beer. I like it,” she said, noting just a slight aftertaste.
“I think it could catch on here because there are a lot of gluten-free people who need affordable beer alternatives,” she added. “If it’s the same price or close to the same price as regular Coors, I think it will sell well.”
While retail prices will vary, the company spokesperson said Coors Peak would be priced just above Coors Light and Coors Banquet.
Another Portland resident, Alexander Fitch, 24, said he preferred a locally made gluten-free microbrew, Omission, which “tasted less like rice” than the Coors. (Omission is brewed with malted barley and yeast, like traditional beer, but brewers add an enzyme during the process to remove the gluten proteins.)
Other tasters concurred that Coors Peak had a “caramel” or “toasted” flavor, that it was not very filling, and that “it could totally pass for regular beer.”