Ever since being diagnosed with a wheat allergy, I have been searching high and wide for a gluten-free option to satiate my thirst for delicious beer.
At first, I was fairly optimistic. Because wheat allergy and celiac disease diagnoses have been on the rise, there are a decent amount of companies putting out gluten-free brews and it appeared there was even a good amount of variety to delve into.
After sampling the relatively well-known brand Bard's, I convinced myself that perhaps this whole wheat allergy business wouldn't be so devastating after all. I told myself I would have no problem drinking a few of these sorghum-based beers and even enjoying them. The truth is, however, like Sarah Palin at a Mensa conference...I was living a lie.
Now I can't claim to have tried every gluten-free beer out there. In fact, I have really just scratched the surface of all the variety on the market. But as I faced the row of gluten-free beers this week, trying to decide which brew to put my trust in, I have to admit I didn't have much hope. It's not that all the gluten-free offerings I've tried were terrible; it's just that they weren't the beer I had come to know and love.
Enter Estrella Damm's pale lager, Duara. With its bright red packaging and Spanish-looking label, it certainly didn't seem to fit in with its celiac-friendly counterparts. As I further inspected this desert rose, I noticed it proclaimed itself the winner of two consecutive World Beer Awards in the category of gluten-free beer.
Furthermore, I saw that in fact it was not strictly a gluten-free beer at all, but instead contained less than 6 parts per million (under 20 ppm is generally considered 'gluten-free')! Real barley and fancy awards right on the packaging?! Duara, you know me too well.
I was hoping to avoid the synthetic taste so common to many sorghum-based brews, but who knows what kind of compromises Estrella had to make to get their product under 6 ppm? No need to build the suspense. I took a serious swig without a second thought, and allowed myself to give in to the brew. What sweet redemption!
For the first time in too long, I tasted the unmistakable flavor of real beer. No more flatness. No more strange aftertaste. No more compromises. No more disappointment.
As I came back down, I took a more objective look at my new friend Duara. Perhaps it was not as mind-blowing as it seemed when I took that first "sip." My instincts were right about it being Spanish. Duara had a nice golden color, with a decent white head sorely lacking in the previous gluten-free beers I've sampled. Being a Spanish beer, it was nice and refreshing, with a mild hoppy flavor and various other minor notes.
Overall, really, it didn't have anything near the complexity of something like Delirium. But I'm cool with that—it's the first gluten-free option I've had that actually tasted like beer. Well under the 20 ppm recommended for safe gluten consumption, it gave me no problems at all, and for the first time I could see myself having, and more importantly enjoying another one.