Gluten Free Beer Swap Day (Take 2)

After a successful first gluten free beer swap back in January, it was time again for Pete (@GFManc) and myself (@GlutenFreePint) to meet up once more to exchange beers, catch up and enjoy a few drinks! This time it was my turn to head over The Pennines into Manchester as last time we did the swap in Sheffield!

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The first stop of the day was Wine & Wallop a wine and real ale bar in the heart of West Didsbury. Earlier this week they had held a meet the brewer session with First Chop, so we were in luck… four gluten free beers on cask! Where better could we have gone for our first stop? The options were all from First Chop – Sup (3.9% Session IPA), IPA (4% Juicy IPA), JAM (4% Mango Pale) & SYL (6.2% Black IPA). Pete started the day with a pint of the JAM and i went for the SYL, we’d both already had all the beers on offer here so went for our favourites!

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It was then time for a quick stop at Pete’s place where the swap took place! We’d both sourced yet more new beers for each other from around the UK to swap – slightly more difficult than last time as we’ve now both had over 150 different gluten free beers! With beers from Brightside Brewing, Wildside Brewing, Arbor Ales, Daas, Hadrian Border Brewery, Firebird Brewery, Firebrick Brewery, Nene Valley Brewery, Shiny Brewery, The Brew Foundation and Sadlers Ales there was quite a few beers to go around! I’m sure we’ll both enjoy the beers we have swapped over the coming weeks!

 

It was then onwards and upwards into the Rainy City – where for the first time ever in living history the sun was actually shining, Paul The Weatherman must’ve known it was Gluten Free Beer Swap Day and told the sun to put it’s hat on! Special thanks to Sue (Pete’s Wife) for the lift back into the city too so we could continue the celebrations of Gluten Free Beer Swap Day!

The first call in the city was The Dockyard in the Spinningfields area, recommended by Pete as a good shout and regularly have a gluten free option on tap. We weren’t to be disappointed either with two choices on the keg line for us, First Chop PIP (6.5% Grapefruit Saison) and Brightside Maverick (4.8% IPA). Neither of us had had the Brightside Maverick before so two pints were ordered – brewed using hops from the USA and New Zealand, the beer has a grapefruit aroma finished with a refreshing dry bitterness giving you the feeling of wanting to drink more!

Swiftly moving on to The Brink around the Deansgate area – a hidden gem of a micropub. Located at the bottom of a steep flight of stairs decorated with bees (the symbol of Manchester), The Brink claims to be a Dinky Downstairs Drinkery and I couldn’t agree more! The fridges were lined with choices from First Chop, Wildside and Magic Rock Fantasma. However the keg tap on the end of the bar drew our attention away from the fridges. The ever so helpful bar staff checked if Brightside Helles Lager was gluten free on keg, thankfully the response was positive and so a pint each was ordered – another new beer for me! Possibly one of the nicest lagers I’ve had at 4.8% with a crisp refreshing taste and slight citrusy aroma. Pete had kindly picked me a can of this up too for the beer swap!

We’ll not discuss the walk between The Brink and Port Street Beer House – after giving someone directions towards Strangeways, walking for what seemed like miles and calling in a pub en-route that had NO gluten free beer we made it to Port Street Beer House. The fridges were the best bet here, with Magic Rock Fantasma, some of the First Chop range and also Burnt Mill Steel Cut plus a beer we shouldn’t talk about on keg. We opted for a can of the Burnt Mill Steel Cut (rather pricey at £8.20) a 4.2% Pale Ale, one of the best gluten free beers on the market & the base of two new beers we’ve seen recently from Northern Monk and Cloudwater. We also had Magic Rock Saucery too, a 3.9% Session IPA which is essentially a watered down Fantasma. We’ll await an official announcement from Magic Rock regarding this beer in the near future too…

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57 Thomas Street in the Northern Quarter was next, with not much choice on the gluten free beer front it was either Fantasma, Fantasma or Fantasma… so we opted for a can of Fantasma each. Topping both Pete’s and my beer of the year last year, we’ve both already discussed that it’s been pushed from the top spot by a few other good beers this year! The 6.5% IPA from Magic Rock gives a tropical aroma and happened to match the tshirt I was wearing, I’ll be known as Fantasaman from this point forward! Even the staff at 57 Thomas Street couldn’t help but notice the link between my top and the beer I was drinking!

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It was then on to the Piccadilly Tap located just outside of the main Piccadilly Station, last time I was here back in November (on a journey to Spain) they had a variety of First Chop cans in the fridges, this time however the First Chop cans had been replaced by Magic Rock Fantasma and the range from Brass Castle plus First Chop Sup on keg. We both went for a pint of First Chop Sup, a 3.9% session IPA giving a tropical aroma with slight bitter finish. It was at this point we discussed our fate for the remainder of the day! After a quick spot of googling we decided on our final 3 venues for the day.

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GRUB was to be our next venue, which I’d highly recommend to anyone visiting Manchester, located just by Piccadilly station the street food fair brings together great food and craft ales in an open air location – perfect for when the sun is shining like yesterday! Our beer choices again were either Magic Rock Fantasma on keg, or the Brass Castle range in cans. To keep things mixed up Pete went for one of his favourites – Brass Castle Bad Kitty – a 5.5% vanilla porter, and I went for the Brass Castle Hoptical Illusion – a 4.3% pale ale. Both drinks were enjoyed along with some excellent street food (even if a little on the hot side!)

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Just around the corner in the station arches is Beer Merchants – Unit 101 MCR, which has the feel of a popup bar – only opening on a Saturday, we’d dropped on! After checking the cask/keg lineup and the fridges are options here again were limited to First Chop in cans. We both opted for the First Chop SPA – a 4.5% Pale Ale brewed specifically for the Salford Food & Drink Festival last year, yet thankfully continues to be availalbe. SPA is both of our favourite beer from the First Chop range and again was enjoyed!

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Finally it was time to hit our final venue of the evening. Not too far away from Beer Merchants also in the railway arches is home to possibly one of the most famous craft breweries in the UK, Cloudwater. Their beer is raved about from beer experts around the country so it was only fair we popped in to say hello. After releasing a gluten free beer in collaboration with Burnt Mill around 3 weeks ago, we heard it’d sadly been removed from sale due to hop-burn. Thankfully I’d managed to grab a can of it in the short time it was available, but Pete hadn’t been so lucky. After talking to bribing the bar staff for a few minutes and explaining our situation, we were kindly gifted with two cans of Cloudwater Disturbing The Oats – a 6.5% IPA. It was still clear the hop-burn was present, however did seem to have improved from the first time I’d drank it. Despite Cloudwaters disappointment in this beer (they have exceptionally high standards), I was still pretty impressed with the Disturbing The Oats and have another can or two to enjoy at home yet!

 

And that was it for Gluten Free Beer Swap Day 2! We hope you enjoyed reading about our swap and the beers we enjoyed in Manchester… until next time, goodbye!

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WTF! Breaking News From GlutenFreePint…

It’s been a while since my last blog post, but today I bring exciting news from the world of Gluten Free Beer and I! We all remember the days when Daura and Greens dominated the gluten free beer industry, but things couldn’t be looking any different today if they tried.

Subconsciously I must have known something was going to happen, as I was about to write a blog last night about which brewer may be next to launch a new gluten free beer for us in 2018. Not less than 24 hours after this thought, groundbreaking news has happened today… and it’s not a news story to ignore!

So quickly a recap on 2018 so far, we’re already 4 months in so it’s probably about time we had a little update on gluten free beers. ‘The Steel City’ as I call it, continues to dominate the market in gluten free beer, probably partly to do with my continuous campaigning for more gluten free beer, and also the fact it is possibly the beer capital of the UK. Putting that to one side, the amount of cask/keg beer in the city suitable for those following a gluten free diet seems to be becoming more and more available. Without going into too much detail, we regularly see the following breweries appearing in the city with their gluten free offerings:

  • Arbor (Simcoe / Citra / Mosaic)
  • Shiny (Affinity / Happy People / Disco Balls) etc….
  • Magic Rock (Fantasma)
  • First Chop (their full range)
  • Brew Foundation (Free Beer)
  • Sentinel (all their beer is now brewed to a GF standard)

All great beers and well worth enjoying at a variety of pubs/bars throughout Sheffield that continuously serve the gluten free world! A shout out to the following venues:

  • Bar Stewards
  • Shakespeare
  • Rutland Arms
  • Devonshire Cat
  • Head of Steam
  • Sheffield Tap
  • Ecclesall Ale House
  • The Old Workshop
  • Sentinel Brewhouse

I’m sure I’ve missed some other great venues off too (sorry – there’s so many these days!). But a massive mention to The Head of Steam who managed to have a whopping 4 gluten free cask/keg beers on at once last week, this was Gluten Free Heaven.

Back on topic – as the afternoon was going on, a tweet from Beer Central popped up… I had to read over this at least three times and confirm with @OnTheBarSheffield what I was seeing wasn’t a dream! A new Gluten Free Beer on the market, not from any old brewer, but Northern Monk – a renowned craft brewer from nearby Leeds.

 

Northern Monk – DDH Gluten Free Pale Ale

Brewed in collaboration with Burnt Mill and Whiplash Brewing, this 5.5% DDH Pale Ale is certainly one to get excited about! This new beer is brewed with Citra, Ekuanot, Amarillo and Simco hops. I’m yet to try it, but there is one in the fridge chilling for this evening 🙂 I’ll let you all know how it goes down later! Brewed with Oats instead of Wheat and Barley, this beer is not only Gluten Free but also NGCI!

As the afternoon continued, it was time for a quick afterwork drink in The Sheffield Tap with @OnTheBarSheff who also runs @SheffieldHopcast for a beer and chat (Fantasma on Keg this time) – quite a regular occurrence may I say! As we were chatting away, a notification came in from the Facebook group Beers4Coeliacs about another new beer this time from a brewer over the Pennines in Manchester… the one and only Cloudwater.

Cloudwater – Disturbing The Oats

Again brewed in collaboration with Burnt Mill, this 6.5% Oat Malt IPA is another to shout home about! Brewed with Citra, Chinook and Pilgrim Hops, it should be a pretty interesting beer! I’m yet to track this one down, but when I do, you’ll all have a report on how great it tastes no doubt!

So there we have it, not one new beer, but two in the same day from two excellent brewers! Today can officially be marked in the calendar as Gluten Free Beer Day!

This leaves me with one question, what next? Here’s my thoughts….

  • Thornbridge (have promised something this year)
  • Magic Rock (could we see another to sit side by side with Fantasma?)
  • Buxton Brewery
  • Beavertown
  • Oakham Ales
  • Siren

Let me know yours below! Both Northern Monk and Cloudwater would have been on that list this morning!

Gluten Free Beer Takeover!

You heard it here first, Brimming with Beer just down the road in Chesterfield are hosting a Gluten Free Beer Takeover! Who’d have thought it? A weekend with the taps dedicated to gluten free beers for everyone to enjoy!

 

After speaking with Ben who runs Brimming with Beer, it sounds as if his idea of a garden shed bar in the back garden got a little out of hand and transformed into an actual bottle shop and micropub… so what better than a real beer enthusiast to run a gluten free beer takeover! Ben confirmed a few weeks ago, Gun Scaramanga was his best selling beer on keg, now that was lined up against some of the top gluten containing beers too.

 

Between Friday 6th & Sunday 8th April, the Gluten Free Beer Takeover will feature both bottled and canned beers along with 6 keg beers all which are gluten free. So hopefully you’re now excited to hear about the line up, and a little review of each beer from Sheffield’s renowned Gluten Free Beer expert! @GlutenFreePint (Twitter / Instagram)

 

Gun Brewery – Scaramanga (3.9% Extra Pale Ale)

This beer was first introduced to me by The Sheffield Tap, when enquiring about their gluten free beer range, I’d never seen this particular beer before so thought it would be worth a try, initially in a can. Most recently this beer has also been available on both cask & keg around Sheffield (I’m told it’s currently on at The Devonshire Cat on keg!). Brewed with zesty and floral hops, this unfined beer is also suitable for vegans. Currently the only beer available from Gun Brewery that is gluten free.

 

Arbor – Citra (4% Pale Ale)

Initially it was Oz Bomb, then Simcoe and now Citra! Arbor are putting an awful lot of time into gluten free brews recently, and it’s fair to say they’re some of the best gluten free beers around! Brewed with Citra hops, gives the grapefruit, melon, lime and passionfruit aroma. Rumour on the block is a Mosaic beer will be the next in the gluten free run from Arbor.

 

Shiny Brewing – Happy People (4.2% Pale Ale)

Fairly new to the gluten free game are Shiny Brewery based just outside Derby so probably the most local gluten free brewery to Brimming with Beer. Shiny now produce all their core range to a gluten free standard, but let me tell you by using clarex to remove the gluten it certainly doesn’t remove any of the taste! Brewed with 5 different hops to create a happy flavour, it certainly makes me a happy person when I see Shiny Happy People on cask in the local.

 

Brass Castle – Black Russian (7% Baltic Porter)

Brass Castle have been making gluten free beers for a while now, however it wasn’t until late last year they declared all their beers will now be to a gluten free standard! What amazing news it that, brewed just up the road in Malton (North Yorks), it’s great to have another local gluten free brewery. I’ve not been fortunate enough to find the Black Russian yet, but if it matches up with the range I’ve tried so far, I’m sure it’ll be a great beer! Possibly one of the strongest gluten free beers out there too!

 

First Chop – Hop (4.1% Ultra Pale Ale)

Brewed over the pennines in rainy Manchester, First Chop are big players in the Gluten Free Beer market, again their whole range is brewed to a gluten free standard, and it’s safe to say they possibly have the widest range of gluten free beer styles available, ranging from stout through to an IPA and grapefruit saison. As the name suggests, Hop is a very hoppy beer brewed with citra hops.

 

Magic Rock – Fantasma (6.5% India Pale Ale)

In February 2017 something happened that has changed the gluten free beer world forever, our friends at Magic Rock in Huddersfield made an announcement… they were releasing a new beer and it was going to be gluten free, they called it Fantasma! Easily the best gluten free beer in the world, this citra IPA has a rather tropical taste and best served on keg. Initially only launched as a special edition, due to the roaring success Fantasma is now in the core range and here to stay! A little bird from Magic Rock tells me we’ll be seeing a more session-able gluten free beer from them in the near future too (keep your eyes pealed!).

 

Brimming with Beer also tell me they have an extensive range of can and bottled gluten free beer availalbe throughout the weekend! So get yourselves down to the Gluten Free Beer Takeover, and lets make a great success of it so we see another one again in the not so distant future hopefully with an even wider selection of beers!

More Information Here: https://www.facebook.com/events/374742943002926/

Gluten Free Beer Swap Day

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T’was a bleak Saturday afternoon in the Steel City on the 20th January, but nether the less, it was Gluten Free Beer Swap Day, so that certainly brightened the air for two beer lovers residing on opposite sides of the Pennines. Thanks to the Facebook group Beers4Coeliacs, Twitter and Instagram, @GlutenFreePint discovered @GfManc, and that he was trying to achieve a similar goal over in Manchester. So what was left to do other than meet up for a few pints of the gluten free beer and exchange beers with each other.

In true fashion, Gluten Free Beer Swap Day was slightly delayed thanks to both the heavy traffic in Sheffield and the great service provided by the railways in the north of England. However our first stop was The Devonshire Cat – where Liz the manager happens to be a Coeliac too. So not only do they stock a vast range of bottles that are gluten free, but also have a dedicated cask and keg line. Sadly the keg line was off on Saturday – I’m informed this is due to a delivery arriving today from the Huddersfield area… it has to be Fantasma! Their regular cask beer, Raw Independence was however rocking the bar, which happened to be a new beer for @GfManc. Here we enjoyed our first beer and put a little route together of places to call along the way (we may have thrown a few extras in too).

Okay so moving on, the next stop was The Beer Engine. I’ve been here several times and it’s pretty hit and miss as to what’s available gluten free. Last month they had a wide range of beers available from Brass Castle along with Arbor Simcoe, Gun Brewery Scaramanga and Fantasma, however to our dismay there was only bottled Daura available, but who can have a gluten free beer crawl without the old classic? Talking to the bar staff, the kegs they had on went down really well, they just didn’t order any more, however she is going to speak to the cellar manager to see what’s going on!

So pub 3 found us in the Ecclesall Ale Club, owned by the Brew Foundation. It’s only been open just over a month, and knowing they brew their own gluten free beer it was only fair to call in to say hello. Our third beer was therefore Brew Foundation Free Beer (sadly we did have to pay for it). @GfManc had a similar first experience to Free Beer as me, where we’d sworn not to drink it again, however following the massive improvement in the brewing process it’s now a very drinkable gluten free APA. It’s sometimes availalbe on draft, however was only availalbe in bottles on Gluten Free Beer Swap Day.

Swiftly moving on to our next venue, which actually dictated our route, was The Beer House where one of my new favourites happened to be on keg was Arbor Simcoe, the refreshing citrus beer was that good we had an extra half before hitting the road for our next stop. Talking to the bar staff, they have the cask version coming on at some point this week too and were looking at the option of getting hold of more gluten free cask / keg beer in the future. We then found ourselves in a True North pub, The Broadfield – who always stock a variety of First Chop cans. It turns out we’d only missed First Chop Hop on keg that afternoon… but the extra half of Simcoe was worth it! So both enjoyed a can of First Chop Pop, the citrus IPA.

Five venues in, we felt it was only fair to call into Turners Bottle Shop on our walk back into town towards the station to complete our beer swap and head our opposite ways. After talking with the owner in Turners, he said the gluten free beer he was selling went down really well and was looking at stocking some more in the near future, I’m sure @GlutenFreePint will more than happily help him choose and drink some of the best beers on the market. During our 20 minute long conversation, another customer appeared in the shop who seemed rather interested in what we were talking about. It turned out Noreen also couldn’t eat gluten and wanted more information about gluten free beer too, we were happy to oblige! Taking to the streets of Sheffield with a bottle of Bellfield Lawless Village IPA it was time to find our second to last venue of the day.

Less than 10 meters as the crow flies from my new office lies the Sentinel Brewhouse, and due to the efforts they go to, it was only fair to include this on what has by this time turned into a pub crawl. A regular visitor to the Sentinel for the past year or so, I discovered thanks to Simone (a member of staff) that their PVO was gluten free. After questioning this, I was informed that Clarex was used during the brewing process to remove the gluten, so started to enjoy this beer. A few months later, when pushing #The12GlutenFreeBeersOfChristmas, I met with Alex their head brewer to discuss about their beers and the Clarex situation. Alex kindly informed me it’s not only the PVO, but also the CK, ZF and (unfortunately) Kop Lager that is also brewed this way. We can’t 100% verify these beers are gluten free, however taking Alex’s advice and the lack of ill effects from drinking these, I’m pretty confident they are. We chose not only to stay here for one pint, but instead two – so a pint of PVO and ZF was enjoyed.

Now for our final venue of the day, The Sheffield Tap – a place I’ve been known to regularly visit both waiting for delayed trains and quite simply to enjoy a beer or two! Their regular GFPA from Allendale wasn’t available on Saturday, however they did have a wide variety in the fridge including both Bernard and TO0L which we both enjoyed. After clearing it with the bar staff, we also set out to do what we had planned for the day… swap beers! This happened to draw quite a crowd to our table full of almost 20 different beers, including both the duty manager from The Sheffield Tap and a brewer from Abbeydale Brewery (more on this shortly).

@GfManc had brought a wide selection of Wildside Beers from the ‘wild side’ of the Pennines for me to try, along with a Daas Blond which were all new beers for me – sadly I’ve not yet had chance to try any yet, however I’m sure that’ll have changed by the end of the week! I shared a range of Shiny beers, Anarchy Exile and a few others I’d managed to grab from a visit to The House of Trembling Madness in York earlier in the week. Beer swap and photo shoot over it was time to enjoy the rest of the Bernard and TO0L before heading the few yards to the platform for trains back home.

Whilst however swapping the beers, a couple on the table next to us, who just so happened to be on their first date got rather excited about what was going off and the beers we were sharing. No wonder when one of them was a brewer for Abbeydale Brewery. I’m not sure how well the date was going before we arrived, but sadly I think it’s fair to say we officially ruined their first date, questioning him about Abbeydale Brewery and their gluten free beers. It was on the off chance I’d overheard about a week ago that Abbeydale Heaven was gluten free. It was confirmed it was, as Clarex was added, and it was initially tested as gluten free however due to the costs associated and the reason for doing so each individual batch isn’t certified. I for one will be giving Heathen a shot sooner rather than later, if you try it up to you!

After @GfManc had missed everything but the very last train to Manchester, it was time to head home and both enjoy sore heads on Sunday morning with special thanks to gluten free beers. It’s safe to say however Gluten Free Beer Swap Day was a massive success and I’m sure another one will be in the pipeline in the near future on the other side of the hills!

@GlutenFreePint

Gluten Free Beer in A Year… 2017

It wasn’t until around 18 months ago I properly began my gluten free beer journey, before this I was happy to accept Cider as the only option available to me, or on the rare occasion Daura Damm by Estrella, thinking this was the only gluten free beer out there.

With a group of friends I work with, we do a monthly pub crawl around the Sheffield area, known as Brewcrew, this is what happened to get me interested in the craft gluten free beer scene, more so over the past 12 months. By this time last year I’d already discovered First Chop, Wold Top and Brewdog Vagabond amongst a few other more regular beers including the gluten free Peroni and other supermarket available beers.

During the first few weeks of 2017, I made my first visit to Beer Central, a handy little bottle shop located in Sheffield’s Moor Markets and managed to discover a few new gluten free beers, namely from Brass Castle Brewery based in Malton North Yorkshire with their Helles Lager, Sunshine IPA and Bad Kitty Stout – this was almost the start of my craft gluten free beer journey. Over the following weeks I returned to Beer Central on finding out they’d increased their gluten free range by now including some First Chop cans and Brewdog Vagabond.

And then something happened, that has perhaps changed the world of gluten free beer forever. Not too many miles away from home, over in West Yorkshire an idea was brewing. Before we knew it, a new gluten free beer had hit the local pubs in the Sheffield area, Fantasma from Magic Rock. Turning up to the local pubs and having this 6.5% citrus beer on a keg line was nothing short of amazing. Fantasma was also canned and various outlets through Sheffield stocked it. But Fantasma was short lived, within just over three weeks it was gone, as it wasn’t a Magic Rock core range beer there was no confirmation we would ever get to drink Fantasma again, even though it did go down just as well with the none gluten free community!

March then came around pretty quick, with a trip to the BeerX Festival in Sheffield where there was a selection of gluten free beers on offer, ranging from cans of First Chop through to Wold Top Scarborough Fair IPA on keg. It would have been good to have seen a gluten free category in the beer awards, but equally as good to see gluten free beers outdoing the competition of regular beers. My work colleagues then arranged my birthday gift, knowing I’m now heavily into my beer trying to seek out more and more gluten free beers, a with ‘Gluten Free Beer Store’ on the side arrived, 12 new gluten free beers to try I’d never sampled before plus another two new in at Tesco from Redwell Brewery. By this point, my gluten free beer count is probably around 25, but that wasn’t enough, there were more gluten free beers to be found.

A visit to Birmingham saw the number increase thanks to a local brewery from the Dudley area, Sadlers and their range of gluten free beers. I only managed to find one pub that had this available, the Canalside in the mailbox area, however was well worth the find. Shortly after this was a trip over the pond to Drogheda, about 30 minutes north of Dublin, where I discovered there was a bar in the town called Bru, knowing about the Bru Brewery I could only imagine these two were linked so paid them a visit only to find Bru Lager on keg, they also have a few other locations out in Ireland, well worth a drink if you’re out there. Coincidently in another pub over there I tracked down Wold Top Against The Grain, one of my most local brewers for gluten free beer at home.

Moving into mid April, I’d heard on the grapevine Magic Rock Fantasma was making a come back! So what better to do than head to the Magic Rock Tap it’s self for a quick brewery tour followed by a few pints right there in their very own taproom. I of course couldn’t resist brining a few of their cans back for later consumption too. Shortly after this, Fantasma again started to appear in the bars and shops throughout Sheffield, all rightly so making a song and dance about it. Of course, once again we lost Fantasma after a few weeks but made a return again in the summer months and just prior to Christmas.

Gluten Free Beer continued over the course of the next few months to be a common theme of discussion, continuing to discover yet more gluten free beers I’d not sampled before. The Sheffield Station Tap began to stock the gluten free version of Bernard in bottle along with their standard offerings of Bernard which went down a treat, and now often have GFPA from Allendale Brewery available on cask or keg, both well worth a trip into the tap for! Their offering also continued to grow throughout the later course of 2017, introducing Arbor OZ Bomb and Gun Scaramanga to the Sheffield area.

Continuing to drink in the Devonshire Cat, where the manager happens to be a coeliac too, their great range of gluten free beers excelled throughout the year, there is now both a dedicated cask and keg line available serving up a range of First Chop beers, Raw Independence and Magic Rock Fantasma amongst others. They also have a massive bottle stock with around 15 different gluten free beers available to drink in, hence why it wins my award for the Best Gluten Free Pub in Sheffield 2017!

I then took a trip north across the borders to St Andrews in Scotland passing Edinburgh on the way, whilst making a quick overnight stop off in Edinburgh I happened to visit a bar, called the Beer Kitchen, it was obvious they’d have some gluten free offering. Amongst the standard beers I’d heard of before, I was pointed towards two beers from Bellfield Brewery, a pilsner and an IPA both available in bottle and brewed in Edinburgh. Since I was in their city, it was only right I tried the local beer, so did! Both the IPA and Pilsner made for great drinking and it was a shame to not be able to find these beers back home in South Yorkshire. Thankfully on my next trip north of the border to Scotland in September, I managed to find the same bar then had the IPA available on keg. Not only this but I thought it would be a great idea to being 6 of both the IPA and Pilsner back home to enjoy in the comfort of Yorkshire.

Between my two trips up North to Edinburgh enjoying the Bellfield Brewery beers, I discovered a facebook group, Beers4Coeliacs, an amazing community of likeminded people looking to find the very best gluten free beer available. This made me even more aware of the availability of craft gluten free beer throughout the UK.

It was then time for the Sheffield CAMRA Beer Festival held at the Kelham Island Museum, when the beer list was revealed thee were a few beers I recognised from First Chop and also the RAW Independence, alongside this Shiny Brewery had two of their beers at the festival, both of which were gluten free. Affinity and Happy People are two beers I’d never sampled before, both of which ticked the boxes and happened to begin appearing more in pubs around Sheffield following from the festival. It was amazing to be able to attend a beer festival and enjoy the beer along with everyone else there. Sheffield’s own Brew Foundation also had their Free Beer available on cask, last time I’d tried this I wasn’t best impressed but thought it was worth a second opinion, the result was fantastic and instead of having a tobacco aftertaste, it was much more easy drinking and changed my original perception of the beer.

On the way back from the beer festival, we happened to call in to Bar Stewards, a fairly new micropub in the Kelham Island area, first impressions weren’t great… there were no obvious gluten free beers available however after asking it appeared they stocked Arbor Oz Bomb and TOOL and Fantasma in cans. Up on returning to Bar Stewards several times, I discovered one of the owners has a daughter who’s coeliac, hence the availability of gluten free beer in such a small venue. They appeared to be the first place in Sheffield to have the new Arbor Simcoe on cask, and it went down so well, they got it back a few weeks later. There’s also talk of them introducing a dedicated gluten free cask line at some point in the new year – so certainly one to keep an eye out for!

Before I knew it, the year was coming to an end, Christmas was up on us and I’d left it pretty late to sort out my Christmas beer supply. This wasn’t anything to worry about though as our monthly ‘brewcrew’ pub crawl took us to Chesterfield for our Christmas edition where another new beer was ticked off the list, Kennet & Avon Caen Hill Hop found in the Chesterfield Alehouse, several pubs also had RAW Independence or one of the beers from Shiny available as they are both local to the area. On returning to Sheffield for the evening of drinking we called in both a Thornbridge pub and a True North pub both of which as promised now stock First Chop cans as standard.

Christmas beers were then sorted, with another order from the Gluten Free Beer Store, this time a mini-keg of Kennet & Avon Caen Hill Hop after the sampling in Chesterfield earlier in the week. Obviously I couldn’t place an order without choosing another 12 new beers to sample over the festive season either. Oh and just on a side note, an early Christmas present from Magic Rock announcing Fantasma will be in their core range from next year!

So there we have 2017, the year of gluten free beer. Hopefully 2018 will bring yet more new beers to the table for us to enjoy and a much wider availability in pubs and bars throughout the country. Now time for some awards from GlutenFreePint

 

Best Bar for Gluten Free in Sheffield

Devonshire Cat

Bar StewardsHighly Commended

Sheffield TapHighly Commended

 

Best Gluten Free Beer

Magic Rock Fantasma

Bellfield Bohemian PilsnerHighly Commended

Arbor SimcoeHighly Commended

 

Best Gluten Free Brewery

First Chop

Bellfield BreweryHighly Commended

 

From GlutenFreePint we wish you all the best for 2018, happy drinking and beer hunting! I have a can of Fantasma or two chilling in the fridge to welcome in the new year!

Day 5 – The 12 Gluten Free Beers of Christmas

Okay, so after an interesting weekend of enjoying not so beery drinks on Saturday (cider at the local pub) and Sunday (mulled wine at the Christmas Markets) I thought it would be only fair to share with you a proper beer… and as it hits the top spot as my personal favourite, the best gluten free beer I have found to date, I introduce to you the Fantastic (no pun intended) Magic Rock – Fantasma!

Magic Rock are a well known brewery based in Huddersfield, not too far from Sheffield so their beer is pretty widely available. It was one work lunch time, on one of my regular visits to Beer Central in Sheffield Markets, the owner Shaun pointed out he had a new gluten free beer in, Fantasma – so I had no choice but to take one home and give it a go! Lets just say, the following day I was back to buy what was left of the stock.

Over the next couple of days, Fantasma seemed to be appearing more and more throughout Sheffield, the Rutland Arms had it available on keg (amazing!), and cans of it were available in the Sheffield Tap, Wellington & Shakespeare. It wasn’t until a visit to the Devonshire Cat (my favourite pub in Sheffield – due to the beer choice) I found out the story behind Fantasma. Liz, the manager of the Devonshire Cat, a fellow Coeliac is in fact engaged to the head brewer at Magic Rock and was made for her as a valentines gift… who said romance was dead? Of course this therefore meant Fantasma was at the Dev Cat too on keg, but didn’t last too long as I happened to probably drink my way through it just as much as Liz did! If you could fall in love with a beer, this would be the one for me!

Sadly, Fantasma started to disappear off the shelves towards the early March, I’d already drank my way through my selection and there was no news from Magic Rock if there were to be any more produced – as at this point it was a one off beer! Then came April, rumour had it Fantasma was back, so as a now converted Magic Rock lover, it was time to head up to the Magic Rock Tap in Huddersfield (if you haven’t already gone please go!) to have a tour of the brewery, ask all questions Fantasma related and of course drink it until my heart was content. However at 6.5% it doesn’t take too many Fantasma’s until you’ve had too many.

Magic Rock seem to be continuing to brew Fantasma sporadically for now, I think we’ve maybe had 4/5 batches so far, and every time it’s a race to the pub for the first pint of it! Lets just say if you’ve not yet had Fantasma, you’re missing out. A batch of Fantasma has just been released and is currently in The Devonshire Cat (of course), The Wellington, The Shakespeare, The Bar Stewards and Beer Central in the Moor Markets! However please drink responsibly, I want to be able to enjoy it right up until Christmas. So lets just keep our fingers crossed Magic Rock continue to produce batches of Fantasma into the New Year and beyond!

 

Day 4 – The 12 Gluten Free Beers of Christmas

Todays beer is awarded to a local brewery, who have been in the gluten free game perhaps longer than many of the other beers that have made it into our top 12. Wold Top Brewery, based just outside Driffield in East Yorkshire, is a fairly local brewery to us here in Sheffield, so due to the localness, and their dedication to producing gluten free beers, todays beer goes to Wold Top – Against The Grain.

A bonus of Against The Grain, unlike many other brewers is the beer comes in a 500ml bottle rather than 330ml so it’s almost like drinking a real pint! Wold Top is now a very well known brand in the gluten free beer world, and probably one of the most well known beers we have included – fortunately due to this it’s availability throughout Sheffield is very good and alongside a number of the more traditional pubs, is also available in many supermarkets too alongside bottle shops.

Should you be in Sheffield, you are sure to find this beer in both the Fat Cat & Kelham Island Tavern, both in a very popular area of Sheffield – Kelham Island. Alongside this the Sheaf View in Heeley and the Wellington at Neepsend are also known to stock Wold Top Against The Grain. Unbeknown until only a few weeks ago, is Wold Top also produce this beer on Cask, alongside their other well known Scarborough Fair Ale and should you be in East Yorkshire, it’s not uncommon for Wetherspoon’s to have a selection of these available in both bottle and on cask – so on your next trip to the coast keep an eye out!