The narrative on gluten free beers is, at times, an unfair one. They are often relegated to the corner of the cold case reserved for non-alcoholic beer or seen as an oxymoron.
But gluten-free, locally-produced options have increased dramatically in Kansas City over the past five years and that means we need to be having a conversation around how those options taste. If a brewery puts out a beer or cider, the community should make judgments based on flavor instead of a preconceived notion of what is or isn’t allowed. There’s a whole series of government agencies dedicated to what you can and can’t do with a beer, so let’s leave the gate-keeping to them.
The first local gluten-free offering was at Big Rip Brewing Company, where an unnamed, gluten-free raspberry ale was part of the initial lineup in 2013.
“Drinkers wanted something that wasn’t sweet like cider. Our raspberry ale was still fruity, but not hoppy,” co-founder Josh Collins said.
When Collins was opening the brewery with Kipp Feldt, his wife found out that she had celiac disease. Collins wanted to make sure his spouse had something she could drink at the new brewery. The beer, made with pounds of raspberries, uses sorghum and rock candy as a base.
“People come in all the time and say, ‘oh that must be awful,'”Collins said. “Then they try it and say, ‘that’s really tasty.”
The beer was eventually named Satine, in honor of Nicole Kidman’s character in “Moulin Rouge.” It’s the first of Big Rip’s brews that was a nod to something other than a science fiction or horror character.
“I guess this beer goes in other directions from all other beers, so the name feels fitting,” Collins said.
The North Kansas City brewery is also working on a different version in the coming weeks featuring jalapeños. Big Rip is not the only local brewery producing a gluten-free beer. Martin City Brewing Company’s Operation: Yoga Pants is a canned amber brew made with millet and buckwheat. The brewery has a pair of brew pubs that serve pizza and both locations also offer gluten-free crust.
In addition to beer, there are lots of local, gluten-free cider options. In North Kansas City, Cinder Block and Calibration brew their own cider. In Kansas City, KC Bier Co. and Casual Animal Brewing (Vipers in the Garden is a semi-sweet offering on tap right now) make cider, too. Boulevard Brewing Company put out City Market Cider last year for the first time and plans to bring it back this fall. KC Cider Co. out of St. Joseph, Missouri, just released a new experimental hopped cider into the Kansas City market.
Several wineries in the area also produce cider. KC Wine Co. in Olathe, Kansas, Somerset Ridge Vineyard makes Lucky Dog Hard Cider in Paola, Kansas, and KC Wineworks in the Crossroads makes cider via its sister operation: KC Ciderworks.
And mead may very well be the next big trend in Kansas City. Black Labs Craft Meadery will debut a new release, a dessert mead made with four kinds of berries (black raspberries, blueberries, dark cherries and strawberries) and cocoa nibs, at The Festival of The Lost Township this Saturday. New Axiom Brewing Co. and Kaw Point Meadery both have mead operations in the works.
The Rieger (1924 Main St.) is holding a three-course beer dinner featuring the Torn Label Brewing Co. between 6:30 and 10 p.m on Tuesday, Oct. 2. Tickets are $60.
Bier Station and BKS Artisan Ales are collaborating on a New England-style IPA. The beer will be a Bier Station exclusive and is expected to be ready on Friday, Oct. 26.
Rock & Run Brewing Co. is shipping out 5K IPA cans this week and canning Ryely Porter in October.
Colony’s (312 Armour Road, North Kansas City, Missouri) Cinco Wheat will be back on tap this Sunday and a batch of Kansas City Coffee Kolsch is in the works, likely out the first week in October.
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