Established over twenty years ago in 1993, Uinta Brewing has been attracting fans of craft beer throughout its history. The Salt Lake City based brewery is now about to launch a completely new lineup of beers that will satisfy a slightly different craft beer demographic, one that is gluten sensitive. In the coming weeks Uinta will launch its first Gluten Free line of beer with Free From IPA and Free Form Belgian-Style Blonde Ale in 4-pack, 12 oz. bottles.
Earlier this week Uinta brewing launched these two new beers for the first time here in Portland. The Rose City has one of the largest target audiences for Gluten Free beer. For the launch Uinta brought Steve Mills, Uinta Brewing CEO, and Isaac Winter, Head Brewer R&D, to Portland to help facilitate this unveiling.
“It was a challenge to come up with these two beers,” announced Mills at the first launch of the Free Form series in Portland. “The best compliment I receive is when someone comes up to me and says that this is really good beer!”
A few years back Uinta had the German based BrauKon produced its new 130 BBL brewhouse. When this went online the brewery had its former 40 BBL brewhouse available for special projects. From here on out this smaller system will be designated solely for producing Uinta’s lineup of Gluten Free beer. This separation from its normal lineup of beers is extremely important for those concerned about gluten entering their bodies.
But to test beers on a even much smaller system Uinta uses its 1 BBL test system called “Ruby”. The beers we sampled at this preview were both brewed on this nano system and are currently being scaled up for the beers release in the coming month.
Both Free From IPA and Free Form Belgian-Style Blonde Ale are made using absolutely now gluten. These two beers are not gluten-reduced beers as a few breweries offer. For those concerned that gluten does not enter their body these two beers can be ones for these individuals. The Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO), the leading gluten-free certification program in the world, certifies each Free Form beer offering does not contain an discerning levels of gluten.
So how does Uinta produce these Gluten Free beers? Both beers are produced with 100 percent naturally gluten-free ingredients. What Uinta does is use millet and buckwheat in lieu of malted barley and does not take the approach that some breweries do with only “removing” the gluten through an enzyme reducing process. Each batch of Free Form will be tested twice: once by an external certified lab and once in house using Glutenox Detection, which has the ability to detect gluten as low as 5 parts per million.
“We take pride in crafting high-quality beers in a variety of styles so that everyone can enjoy a Uinta, and Free Form is a natural extension of that,” stated Steve Mills in a press release. “Our brewing team set out to make gluten-free beer that didn’t compromise on taste, and the end result offers something that both celiac and craft beer enthusiasts will savor.”
Both beers tasted quite well and the use of millet and buckwheat performed quite well as a barley substitute. The Free Form IPA is definitely on the lower bittering side of things but Winter felt that the final batch that will be released will kick that up a bit. But when it comes to the Free Form Belgian-Style Blonde Ale this beer truly shines. The subtle Belgian notes within this beer will allow it to sit alongside any “regular” beer in one’s beer fridge. Best of all both beers are true session beers at only 4.3% ABV.
Free Form IPA Brewery Description:
Citra and Ella hops impart a bright and tropical essence to this exceptionally thirst-quenching and well-rounded brew.
Malts: Millet, Buckwheat
Hops: Citra, Ella, Cascade
Alcohol by Volume: 4.3%
Free Form Belgian-Style Blonde Ale Brewery Description:
Slight hints of coriander and orange peel partner perfectly with Sterling and Opal hops to set off this extremely sessionable ale.
Malts: Millet, Buckwheat
Hops: Sterling, Opal
Spices: Coriander, Orange Peel
Alcohol by Volume: 4.3%
Both Free From IPA and Free Form Belgian-Style Blonde Ale will be available in four-pack 12 oz. bottles at a SRP of $11.99 in Oregon, Washington and Utah beginning in early May. The rest of Uinta’s 35 state distribution area will likely see the two new Gluten Free beers by the first of June.
D.J. is a Portland, Oregon based writer that spent his formative years in the Midwest. With over 20 years under his belt of drinking beer at festivals across America and the world, he has developed a strong appreciation and understanding of craft beer and the industry that surrounds it. He can be found in any of the great breweries or beer bars that make Portland the best beer city in the world. His writing can also be found in Northwest Brewing News and can be followed on Twitter at @hopapalooza.