Are You Tasting the Pith? - 23rd May 04
I am familiar with dilemma for sufferers of coeliacs disease. They are gluten intolerant individuals, not in a trendy "oh, my wheat intolerance is playing up" way, but a genuine, unpleasant medical condition. At the shop, we see quite a lot of them, hunting for interesting gluten-free intoxicants. Cider is a big one, apparently, judging by the amount of cider we sell to them. And there's always the unusual "Nigerian Guinness" - not a knock-off imitation, but a genuine Guinness-brewed product for Nigeria, where coeliacs disease is a big problem.
The holy grail for coeliacs has always been a fully-certified, gluten-free beer. And it seems their wait is over. Derek Green, MD of Green's, appears to be the archetypal successful businessman who, on retiring, decided to look into this problem (he is himself a coeliacs sufferer). After considerable research and testing, Green's now produce a dark ale-style beer (6% abv, no less!), complete with the important "crossed grain" stamp, signifying its gluten free credentials.
Which is fine and dandy, but not so great if it's a weird concoction masquerading as beer. Fear not, however, as Discovery is more than capable of cutting the mustard in this department. It has a good, thick, long-lived head (perhaps a factor of its Belgian microbrewery heritage?), and a deep chocolatey colour with ruddy highlights.
The nose is pleasingly complex, with hints of cocoa powder, and a herb and spice edge, which is naggingly familiar and yet hard to describe - coriander and nutmeg is as close as I can get, although that falls some way short of a description I would say is anywhere near close. The palate is good, with a pleasant mouthfeel, with the initial malt giving way to a clean, long finish - again with the complex spice flavours.
I can't pretend to know what it must be like to go years without a beer. I crack after a day or so. And while Discovery may not win any medals outside of it's own niche, it thoroughly deserves to have every award going for it's solution to a problem that nobody has even thought to try and solve. No doubt about it, this beer is destined for big things, and there are others brews in the pipeline. That's something that everyone will be able to drink to.
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