Note: O’Brien Beer sent these Beers to me. However, all opinions are honest and my own.
While I was diagnosed too young for beer, there are many Coeliacs and gluten intolerant people who have experienced the loss of their favourite alcoholic beverage. Drinking beer is an Australian tradition. So what is an Australian Coeliac to do when it is off the menu?
This is the question that John O’Brien faced when he was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease in 1998. Fun fact: that is the same year I was diagnosed. Instead of giving in and switching to wine or cider he became driven to fill a gap in the market. With no gluten free beers available he became fixated on brewing an ‘all-natural gluten free beer’. His hard work paid off in 2005 when they released O’Brien Beer, the first commercially brewed gluten free beer.
Today, 13 years later they have achieved an award-winning, full-bodied flavour throughout their entire 100% gluten free range. Their products include four seasonal beers and five all-rounders with their latest release the Lager 3.5. As previously mentioned I never had the chance to get into the beer scene so I enlisted the help of the beer drinkers in my life. To help me spread the word about their newest release Rebellion Brewing sent me four of their gluten free beers to discuss with all of you.
A little bit about the Beer
Before we get into the reviews, I thought I should tell you a little about how the beer is created. Creating their gluten free beer requires a little extra effort than a standard beer. As the area is a speciality all their grains have to be sourced fresh from local Australian farmers. These grains are then malted using their own methods and specialized equipment. The grains that O’Brien use for their mash consist of sorghum and millet, they mentioned that they have tried other grains but always come back to these two for the best flavour. To read the full 9 step process you can head over to their website.
The newest member of the O’Brien Beer family is their Lager 3.5. Unlike the other beers I was sent, this is only 3.5% alcohol. Compared to the 4.5% in the other three. It poured as a pale golden colour, the head was not retained for very long. The flavours were very light and clean, with a slight wine afternote. Brody thought that this one reminded him of the classic VB. The flavours were subtle enough that I decided to work them into a beef pie. You can expect that recipe to go live on Australia Day.
The Brown Ale was dark brown in colour when poured. It was definitely the darkest of the four varieties we were sent. Despite the deep colour, it was clear and foamy. It kept its head for a longer amount of time than any of the others. The aroma was rich, with a deep malt scent. It bordered on bitter similarly to that of dark chocolate. Which is why I decided to pair it with chocolate in my Chocolate and Brown Ale cake. The beer added a heavy bitter caramel note to the cake that left it very moist and rich. We could only have a piece each. I will buy the O’Brien Brown Ale again if only just to make this amazing cake. You can find my Chocolate, Brown Ale Cake Recipe here if you missed it.
The O’Brien Pale Ale was the first beer that I ever tried. I used it on Australia Day 2016 to make Beer Battered Prawns. The pale ale is light and really carbonated making it perfect for an airy and crunchy batter. It has a very subtle flavour with aromatics of fruit. I could probably see myself drinking the Pale Ale due to the sweetness in its taste. If you do enjoy cooking with beer, the pale ale would also work really well in a stew or cream based soup.
The Premium lager has a lovely pale amber colouring. When opened you get a whiff of fruity notes. I’d recommend pouring it from a height as it requires heavy aeration for a good head. The beer was quite bubbly on the tongue and the fruity aroma when you first opened the bottle translated into the flavour. Brody wasn’t a fan of this one, however, I feel like it could be one for me to drink. It didn’t taste as heavy as sharp as the others.
The four beers that I reviewed are from their standard line and can be purchased both online in the Rebellion Brewing shop and in selected liquor stores. I have found them in Dan Murphys and First Choice Liquor stores. Depending on where and what type you are purchasing, a case of 24 will set you back between $65 and $100. A bottle costs roughly $4, however, if you are wanting to try more than one type Rebellion have a custom case option.
I hope you have enjoyed this journey into Australia’s first commercially available gluten free beer. Which is your favourite from the O’Brien range, tell us in the comments below? Also, let me know if beer recipes are something that you are enjoying and I’ll be sure to work on some more.
Don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletter for recall notifications and perks.
Until Next Time;
Ashlee; The Aussie Coeliac.