|Vagabond pale ale by BrewDog|
Too much good beer can be a bad thing, but only being able to drink bad beer is not good at all. And not being able to drink any beer at all, good or bad, must be murder. About 1% of the population have coeliac disease, which means their bodies can't cope with a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye and barley - used to make malt for beer - and ingesting it can cause a range of symptoms such as headaches, diarrhoea, nausea, fatigue, and in the most extreme cases, anaphylactic shock. Consequences far worse than even the most punishing hangover then.
Since the explosion in good beers, gluten intolerants and sufferers of coeliac disease have increasingly found their tastes and needs catered to. And so, due to popular demand, over the next few weeks this column will seek out, review and recommend a few good gluten-free beers, ones worth drinking even if gluten doesn't leave you in a curled up ball of pain.
First off is BrewDog's new beer, Vagabond, a 4.5% Pale Ale that was released as a prototype last year but which has now just joined the brewer's Headliners range. It's in some pretty solid company, and stands alongside mighty beers such as Punk IPA, Dead Pony Pale Ale, Five AM Red Ale, This.Is.Lager. and Brixton Porter.It pours a lively deep, clear gold with a healthy froth. It looks and smells delicious, and your first sensation on taking a drink is a pleasing hop rush with heaps of bittering - tangerine, grapefruit, resin - that comes in fighting but quickly fades to leave a light-bodied finish with just enough of caramel malt character to satisfy a beer hunger. Towards the end, you're left with a savoury sensation, and a soft dose of grapefuit lingering in the sides of your mouth.
First off, the aroma is a big blast of grapefruit and pineapple. Maybe some peach in there too. The Centennial and Amarillo hops smell delicious and inviting - pretty much what you'd expect a pale ale from the brewing behemoths at BrewDog.