|Celia gluten-free lager|
The Czech people and beer go back a millennium or thereabouts, so they've got a slightly different take on what makes craft beer. But it's nice to see them also cater to modern trends, in this case the rise and rise of gluten intolerance.
Zatec brewery in the town of Zatec in the north-east of Czech Republic has a bit of history. Hop cultivation and brewing in the area goes back some 1000 years, but the brewery itself is a relative newcomer, mashing its tuns for the first time in 1801. It opened due to growing demand: the town's four other breweries couldn't cope with the locals' need for beer!
The brewery - built inside the town's castle walls - suffered during the era of Communism, and in 1991 it was bought over, lavished with investment and has thrived since, recognising that the global market is vital for breweries in a country where beer is cheaper than drinking water.
Among Zatec's core range of bottled beers is its gluten-free lager Celia. This beer won the Best Gluten Free Beer prize at the 2013 FreeFrom Food Awards, and, to be fair, stands up well against your typical lagers, so isn't just for coeliac sufferers and gluten intolerants.
The aroma is a familiar, rich yet delicate lager malt with a spicy, musky undertone. A shade of earth and drying grass there too.
On tasting, there's a quick crisp and refreshing lager hit that develops into a light-bodied vanilla and caramel biscuit malt character (the malt is sourced locally, and the gluten protein then extracted to less than 0.5 mg/100 ml).
The texture is lively and rich with a refreshing amount of carbonation.
The malt backbone fades abruptly, but not before delivering a wee wave of lemony sweetness then settling down into a surprisingly long finish that also contains some sourness. Though light-bodied, there is enough of a malt character to balance out the local Saaz hops.
And as the photo shows, they do a dark version too.
Available in some good beer shops and from Premium Czech Beers.