Local beer innovators Triple Crossing are using a new product to remove the gluten from Element 79. The result is a delicious beer that may be safe for gluten-intolerant drinkers.
Photo by: Brad Higham
There’s some controversy about what you’re about to read. If you’re celiac, we recommend you also read this and do your research before attempting the beer. Some people truly believe that gluten-removed does not equal gluten-free and is not safe for celiac sufferers. We urge you to stay educated and make smart choices.
People who follow gluten-free or low-gluten diets have long had to miss out on a wide variety of beer due to the inherent grain component in most brews. Ciders have been a relatively easy go-to option for gluten-free seekers, but man cannot live on cider alone.
HISTORICAL ASIDE: Okay, to be fair, man did (sort of)! Hard cider used to be the go-to drink for people like our Founding Fathers. “Even children often drank hard cider with breakfast and dinner because it was safer than the water” according to this piece of historical ear-candy by With Good Reason. David Williams posited in his paper Hard Cider’s Mysterious Demise that “among the causes that contributed to the demise of cider in the United States, without question the Temperance Movement belongs near the top of the list. From the 1820s onward, Temperance spread steadily and had significant impact on American drinking habits.” Thank goodness that bleak period is behind us.
Luckily those gluten-free Richmonders who might not be cider aficionados can rest easy now. For all those summertime beer/porch rendezvous, Richmond’s own Triple Crossing Brewing is brewing up something just for them–Element 79.
I chatted with Adam Worcester of Triple Crossing to get the scoop on their latest elemental innovation. On why Triple Crossing decided to pursue a gluten-removed beer, Worcester explained that it’s not just all about the gluten-free marketing — there’s a personal reason: “My dad was diagnosed with celiac. He spent all that time helping us but couldn’t enjoy the beer.” Now, one of their closest supporters can enjoy the fruits (or brews) of their labor. The best part is that, according to Worcester, “it tastes exactly the same” as the traditional non-gluten-free version of that beer.
Killing two birds with one stone probably never tasted so sweet to brewers.
The thing that sets Element 79 apart from specially-brewed gluten-free beers is that instead of being brewed differently, the beer is created in exactly the same way, and then is treated with a special, fairly new product called Clarity Ferm produced by White Labs. Not only does it prevent chill haze (for you non-brewers like me out there, according to BeerAdvocate, chill haze is “cloudiness caused by precipitation of protein-tannin compound at low temperatures”), Clarity Ferm “significantly reduces the gluten content in beers made with barley and wheat,” according to their product information.1 Killing two birds with one stone probably never tasted so sweet to brewers.
Once the Clarity Ferm is added to the regularly-brewed Element 79, it turns the beer into what Triple Crossing (and many other brewers) sell as a “gluten-removed” beverage. It may be a little while still before you see gluten levels listed on beer labels, as the FDA is still completing its validation of the process, but Triple Crossing reports that “the majority of beers tested fall below the current international standard of 20ppm gluten.”
When describing the taste of Element 79, Worcester pinned it as a light and crisp white beer — a little fruity and smooth, perfect for a hot summer day. Considering this is Richmond we’re talking about, I think it’s safe to say that means perfect for every day ever, for now until WHO KNOWS–summer may never end.
“So what do you want to try next?” I asked Worcester, wondering what was brewing next for them on the horizon.
“We might add the product to other beers. We’re always trying new things,” he explained, then added, “The breweries that don’t succeed are the ones that are stagnant.” I think we can all agree that stagnant is the last thing we want when it comes to beer, so cheers to new innovations being served up in town.
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Go by Triple Crossing (113 S. Foushee Street) to sample Element 79 and their other beers. AND take into account that these guys also offer Black Hand Coffee and Ninja Kombucha, which are other–albeit non-alcoholic–gluten-free options.
- See note above. The test used to prove this is currently under some debate. ↩