Words & Photos - Matthew Curtis
Back in the summer I took a load of Camden Hells Lager and Brewdog Punk IPA to a barbecue to share amongst friends. Sadly, some of my friends couldn't enjoy any of this tasty beer because they're gluten intolerant. I was careful to make sure that not a drop of the beer I brought with me was was wasted but this got me thinking about the limited options for coeliacs that still enjoy a beer. There is a small range of gluten free beers doing the rounds in the UK from the likes of St. Peters, Poppyland and even Mikkeller but when I spoke to the same friends about these options the complaint was almost unanimous, most gluten free beers they'd tried were too bitter for their tastes.
Then I stumbled across Celia Organic Gluten Free Lager. Brewed by Žatecky Pivovar within the walls of Žatec in the Czech Republic, Celia is the real deal, a Czech lager brewed just like any other with local water, barley and Saaz hops. The trick to making this beer suitable for the gluten intolerant is a patented silicone filtration system that claims to almost completely remove all but a trace of gluten while still preserving the great taste of a quality Czech lager. The blurb had me convinced, so when I next headed over to see my friends I picked up an armful on my way there.
The proof, of course, is in the tasting and as someone who has really acquired the taste for great lager over the past few months I was really looking forward to putting it to the test. It pours a pale shade of gold with a pleasing, tight white head and has a gentle aroma of honey and crushed barley with a little freshly cut grass thrown in there for good measure. On the palate there's a nice bit of honey sweetness up front but this is soon met by a snappy, herbal bite and finishes quickly with a drying bitterness. I found myself wanting it to taste thin, wanting it be a little bit different in some way or other but no, this is a robust, clean and tasty Czech beer that sits up there with some of the best I've had. In fact I'd wager that you'd struggle to tell this apart from a lager that isn't gluten free.
The best thing, of course, was that my gluten intolerant friends liked it too. This is a top drawer everyday lager for everyone, and as it's vegan too I really mean everyone.
I picked these bottles up from my local Oddbins for £2.65 each. If you like the sound of this then you'll also be pleased to know that the founders of Celia also run a gluten free restaurant called Vozars which can be found in Brixton Village.