Nova Scotia

Noble Grape carries product that nearly wipes out homemade beer's gluten

For beer lovers who prefer their suds gluten free, traditionally they’ve had few options when trying to get a cold one.

'It has no impact on the flavour of the finished beer, the look, the head retention,' says store co-owner

Site C dam's 1,600 camp workers might be getting their own bar. (Shutterstock)

For beer lovers who prefer their suds gluten free, traditionally they've had few options when trying to get a cold one.

While it is possible to purchase some gluten-free beer from a retailer, the variety is limited. And for people looking to make their own beer, it has always been possible to use non-traditional beer ingredients like sorghum (a type of grain) in place of wheat or barley to create a gluten-free beer.

"You can make some surprisingly good beer that way, but in a sense, you're always making imitation beer," said Mark Haynes, the co-owner of Noble Grape, a homemade wine and beer supply store in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Thanks to science, it's now possible to make any beer style practically gluten free.

A U.S. company called White Labs, which sells yeast and fermentation products, has developed a product called Clarity Ferm that breaks down the gluten found in beer and reduces it to a miniscule level.

White Labs bills its product as being "gluten reduced" and is careful not to call it gluten free.

"Twenty parts per million (PPM) is the international standard for what you can consider gluten free, but you can't use the terms gluten free if it once had gluten," said Haynes.

White Labs says laboratory research has found beers made using Clarity Ferm with barley or wheat fall under the 20 PPM threshold.

Clarity Ferm retails at Noble Grape for $6.99 a vial.

'No impact on the flavour of the finished beer'

When making beer, Clarity Ferm is added at the same time people add yeast to their unfermented beer.

To beer geeks, this stage is known as primary fermentation, which is when the yeast converts the sugar in the unfermented beer into alcohol.

Haynes says he was skeptical when he first heard of the product, but did research on it and found people were very pleased with it.

Now that he's tried it firsthand, he's even more impressed.

"It has no impact on the flavour of the finished beer, the look, the head retention," said Haynes.

He says customers who can't consume gluten have told him they have started making beer again because of the product and are loving it.

Clarity Ferm is good for making a batch of beer up to 26 litres in size. The typical home brew batch of beer measures 23 litres.

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