Chicago's Goose Island Clybourn brewpub has jumped on the gluten-free bandwagon, adding a new beer called Queen-OA to the lineup at the Wrigleyville and Clybourn brewpubs.
The beer is made using red and white quinoa rather than the malted barley traditionally used in brewing.
"It's been something I've been working on for the last year," said Jared Rouben, the pub's brewmaster. "There's a really big gluten-free community here in Chicago and with such a big beer revolution that's going on here right now, there's no reason that people that are gluten-free can't be a part of it and enjoy it."
Many gluten-free brews are made with rice, honey, buckwheat or millet, but when Rouben made a research trip to Binny's and sampled the gluten-free beers they had on hand, he wasn't impressed.
"What I saw with quinoa is it was a grain I love to consume, it's full of protein and with the mixed colors, it came out a very nice rose," said Rouben. "It's very effervescent, spritzy ... it's almost champagne-esque."
Rouben ended up making a beer brewed with cranberries, orange peel and grapefruit along with the quinoa.
The result is a brew that hits the glass a shade similar to pink lemonade with a strong citrus smell. The bite from the grapefruit is immediate and people who aren't fans of the fruit may be turned off by the sour, bitter bite at the finish. The Queen-OA is incredibly light and fizzy--like a one-step shandy.
"The gluten-free community has been really supportive," says Rouben, who learned that he'd have to use separate draft lines and tubes to fill growlers to keep the gluten-free beer free of contamination.
Queen-OA sells for $6 a glass or $20 a growler. Rouben plans to keep it on tap at the brewpub all summer, and it's also available at Goose Island's Wrigleyville brewpub. While the Queen-OA is made gluten-free, the brewery is still in the process of gaining gluten-free certification for the beer.
Emily Van Zandt is the RedEye nightlife and events reporter. firstname.lastname@example.org