Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Backyard Beerfest for the gluten-free

The first time I ordered a decaffeinated soy latte, the barista dubbed it a "why bother". I was 16, visiting Vancouver and it was the first time I had ever seen soymilk on a restaurant menu. I was a little bit embarrassed, as teenagers often are when singled out, but in the intervening years, have seen many a decaffeinated soy latte order, regardless of actual need.

I don't care about what's 'good' for me...one could get whiplash from trying to figure out which side of the fence wine or butter or chocolate, eggs etc are currently situated. I care about how things taste and how things make me feel. Gluten and dairy make me feel bad. Really bad; for days bad. Excruciating pain, vomiting, diarrhea, migraines, eczema and so on and so forth. I then have to go on a bland diet to reset my body. All in all, the whole process from reaction to recovery takes 2-3 weeks.  If I were a caribou, the wolves would have taken me decades ago.

Thankfully, I am not.  And beyond being a relatively productive member of the herd, I have a knack for preparing lichen in a way that all the other caribou crave.  Okay, that analogy is going nowhere.  Bluntly, I am a good cook.  I’ve been forced by necessity to become a good cook, and I also love to cook.  Cooking is another of my favourite creative endeavours.  Have you seen Ratatouille?  There’s that scene where Remy is having a psychedelic taste bud trip:

Yeah, I get that. Food and drink are two of the most powerful experiences that engage all of the senses.  And free of caffeine or dairy or gluten does not mean free of taste or decadence or psychedelic taste bud trips.

On Friday, Jeff and I hosted a little gathering to celebrate the temporary return of one of our migrant friends back to the herd (I apparently have ungulates on the brain today). In honour of the visit, we decided to arrange a less crowded, more cost effective beer festival then the one run on the same day, downtown.  Now, a beer festival may not seem like the most brilliant of themes for a gluten-free individual, but it is one of the few environments where this type of event was safe for me.

Jeff is pretty serious about the whole beer thing.  He’s growing hops in the backyard and he brews his own.  We call it Long Dog Brewing, after Mr. Finnegan. He’s had some hits and he’s had some misses.  By far, the biggest miss was not really his fault – it was a kit.  And it was meant to be a nice gesture.  The beer was called Silly Yak, which was rice based.  The problem with most gluten free beers is that they are outrageously sweet.  This one took it to another level.  Completely undrinkable.  Bless his heart, once he got comfortable with creating his own recipes and preparing his own malt, Jeff decided to try his hand at gluten free once again.  This time, he sprouted and roasted quinoa and used sorghum syrup.  The result is Long Dog Brewing’s Quinoaaaa?, and it’s pretty darn tasty.  It’s also pretty awesome that I have my own home tap!

Jeff’s next endeavor will be to try to make a homemade cider.  Nova Scotia grows some delicious apples, and from them, some phenomenal ciders have been created.  I grew up in BC, and my experience with ciders centered on 2litre pop bottles filled with crazy-sweet, fruit flavoured sparkling sugar water from the Okanagan.  My teeth and brain hurt just thinking about them.  But much like a good sparkling wine, a proper cider is restrained in its sweetness.  Hopefully this fall, Long Dog Brewing will move into the cider game.  Until that time, I have the list of the tasty ciders I experienced during our Backyard Beerfest. 

Dry Cider
Nova Scotia
Berry Blush Cider
Nova Scotia
Traditional Cider
Ship Builders
Nova Scotia
Weston’s Old Rosie
Cloudy Cider
Weston’s WlydWood
Organic Pear Cider

Happy Backyard Tasting!




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