I have to give props to Coors for their entry into the gluten free marketplace with their new Coors Peak Copper Lager (a six-pack of which they sent me recently)—they are using brown rice malt as the base for their beer rather than sorghum, as is very common among GF beers, and I can’t imagine that malting rice is an easy task by any means. And truth be told, sorghum is the main problem I have with gluten free beers—heavy-handed use lends a medicinal, band-aid flavor to the beer that has (for me) become a defining characteristic of the style.
Not so Coors Peak. With this beer, in addition to the brown rice malt they are using brown rice and pea protein (yes, derived from peas as in “pea soup”) and then add color with caramelized sugar. It works; it drinks just like a regular light American lager, a touch darker and sweeter than most, but if you had handed me a glass without telling me what it was I probably wouldn’t have guessed it was gluten free.
Here are my notes:
Appearance: Super clear golden brown, fizzy head, bright. Steady stream of bubbles throughout.
Smell: Smells like Coors/other light American lagers—sweetish malt, but not really much else (very clean, neutral).
Taste: None of the usual gluten free markers I’m used to (band-aid, plastic, medicinal) that come from sorghum, tastes very much like regular beer, tending towards a sweet potato flavor of sweetness. Little bit of a tang does give it away as not-quite-regular, a lack of barley malt proteins on the tongue. Actually not bad, though on the bland side (as expected).
Mouthfeel: Light and thin, crisp, slight tangy aftertaste.
Overall it’s surprisingly successful as a gluten-alternative beer, and I’m impressed with what they’ve achieved in brewing it. Now, admittedly I’m not the target market for this—I rarely drink gluten free beers, and rarely do I buy the mass market lagers. But I can’t deny that they’ve brought considerable skill to this beer.
As a conclusion—for Celiacs and others avoiding gluten, but still want a “regular” beer, then pick up some Coors Peak and try it out.