The Rise of Sorghum Beers & Alcohols in the U.S.
Gluten-free sorghum options have been a big hit in the states
While sorghum-based beer and alcohol have long been staples in Africa and Asia, beverages that use this grassy plant as a base have only just started to develop a real following in the U.S., thanks to the increased demand for gluten-free products over the past decade. The fact that these drinks also often have a more mellow flavor than many of their barley-based counterparts has certainly contributed to their growing popularity across America as well.
Because sorghum can be brewed to create a drink that is completely free of gluten, beer and alcohol drinks that are sorghum-based can be readily enjoyed by those who suffer from celiac disease or who have sensitivities to glycoproteins. It can be brewed into beer or into a distilled spirit that is similar to traditional whiskey, but either way, it offers a nice alcohol option for anyone trying to avoid gluten.
Ever since Anheuser-Busch introduced their Redbridge sorghum-based beer on a national scale in 2006, sales of this type of brew have grown steadily and there are now a number of small brewhouses across the U.S. and elsewhere who are now producing their own varieties. Dogfish Head Tweason Ale out of Delaware leads the way with a beer that is fruity and mildly sweet, while Bard’s Original Sorghum Malt Beer, produced in Minnesota, offers the scent and flavor of malt and sour apples.
In Oregon, Ground Breaker Brewing, formerly known as Harvester, uses a special white sorghum syrup produced locally to create their Pale Ale, which also features chestnuts and plenty of hops for flavor. Colorado’s New Planet Brewery makes all sorghum-based beers, from a citrusy Pale Ale to their spicier Belgian, while Lakefront Brewery in Wisconsin has introduced New Grist, a smooth and crisp sorghum-based alternative. Meanwhile, Shakparo is a “Fire-Brewed African Style Ale” from Sprecher Brewing that lives up to its name with a crisp and slighty sour taste that is sure to keep your attention.
American breweries aren’t the only ones getting in on the sorghum-based trend, however. Sorgham Beer, produced by St. Peter’s Brewery in Suffolk, England is reminiscent of a German Pilsner and it’s quietly become one of the most popular gluten-free import beers available in the U.S.
There are other gluten-free alcoholic drinks that you can make from sorghum grass and two distilleries in Wisconsin have proven to be winners in the market. Queen Jennie is a silky sweet sorghum whiskey with a nutty aroma and flavor, while Brown Dog offers up a delectable apple and oak combination. Both are sure to delight anyone who thought they could never have whiskey again because of its gluten content.
Although sorghum-based beer and spirits may only be catching on in America recently, there can be little doubt that these gluten-free options will continue to gain in popularity over the next several years.