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a bottle of brew I can imbibe

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16 October 2006

a bottle of brew I can imbibe

gluten-free beer II, originally uploaded by shaunaforce.

Early morning, St. Patrick's Day, 1999. Sharon and I are driving on the west coast of Ireland, in a green rental car. Winding along a narrow, one-lane (at best) road along the ocean, we are in awe of the vastness. We roll down the windows and listen to the sound of no humanity at all. Green fields, short rock walls, sky -- that is all that greets us. Something in the silence feels holy.

Suddenly, coming over a rise, I have to stop the car abruptly. Sharon lets out a little terrified squeal. In front of us, blocking the road, a white horse. He is placid, chewing on some grasses, and staring right at us. Tentatively, we open the doors and walk toward him. He does not move. He is the chief of this land. We approach him with hands wide open, and offer him some of the carrots we had left in the car. Sharon pets his neck. I take pictures.

We gently coax him out of the road, so that we can continue on our way to Clifden. When we clamber back into the car, Sharon says, "My god, that was so amazing. It was like something out of mythology." I look at her, and she looks at me. And then we laugh, at the absurdity of the remark, and at the joy of our day together.


Early October, 2006.

I feel a similar sense of awe and disbelief when I walk by this white horse at Whole Foods. Gluten-free beer. Gluten-free beer? Gluten-free beer!

Back in February, I had my first gluten-free beer, at Risotteria. It was a honey ale, and it tasted like sunshine going down my throat. No matter that it was a little too sweet for my taste -- I always was a dark, Guinness-y kind of girl. It was beer, and I was drinking it. But that brewery, Ramapo, lives in upstate New York. I have never seen their beers over here on the left coast. So, I relegated myself to drinking beer when I visited New York.

There I was, in the Whole Foods in Seattle, walking by their gluten-free baked goods table, and I spotted this white horse. Toleration Ale -- what a name. Of course, I had to buy it. Even though it did cost a whopping $8.50 for 16 ounces.

It was fairly sweet, which is to be expected, since it is brewed from sugars. Underneath the sweetness was the taste of hops -- summertime, grainy, familiar. A little citrusy burst at the end, as well. It went down easy. The Chef and I put our feet up on the coffee table, ate our fabulous dinner, and drank a beer as we watched a baseball game.

Watch out for white horses. They always seem to signal something extraordinary.


At 3:05 AM, Blogger ilva said...

I have tagged you but only if you feel like it!
I'm so happy you have started posting regularly again!

At 3:33 AM, Anonymous Gluten Free MappyB said...

I'll have to try Toleration if they sell it around here. I just tried New Grist for the first time on Sunday - not too bad! It's SO nice to have a beer that doesn't make my stomach bloat up! :)

At 7:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Shauna,

I'm so glad that you're posting regularly again. I really love the enthusiastic way you write about food and your life. I'm not gluten-free, but several of my friends and relatives are. Your blog really shows the joy in all the food that is available and delicious, and that people are adaptable.


At 9:20 AM, Anonymous gaile said...

Awesome! I can't find New Grist out here, so now i have another option to look for. Thanks for the tip!!

At 10:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh wow, what a terrible name for a beer! But I'm totally checking it out if I can find it at my local Whole Foods. I haven't had beer since going GF.

At 11:05 AM, Anonymous Kathryn H said...

Shauna -

I'm so excited that you are posting regularly again. Your writing and your food are wonderful!

I am going to look at my local Whole Foods for this beer. Thanks for the tip.


At 11:07 AM, Blogger Us said...

I have to say that I've never tasted beer because I was diagnosed at the age of 18...but now that I'm 27 maybe I'll try some next time I'm in Seattle.

At 11:37 AM, Blogger Jamie said...

They also sell gf beer in Canada called La Messagere - brewed in Quebec. It's mighty pricey though - $24/6 pack - OUCH! I never was a huge beer drinker - didn't care much for it, but once I was diagnosed, I craved having an ol' brew once in awhile. We do splurge every once in awhile and buy a pack - it lasts me for awhile.

I also wanted to share a tidbit of info with you as well. A company in Quebec is also producing oats that have been grown and manufactured in a completely gluten free environment. You know the ongoing issue about celiacs and oats (we can't eat them because of cross contamination issues) well - these guys have taken care of it. I'd love to try the stuff - it's a bit pricey though (but again, what gf stuff isn't????). Here's the link:

At 11:50 AM, Blogger Soul Kitten said...

Hi Shauna

I too am happy about GF beer and posted about it on my blog.

Check it out if you have the time. I don't always write about gluten free stuff, but it is a food related blog.


At 11:51 AM, Blogger Soul Kitten said...

PS In case you don't have time to read my blog, you should know Ramapo is now being sold in BevMo! on the West Coast.


At 8:48 AM, Anonymous said...

very nice blog!!!

At 11:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

La Messagere -
also with a horse on the label...


At 3:47 PM, Anonymous wheatlessbay said...

Gluten-free Ramapo Passover Honey Beer is indeed available in Southern California at the big-box retailer Beverages and More, as soul kitten has written. We find it thoroughly underwhelming, probably because it is a mead (fermented honey) rather than a lager, no matter what they call it. We still buy it occasionally out of sheer desperation. By contrast, Milwaukee's New Grist can stand up to many a microbrew, and before the airlines changed their carry-on rules we used to beg it from friends visiting from Wisconsin. So much for that.

But these people make us want to move to Chesterfield...


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