Photo by Robey Martin
Left: Lincoln Smith's new Imperial Stout with baked Italian figs; right: his Belgian White Ale with coriander, chamomile and orange peel
For Lincoln Smith and his family, gluten-free isn’t the new black. It isn’t ever to be a fad; it’s a lifestyle and, now, it's a labor of love. When his son, Milo, turned 2, Lincoln and his wife noticed a change in Milo's energy and digestion; after doctor’s visits, Milo was diagnosed with Celiac disease, a condition that affects roughly one in 100 people globally and makes gluten ingestion problematic and painful, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation. Though Milo can't yet drink beer, the awareness of his son's gluten intolerance spurred Lincoln's latest passion: two new gluten-free beers you can taste this Friday, April 24, at Ardent Craft Ales.
You might recognize Lincoln as the knowledgeable bartender formerly of Secco and Postbellum, though he now manages the brewery at Ardent and created the recipes for pilot batches of gluten-free beer: an Imperial Stout with baked Italian figs, and a Belgian White Ale with coriander, chamomile and orange peel. He hopes these two might grow into a future endeavor that he and his wife, Olivia, have been discussing: a gluten-free brewery of their own.
Beer, at its most basic, is a sum of four parts: water, barley, hops and yeast. Barley (there’s that irksome gluten) forms the base for most beer. Lincoln flipped the script and malted quinoa instead. Quinoa looks, and is textured, similarly to grain, but it's a naturally gluten-free crop. What we eat is officially a seed that is related to beets, chard and tumbleweeds; the “not all seeds are grains but all grains are seeds” adage applies here.
The delicate process of brewing with quinoa has to be monitored closely. Quinoa, with natural bitter components, makes brewing challenging. Where malting a grain assists in germination and then halts the process by drying the grain, very similarly here it sprouts the quinoa seed. If the temperature climbs too high during the malting process, one risks killing the quinoa and wasting a whole ton of time — 36 hours of Lincoln’s time, to be exact. An entirely quinoa beer is daunting and challenging, so brewers often add other seeds or grains. In Lincoln’s recipes, he uses millet, amaranth — which isn’t malted, but it does add some nutty and grassy flavors — and gluten-free oats and buckwheat from Bob’s Red Mill.
On Friday at 4 p.m., Ardent will be pouring from its two pilot batches, and if successful, the brewery will experiment with more gluten-free pilots. Can you stomach gluten? If you can, not to worry; there are three other pilot offerings on tap as well: a French Bier de Garde (a strong pale ale), a white IPA and an Extra Special Bitter.
Ardent Craft Ales is located at 3200 W. Leigh St.