As we've learned, the gluten-free beer market is quite unlike its mainstream counterpart. Many brews are only available regionally, in limited or seasonal runs, or on-tap only. Stocking your fridge them will probably require an online bulk purchase (though you can get lucky at Whole Foods) and they're rarely available at your local saloon. As well, no two breweries have quite the same method for achieving a gluten-free product, so overall quality varies greatly. Ultimately, none of them offers a full "beer" experience (many are downright awful). Right now, gluten-free beer just can't approach the taste and feel of the real thing — but some of our picks get damn close.
To test the drinkability of these eight, nationally available, non-seasonal beers, gluten-free beers, we brought them to the ultimate alcoholic proving grounds — a private, slightly sloppy birthday party at the Gowanus Ballroom. After mixing them into coolers filled with the real stuff, we asked the rather tipsy attendees to rate each product. What could possibly go wrong, right?