1999 Citracado Parkway, Escondido
Prior to my Lupus diagnosis, doctors attempted to determine the cause of my symptoms, which included severe stomach pains and other gastrointestinal distress. At one point, they speculated that I might be gluten-intolerant. My heart sank at this possibility. Yes, I love to eat, and I love to eat many gluten-rich foods, but the one thing I was most concerned about having ripped from my diet was beer. Not just because I love it, but because it’s my bread and butter (pun intended).
Imagine a world with no beer. It’s startling easy if you try. And a reality for a significant segment of the world’s population. Yes, I realize there are some who abstain from gluten as adherence to fads and vanity. But for those who have legitimate medical cause for managing gluten intake to minimal levels or abstaining altogether, it’s quite impactful. The thought of not being able to drink or write about beer devastated my psyche. Fortunately, that hypothesis proved false, but it made me sympathetic to those who, due to gluten sensitivity, are unable to taste and enjoy the craft beer that means so much to me.
The only solace I could take was a product from local yeast producer White Labs called Clarity Ferm. When introduced to beer during the fermentation process, Clarity Ferm breaks down the gluten protein chains, eliminating the peptide sequences and reactive sites in gluten molecules that trigger negative reactions for gluten-sensitive drinkers. Over the past year-and-a-half, numerous breweries (Alpine Beer Co., Amplified Ale Works, Culture Brewing Company) have produced beers using Clarity-Ferm. Thought I wasn’t at liberty to share it when reporting on this phenomenon, Stone Brewing Co. spent an entire year experimenting with Clarity-Ferm to develop an India pale ale that tastes just as abundantly hoppy as its other offerings, but meets the FDA’s Codec standard of less than 20 parts per million to officially qualify as “gluten-reduced.” The final version of that beer is now available nationally in six-packs under the name Stone Delicious IPA.
I could get geekier about the scientific attributes of this beer (working for Stone, I have dived so deep into this niche subject matter that I’m still rinsing Clarity-Ferm out of my hair), but instead I’ll focus on what matters most — taste. The impetus for this beer’s flavor profile was a beer called Lost City of Liquid Gold. A single IPA developed at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station, it exhibited a vibrant, lemony flavor that the brewing team fell in love with, enough so that, when developing the recipe for Stone Delicious IPA, they made El Dorado the focal point on the hop front, adding an experimental variety known as Lemondrop to the mix. The result is something that tastes like lemon Starburst candy and is rendered dry rather than cloying by substantial, but not overdone, hop bitterness.
Whether or not one is gluten-intolerant, it’s a good beer. But for those whose sensitivity to gluten has thus far made it impossible to taste craft beer, this IPA will provide an epitomic example of West Coast brewing style, particularly Stone’s.
DISCLAIMER: In addition to his work as a freelance journalist, Brandon Hernández is an employee of Stone Brewing Co.